Ipswich college bounce into the history books

OF ALL the nicknames befitting a burly rugby player, ‘Tigger’ is perhaps not one of the most apt.

But 17-year-old George Murray won’t care one jot what he is affectionately known as to team mates, coaches and even some parents on the sidelines.

Murray was the unlikely hero as St Joseph’s College booked their place in the last 16 of the prestigious Daily Mail RBS Cup with a 13-6 win over Winchester’s Peter Symonds College.

Unlikely because the exciting Under-18s side had previously swept all before them in the regional rounds of the competition with fast attacking rugby. That is until Wednesday afternoon’s hard-fought win over powerful opponents.

Step forward Murray who kicked two penalties and converted Gabriel Carroll’s solitary try to give the red and whites a deserved and determined win.

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And it got even better for the teenager who was then told that his performances had attracted the interest of the Scottish Exiles Under-18s – a pathway to international recognition.

Relishing the far-more competitive encounter, the one-time Sudbury player said: “It was very physical and I think Peter Symonds came here firing with victory in sight. But we like to rise to the challenge and this was a good test for us.”

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A real “challenge” it was as the home side had to quickly get out of the cruise control that has seen them sweep all before them – and score more than 50 points in every game – on the road to the sixth round.

That said, they almost scored a try within 30 seconds of the start but Troy Streicher was denied by some resilient defending near the line. This was to be a pattern for the match with the hosts creating good scoring opportunities but only registering once.

But it was from vintage St Joseph’s. Their easy-on-the-eye, attack-minded passing game was rarely seen in the first half which was a credit to the powerful youngsters from Hampshire.

There was also a degree of rustiness in the home players’ handling, largely caused by the fact that the snow and ice had prevented any rugby in the last couple of weeks.

St Joseph’s went behind to a penalty and it took them until the 26th minute before leading for the first time, Carroll going under the posts and Murray converting. But the advantage was cut to 7-6 before the break.

St Joseph’s improved after the restart but only had Murray’s two penalties to show for all their hard work.

The win capped a fine week for the Ipswich college after its Under-15s side won 38-31 against Trinity School, Croydon. Both age groups are now just one win away from the national quarter finals – the first time St Joseph’s has had two representatives beyond Christmas.

Mark Patterson, director of sport at the college, said: “It is particularly special to be one of only two schools in the whole country to get this far with both age groups. But probably most pleasing of all in terms of where we sit as a whole school with rugby, is that 10 of our starting 1st XV are back next year and nine of our Under-15 squad are currently Under-14.

“Both teams have already asked for and committed to four extra sessions each over the Christmas holidays, so the focus and determination is there from within to get to the quarter finals.”

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