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National Schools Cup Semi-final – Barney’s first appearance since 2014

28 Feb 2022

Barnard Castle School’s thriving Rugby programme is seeking a return to Twickenham as the School’s First XV prepare for their first National Schools Cup Semi-final since 2014.

Barney will take on Kirkham Grammar School this Friday, 4 March at Kendal Rugby Club (KO 7pm) with the winner progressing to the final at the ‘Home of England Rugby’.

The School’s First XV reached back-to-back National Schools Cup Finals in 2003 and 2004, followed by a third trip to Twickenham in 2007. It was in 2014 when Barney last appeared at the Semi-final stage of the competition.

Barnard Castle School has enjoyed an excellent season so far, with the team winning nine of its 10 matches, and its Rugby 10s side went unbeaten to win the prestigious ‘Bain 10s’ competition earlier this month.

Kirkham Grammar School has had an equally impressive year having only lost once as well, ensuring Friday evening’s fixture has all the makings for a keenly contested affair.

Barney’s squad comprises a wealth of talent, including six Newcastle Falcons Academy players, all of whom competed in this season’s Premiership Rugby Under 18 Academy League.

Martin Pepper, First Team Head Coach and Second Master at Barnard Castle School, said: “In spite of all the distractions and disruptions brought about by the pandemic, the boys have remained focused and enjoyed an excellent season.

“It was a proud moment for everyone connected with the team and those within our community when we reached the semi-final; the boys have done themselves and the School proud, beating some very good sides to get into this position.

“We are hoping to give another good account of ourselves in what promises to be a tough fixture against equally talented opposition. The opportunity to play under the lights will be a great experience for the boys, especially those players who are preparing to close out their school rugby careers, and hopefully we will be able to make it another memorable occasion.”

Lee Dickson, former England scrum half and Barnard Castle School’s Master in Charge of Rugby, added: “Having represented Barney in the National Schools Cup final, I know first-hand how incredible an opportunity it is for a 17 or 18-year-old. Our boys are fully focused on the semi-final and have been dedicated to the cause throughout the school year, playing a good, attractive brand of rugby.

“We have produced some really talented sides over the last few years and it has been a shame that COVID-19 hampered those seasons, especially last year’s First XV. However, the boys competing now have all been a part of that process, learnt a great deal and stepped up to the mark.

“Reaching Twickenham would be the icing on the cake, in what has been an impressive season.”