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A tremendous breeding ground for young rugby players - The Daily Mail Cup
Other sports should follow RFU lead and make a big thing of school sport
Posted Sep 22, 2010 by Jeff Dawson
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Rugby plays host to an annual competition that has seen some of the most promising young players get to play on the biggest stage - and it has developed many international standard players along the way.
The Daily Mail Cup deserves the utmost praise. And it deserves legendary status amongst the sport for what it has achieved at grassroots level.
The competition, which has been in existence since the late 1980s, is an annual competition that has been a major reason for the development of quality players throughout the country. It pits schools from across the nation against each other, with the showpiece final being at the home of English rugby, Twickenham.
Players such as current internationals James Haskell, Danny Cipriani and Tom Croft have both been part of teams who have won the tournament, Haskell at u15 level in 2000 with Wellington College, Cipriani at u15 with Whitgift and Croft, who captained the successful Oakham School first XV that won it in 2003.
The reason the Daily Mail Cup is held in such high esteem is because of success stories such as these. I remember going to Twickenham on both occasions Oakham School won, firstly in 2002 and then again in 2003.
I was amazed at the professionalism of the organisation, the commitment and desire of the players and the standard at which they played.
You could see why the two sides were competing to become the best team in the country and I believe that the continued presence of this competition will only benefit the sport in the long term.
In fact, I believe that other sports should follow suit and launch something on the same scale. Now they may already be in place, but I have never come across a football competition, organised by the FA, that culminates with a grand final at Wembley. If it is there, it needs more publicity. It needs to be made into a big deal amongst schools across the nation.
The big wigs at sports governing bodies need to be aware of what a competition like this can bring to teenagers. With Oakham, it unified the school, it gave them a desire to succeed as one. The whole school got behind its team. The players learnt what it meant to compete, what teamwork was about and that dedication can lead to success. And best of all, they were rewarded for their efforts.
I hope that other sports will take note of the competition and push it as hard as the RFU push the Daily Mail Cup. It can only be a good thing for the nation’s budding sports stars.