20th November 2019 — Gordon's School’s two point victory over Emanuel at the home of the Harlequins, The Stoop, in the Daily Mail Trophy was written in the stars.
Welsh-born head coach, Chris Davies arrived at the school last year taking up the post of Head of House and Rugby and has been injecting the school teams with his wealth of experience - resulting in an upsurge in form.
After an indifferent start to the season, the first XV have won four consecutive games – the last the thriller against Emanuel at the Stoop, which resurrects their fortunes in the competition.
You would have forgiven Davies for not having had his eye on the ball. The former skills coach and analyst for the Fiji National sevens team was approached ten days ago to be on the coaching team for Fiji’s international against the Barbarians at Twickenham – which Fiji won, you’ve guessed it, by two points.
Davies, who as well as his ties with Fiji has worked with London Wasps, Abu Dhabi Harlequins and the Hong Kong Rugby Union wasn’t getting carried away with two nail-biting wins in three days.
“The boys have worked really hard since day one, this season we have continued to build upon our attack shape added with our effort on effort in all we do. We are certainly not the biggest of teams but have now found a way of playing which I feel is quite different to the opposition that we encounter.
“We have a small player base compared to the schools that we are playing and are happy as a group to test ourselves against higher ranked teams week in week out. This has certainly built up some resilience in the boys and it has been a steep learning curve for them but they have responded well.
“I am very thankful to Gordon’s for giving me the opportunity to work with Fiji last week and it was certainly a test mentally to hold down several demanding jobs, this also gave me the opportunity to allow other coaches to take more responsibility and develop their skill set with our U18s”
Gordon’s fighting qualities had to be in evidence against Emanuel, who drew first blood, going over in the eighth minute to lead 5-0 and then added a penalty - but two penalties in turn from Max McCarthy kept Gordon’s in touch at half time.
Soon after the break the quicksilver Kyle Campbell was put through by Corum Nott and scored in the corner, but Emanuel then seemed to find another gear as they bossed the game for the next quarter, adding a penalty and a second try to lead 16-11.
In a frantic last ten minutes Gordon’s built their own head of steam and finally Campbell found himself on the end of a clever chip through by the gifted Gideon Jansen and scored out wide again. Jansen himself stepped up and added the crucial winning points from the touch-line.
The Daily Mail Trophy is a competition for the leading rugby schools across the country.