Senior Head's Blog: Twickenham

Saturday 23 March 2013 is a date that you might struggle to remember.  It was the day after the Spring Term of 2013 drew to a close, and despite the fact that it was now supposed to be spring, the temperature hovered around zero all day. With a few flakes of snow in the air, and a bitter east wind, it felt significantly colder.  

Eleven years ago, the current Upper Sixth would have been enjoying the first day of their holiday, after a tough term in Year Two, while our Year Eleven would have been exhausted from their second term in Reception.  

However, Saturday 23 March 2013 was a very significant day in the history of Felsted School, as we looked ahead to our 450th Anniversary the following year.  For the first and only time in Felsted's history, we were heading to Twickenham, with the Under 15 team facing Royal Latin School (Buckinghamshire), before the Under 18 team faced Yarm School, from North Yorkshire. 

 

In the first game, our Under 15s, with the giant of Ehren Painter (now playing for Exeter Chiefs) among the line up took an early lead through a Jiffy Lennon penalty.  Jiffy is currently playing in the Championship for Bedford, and his cousin Jack will be part of the Felsted side this time around at Twickenham.  Latin struck back with a well worked try, before Matt Lumb broke free from half way to restore the Felsted lead. Lumb had been a key player in the run to the final and it was fitting that he should get on the scoresheet. By half time, the lead had been stretched to 13-7, with Stefan Warner touching down in the corner.  

The second half of this game was incredibly tense, but Felsted could not add to their tally, and Latin scored one try through their backs (13-12) before a late finish, only confirmed after the referee had consulted with his touch judge, put the side from Buckingham in front. Although Felsted were pressing at the end, it was not to be.

As the wind got stronger and the cold even more bitter, the Under 18 match got underway. Yarm had a star in Zach Kibirige, while Felsted were being led by Charlie Kingham, former England U16 captain, who went on to win international caps for England at Sevens.  Again Felsted started much the better, Kingham finishing in the corner and creating an opening for Josh Hunter-Jordan to finish, going 10 points up in the first quarter of an hour.  

Whether nerves, or pressure (or perhaps just cold), Felsted found themselves under intense pressure, and Kibirige scored a brilliant individual try to bring the score to 10-5 at the break. After the half time pause, it was Yarm who took control, scoring a try to draw level, but as the clock ran down, the game became even more open.

Felsted had two Malins brothers playing in 2013. Max (who is now playing for Bristol and has now got 22 England caps) was at fly half, but it was his older brother Will, playing at full back, who scored a stunning try, breaking through on half way, and chasing his own kick down to put Felsted in front 15-10.  Just as the Felsted crowd was celebrating, a gap opened in defence, and Yarm's fly half, Guthrie (who had an outstanding game) broke through, touching down and then converting his own try.

As the clock ran down, Felsted went searching for a winning score, with Charlie Wood tackled into touch just as he was about to cross the line.  The final whistle went with the score 17-15 in favour of Yarm.  An incredible day, an incredible experience, but sadly no trophies for the teams from Essex.

This year, by the time that you read this, the game may be over. Whatever the result, the team has made us incredibly proud.  Their commitment to one another has been evident throughout and they have battled through a series of incredibly tight finishes.  Whatever the result is, they will have had an experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives, and they will have given all of us memories that will last as well.  

It promises to be a very special occasion for the whole Felsted community and whether you are there in person, watching on line, or just hearing the stories of what happened afterwards, I hope that you will feel a part of the occasion.  And maybe, just maybe, 2024 will deliver Felsted's first ever win at Twickenham.


Garde Ta Foy!


Chris