Following one of Eton’s First XV’s finest seasons, the squad achieved a historic milestone by earning a coveted place in the prestigious World Schools Festival held in Thailand in December 2023.
This annual tournament gathers some of the most formidable schoolboy teams from the Northern and Southern hemispheres, presenting the Eton team with an unparalleled opportunity to compete against schools from New Zealand, South Africa, Wales, Ireland, and England.
The team concluded their 2023 season with a 34-5 victory over Bishop’s Wordsworth’s, setting the stage for their international challenge. The juxtaposition of Thailand’s hot and sunny climate with the cold, wet conditions in Eton the weekend prior added an intriguing dynamic to the team’s journey.
Swiftly adapting to the unfamiliar weather, the boys faced a challenging opponent in South Africa’s Dr E.G Jansen School. The match unfolded as a gruelling and physical battle, in what was described as an “arm wrestle” for the majority of the game. Despite a stellar blind-side run resulting in the final score by Captain Freddie B-S, the team fell short, allowing the South Africans to advance to the next round.
Undeterred, the team quickly redirected their focus to Cardiff and Vale, showcasing rapid preparations that concluded in a resounding victory over the Welsh side. Eton’s XV performance attracted attention, with Izaak M and Chinonso O both receiving acclaim on social media for their individual performance.
The team’s impressive journey met its culmination in a hard-fought match against the mighty Oakdale School side from South Africa. Even in defeat, the boys demonstrated brilliant spirit as the week concluded with Westlake Boys High School of New Zealand ultimately claiming the coveted trophy.
This transformative 2023 season marked a significant turning point for rugby at Eton College. Hundreds of boys back at home offered their support, keeping up with the games on the livestream, despite the time difference.
Captain Freddie B-S attributes the team’s success to the “strong sense of brotherhood” among the players, emphasising how it enabled them to persevere in challenging moments. Proudly acknowledging their unprecedented achievement at the School, he highlighted that this team has “not only influenced and inspired a new generation of rugby players but has also demonstrated that Eton can excel on both the national and international stages”.
The impact of their journey is indicative of a bright future for rugby at Eton College, promising continued success and growth in the sport.