SCHOOLBOY rugby players lived out their sporting dreams after taking part in the biggest rugby sevens competition in the world, with the first team reaching the semi-finals.

Barnard Castle School’s U18s first team just missed out on a spot in the final while the U14s side qualified for the second day of the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools’ Sevens Cup after winning their group. A play-off defeat then saw them put into the draw for the Rosslyn Park Plate competition.

The annual event, which has been run by Rosslyn Park FC, London, since 1939, attracted 10,000 players, from 168 schools, from all over the UK and abroad. It acts as a proving ground for many players who go on to enjoy professional careers at club and international level.

The school’s first team, which also reached the semi-finals of this year’s 15s National Schools’ Cup, impressed the crowds with strong performances in the final group stage, before going down to Millfield in the semi-final, the eventual runners up to winners Wellington.

First team coach Martin Pepper said: “This is an incredible competition to be part of. When you stand and look around at literally thousands of young players giving it their all it’s an experience that will stay with them throughout their lives. All of our boys played incredibly well and we were thrilled they made it as far as they did in what was a fiercely contested competition.”

U14s coach Joe Pickering added: “After missing a lot of rugby because of the pandemic the Year 9 boys found themselves in one of the toughest seasons at both 12-a-side and sevens.

“They exhibited incredible resilience and never stopped trying, leaving their best performances until last. I remember playing in this competition when I was a schoolboy and it is something you never forget. Over the season the boys have bonded as a unit and I am incredibly proud of their efforts.”

U14s captain Jonny Royle (pictured above) said: “We have been dreaming of this moment since we joined the school, for many of us that was the Preparatory School, and it has been even better than we imagined. To be part of a competition of this scale has been amazing and our boys really rose to the challenge.”