Just before the end of the Christmas term pupils from St John’s Academy gathered to celebrate rugby success. The Year 9 boys’ team, who were the first to benefit from Marlborough RFC coaching defeated Commonweal School in a floodlit fixture at Royal Wootton Bassett to win the Swindon Schools’ Rugby Cup final.
This was a double celebration as they had already won the Swindon Schools’ League at the end of November.
Following several years’ informal support St John’s and Marlborough RFC entered into a formal partnership during the summer of last year. The arrangement involved provision of qualified coaches for each training session and the establishment of a junior coach training and mentoring programme and liaison with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to enable staff training.
The partnership has already proved to be tremendously popular with up to 80 students now playing rugby every week. Enthusiasm in training has translated to success on the pitch with fantastic results across all the age groups involved with the success of the Year 9 boys’ team leading the way.
At an assembly in their honour, the Principal of St John’s Academy Ian Tucker praised the team’s performance and presented them with the Cup which was proudly raised by the team skipper Stanley Child and sports’ captain James Hamilton. Mr Tucker took the time to highlight the performance of Ed Mills who won Man of the Match in the final with a barnstorming display before breaking his ankle in a typically rumbustious run. It was most fitting that his father Stuart, one of the Marlborough RFC coaches involved in the partnership, was there to look proudly on.
With the Cup successfully delivered, there was one further award to be presented. The 1871 Club which is the social arm of Marlborough RFC and all the proceeds from its membership and other fund-raising activities go directly to support the promotion of rugby for the whole family in the Marlborough area. The Club’s name derives from Marlborough RFC’s involvement in the formation of the RFU in 1871.
Keen to cement the St John’s and Marlborough RFC partnership, the 1871 Club generously funded and donated a new annual award called the 1871 Shield which will be presented to the pupil who has made the most outstanding contribution to rugby at the school. The inaugural award went to Max Stevens, a Marlborough RFC Colt and St John’s Sixth Former.
Max has been part of the junior coaching initiative for almost three years since volunteering as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award. He has proved to be an excellent member of the coaching setup, being a superb role model for the younger players. He is a most deserving recipient and has set the bar high for future years.