BEECHEN Cliff School teacher Jack Utton is proud of his rugby team’s spirit after they booked their place at StoneX Stadium for the under-15s Continental Tyres Schools Vase Final, writes Joe Harvey.

Beechen Cliff beat St Albans School 29-26 in a thrilling semi-final in Aylesbury to book a date with Durham School at the home of six-time English champions Saracens.

Hector Dalby-Walsh and Harry Osbourne scored the crucial tries for Beechen Cliff, who were pegged back by St Albans after growing an early lead.

PE teacher Mr Utton hopes his team will take plenty of encouragement as they prepare for the final next week.

He said: “I think the worst game to lose is a semi-final. Whatever happens come the final, the boys will build on this opportunity that they have had just now.

“It is nerve-wracking, it is probably the biggest game they have ever played at this age level, experiencing a crowd.

“The professionalism they have experienced today has really provided them with that footing to move onto that next step and not be a deer in the headlights and to take that opportunity and want it.”

Continental Tyres and the RFU are working together to grow rugby through school-linked activities and 171,404 age grade players have registered to play this season, almost 3,000 more than the overall figure last year.

England legend James Haskell and current squad member Charlie Ewels were at Aylesbury and helped out the schools’ coaches with warm ups, ran on the drinks and interacted with fans.

"My very first experience of playing rugby involving a bit of jeopardy in intensity was the Continental Tyres Schools Cup," Haskell said.

"It kind of made me fall in love with rugby, these boys will love the opportunity to play in a final at StoneX Stadium.

"For me it was addictive, and you can see the emotion of the kids today, for some it is heartbreak and for some others elation.

"For some it's the opportunity to become legends, and for some it's to treasure, then want to go on and do more. 

"For some, this is the peak, this is the greatest summit they'll ever reach. And that's it.”

The Continental Tyres Schools Cup is an important part of the age-grade rugby landscape in England, with schools’ rugby often where players fall in love with the game for the first time. For more information visit the Continental Tyres Schools Cup section of the England Rugby Website.