World Cup runner-up Perry plays key role in double delight for Old Swinford Hospital
By Tom Masters, Sportsbeat
The experience of World Cup runner-up Shaun Perry was a contributing factor to double success for Old Swinford Hospital School at the Continental Tyres Schools Cup and Vase Finals at Twickenham, according to skipper Tom Miller.
Claiming the U15 Vase final with a 40-21 win over Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School in the morning, they added the U18 Vase after fighting back to draw 33-33 with Samuel Whitbread Academy but won the game on count back having scored the first try.
Perry, who earned 14 England caps, including two during the 2007 Rugby World Cup, was involved with both sides as the Head of Rugby Coaching.
And having run out at Twickenham seven times in an England shirt, he proved to be just the right person to provide a calming influence in the dressing room.
U18s captain Miller said: “There was not a coach more suited for it really than one knows exactly what it is like to come out at Twickenham.
“He kept us calm before the game and I cannot thank Mr (Andrew) Coalter and Mr Perry enough for the season we have had, we could not have done it without them.”
“To come away from Twickenham with a win, especially a win like that, I am super proud of the boys.”
Perry echoed the thoughts of his captain with rugby in a very healthy state at the Stourbridge based school.
“We are super proud, what a message it is for state boarding, rugby at the school is doing really well,” he added.
“What a way for the boys to finish their rugby season with two wins at Twickenham - it is just really good.”
Director of Sport Andrew Coulter was delighted the whole school were able to enjoy such an occasion, with swathes of supporters from around the West Midlands coming down to create an incredible atmosphere at HQ.
He said: “It is massive, I think the friends, family, supporters, people from the local rugby clubs, they have all travelled down today and it has been a huge day for the school.”
In between the U15 and U18s finals, girls from Campion School, Northamptonshire, Caroline Chisholm School, Biddenham International School and Sports College and Bedfordshire and Collingwood College, Surrey played their part in XRugby Games on the pitch as part of the Rugby World Cup 2025 Impact Programme, showcasing the progress of girls’ school rugby.
Old Swinford Hospital School are blessed in that they have another ex-rugby star in their ranks in former Saracen Laura Westlake, who oversees the victorious U15s side.
On a day in which two sides from the school came out winners, it is clear to her that school rugby is very healthy in the Midlands.
“You can see how healthy it is, and it is something we need to keep bringing through,” said Westlake.
“We have grassroots rugby in from year seven and we have got year sevens here today that have made posters and want signatures now from all of these players, so it means so much from the youngest players in our school, all the way up to the senior players.”
Pete Robb, Marketing Director for Continental Tyres said: “We are proud to be supporting the growth of grassroots rugby with our title sponsorship of the Continental Tyres Schools Cup.
“For school teams to come together at the iconic Twickenham Stadium to play for the coveted Continental Tyres Schools Cup trophy will no doubt whet the appetite of those competing, increase their ambitions for a career in rugby and help to develop the next generation of rugby players.”
The Continental Tyres Schools Cup is an important part of the age-grade rugby landscape in England, with schools’ rugby often where players fall in love with the game for the first time. For more information on how to get involved with Age-Grade rugby visit www.englandrugby.com/agegraderugby Your local rugby club would also love to see you! Findrugby.com