National Schools Sevens
The National Schools Sevens is an English rugby union sevens tournament, held in association with Rosslyn Park F.C., that has evolved into the world's largest rugby tournament with some 7,000 boys and girls aged 13 - 19 competing annually. There are now well over 1,100 matches on the 5 groups of pitches (each one having its own Ground Management Team) every year.
Originally a tournament played amongst English public schools, the tournament has evolved and expanded over the years and now accepts sides from all over the world. Countries which have participated included Canada, China, Denmark, Guernsey, Hungary, India, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Kenya, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Spain, and the Ukraine as well as England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
NS7 Open Titles
|St. Edward's College, Liverpool||3|
|The John Fisher School||2|
The play for the first 4 days is centred around Wimbledon Common where there are 24 pitches. But the last day (Friday) the Open and Girls Tournaments remaining knockout rounds are held at Rosslyn Park. All the pitches, bar Rosslyn Park, are close together and there is just a short walk between them all.
Each Tournament has a similar format of Group matches on the first day with possibly a knockout round or two. The second day is for the knockout rounds, which culminate in the relevant Final. The Junior Tournament and the Preparatory Tournament (both under 13s) start on the Monday, the Festival (one term rugby schools) starts Tuesday, the Colts (under 16s) Wednesday, and the Girls Tournament and Open Tournament (both under 18s) start on Thursday.
There has been some recent speculation (November 2008) about the reasons for the Schools 7's inception. Some recent research by Richard Cable, of the BBC, shows that Rosslyn Park started holiday games for schoolboys following the Great War.  These were held in January and were believed to be in commemoration of Rosslyn Park members killed in action. This was the beginning of a strong link between the club and youth rugby - something that continues to this day. In 1938 it was known that an internal tournament took place at the club where members played as old boys representing their schools. The following year, and possibly as a result of some disagreement among the members as to whose school was better at "rugger", the Schools 7's was born.
The event was first held in 1939, and has been held every year since, becoming one of the oldest continuous tournaments for schools and the oldest ongoing schoolboy rugby tournament in the United Kingdom. The first tournament was won by St George's School, Harpenden, which was a fee-paying independent school at that time. It was intended to be a knock-out competition for English public schools but as interest grew it was extended to include state schools (both grammar and comprehensive) and preparatory schools. The format was also changed into pool groups so that no U16 or girls side played fewer than three matches and no U18 boys side fewer than four. Almost all the founding 16 schools compete to this day and, although it remains an invitation event, no eligible school would be refused entry upon application. In 1956 the Preparatory Schools competition was started for IAPS schools and in 1973 the Juniors (U13s) were held for the first time. In March 1997, a new competition was introduced for the U16s and it has been the policy during the past few years to invite schools from overseas who may be touring the UK to play in the tournament. Each year the number of schools applying increases. In 1998 the first girls (U18) competition was inaugurated, and a recent popular inclusion has been a sevens challenge match between Old Boys RFCs, the first of which was between Ampleforth and Millfield, who between them have won the senior tournaments a remarkable 21 times.
In recent years Millfield have enjoyed the most success in the 'Open' although in 2004, Ivybridge Community College pipped them in the final, just 14 years after the school took up the sport. John Fisher School has appeared in 4 Open finals between 1997 and 2009 winning twice. After Ben Gollings (currently world record points scorer on the IRB 7s circuit) took his Canford side to success in the 1997 Festival, the trophy was won either by Wellington or Cheltenham until Colston's broke the trend in 2006. The 2003 final seemed certain to be a record five on the trot for Wellington with their impressive international line-up but Cheltenham turned round a 0-12 half time score to win. The next year Cheltenham won it again after beating Taunton and then yet another win followed for Wellington College in 2005. Colstons won in 2006 (despite normally playing in the Open) and King's College, Taunton in 2007 after going so close in previous years.
Colston's School, Bristol made history in 2007 by becoming the first school ever to win both the Open (U18 Boys) and the Girls (U18) tournaments. Benenden School, in only their first season of rugby pushed them all the way in the final before eventually losing 19 - 17. Colston's girls could not repeat it in 2008, falling to East Norfolk 6th Form College in a high quality game and Sedbergh won the Open Tournament. The 2008 Tournament was broadcast live on the internet and was watched in over 30 countries.
In the 2009 tournament. Millfield continued their success, winning both the 'Open' and the Colts tournament. In the Festival Epsom College were defeated by Wellington College. Neath Port Talbot ended Colstons Girl's continued their dominance to take the title. In 2010 Millfield won the Open, Colts & Prep Schools Tournaments; Tonbridge School beat Wellington in the Festival and Hartpury cruised to the Girls title.
In 2011 HSBC became the Tournament sponsor. By now the event had four separate food outlet centres, thirty two exhibitors and a large screen for results and advertising. Film highlights from the previous day were uploaded the next morning and mixed with the advertising content on a large LED screen. At the same time as these changes Millfield's recent dominance faded and they failed to make the next day's play off rounds in any tournament. South Gloucestershire and Stroud College won the Open, Hartpury College won the Girls and Tonbridge won the Colts.
All the results are updated on the official website throughout each day.
The tournament is now recognised as a breeding ground for top British international rugby players, many of whom first started out playing in the competition.
- Ade Adebayo (Kelly, 1987)
- Rob Andrew (Barnard Castle, 1980)
- Iain Balshaw (Stonyhurst)
- Nick Beal (RGS High Wycombe, 1987/88)
- Kyran Bracken (Stonyhurst)
- Lawrence Dallaglio (Ampleforth, 1989)
- Will Carling (Terra Nova, 1975/76)
- Justyn Cassell (Dulwich, 1984)
- Matt Dawson (RGS High Wycombe, 1986, 1990/91)
- Phil Dowson (Sedbergh, 1999)
- Phil de Glanville (Bryanston, 1985)
- Ben Gollings (Canford, 1997)
- Andrew Harriman (Radley, 1981)
- James Haskell (Wellington, 2002)
- Damian Hopley (St Benedict's, 1982)
- Jonathan Joseph (Millfield, 2009)
- Tim Rodber (Churcher's, 1986)
- Chris Robshaw (Millfield, 2006)
- Paul Sackey (John Fisher, 1998)
- Chris Sheasby (Caldicott, 1978 / Radley, 1983)
- James Simpson-Daniel (Sedbergh, 1999)
- Rory Underwood (Barnard Castle, 1980)
Other notable former players include rugby coaches Les Cusworth (Normanton Grammar, 1970/71) and Peter Rossborough (King Henry VIII Coventry, 1967), Liam Botham (Rossall, 1995), horse trainer Ian Balding (Marlborough, 1957) and Queen Elizabeth's grandson Peter Phillips (Port Regis Prep/Gordonstoun).