Match Report
Warwick School 4th XV vs  Harrow School
On: Saturday, 07 Oct 2023
Venue: Away

Having been asked to stand in for Mr Leaf, who was absent on England duty (well someone has to watch them), I travelled to Harrow with a sense of trepidation knowing that the four previous meetings between the sides had resulted in four comprehensive defeats for Warwick with a combined score of 223-29. However, in beautiful October sunshine, this was to be a very different occasion.

After a lack lustre warm-up that largely involved a forlorn search for water bottles, the game started off evenly with both sides making handling errors. Harrow had kindly given us one of their subs to make the game 15 a side but had cleverly off loaded the player least able to catch a rugby ball and then insisted that we kept him for the whole match. However, strong carries by forwards Ben Rankin, Captain Alex Scaramanga, and Ethan Trend forced Harrow back to their line and Roan Court was able to crash over for a converted try. For the next 20 minutes play ebbed and flowed with Warwick largely on the attack but being forced back by the siege gun boot of the Harrow fly half who tended to target his Harrovian team mate on the Warwick wing. The Warwick forwards were starting to tire in the heat and this enabled Harrow to get on to the front foot and score a converted try to equalise the score. This seemed to sting the team into action and after Tanjim Islam brilliantly reclaimed the kick-off, slick handling in the midfield put Marcus Malpass over for a try in the corner. Half time score: 12-7 to Warwick. Could Warwick keep this up or would they wilt in the second half? The watching OW Seb Cockburn-Miller was quickly dispatched to find more water.

I needn’t have worried. The talk at half-time was of “emptying the tank” and with the team starting to gel, Warwick ended up dominating the second half. The Warwick forwards controlled possession allowing the backs to show off their superior ball skills and athleticism. The ball fizzed from scrum half Ant Hargett to fly half Ned Wilson who frequently beat the first defender and then put his centres into space. The result was further tries, some of them spectacular, for Osian Mulligan, Marcus Malpass, the sniping Ant Hargett and the majestic Ned Wilson who beat half the Harrow team on his way to the line. Determined defence, with Seb Perez and Aiden Tibbets to the fore, kept Harrow out until the very final minute of the match when Warwick were down to 13 players. Final score: 38-14 to Warwick.

To paraphrase the famous Norwegian football commentary of Bjorge Lillelien: “Winston Churchill, Stanley Baldwin, Robert Peel, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jawaharlal Nehru, James Blunt, Richard Curtis, Edward Fox, John McCririck, Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje, your boys took a hell of a beating!”