News from the School – March 2017

Whitgift School House Music Competition on 01/02/17
Photography by / Danny Fitzpatrick

Such has been the success of Whitgift Hockey in recent years, that the governing body of England Hockey have chosen us as a venue to host some of the finals of the age group national cups. Indeed, earlier on this year, over the weekend of 13-15 January, both the U16 and U18 National Indoor Finals took place in our very own sports hall. The U16s played some sublime hockey to reach the final, where they came up against a very resilient Repton side, who proceeded to just edge a very tight affair. The U18s almost went one step further, drawing their final 1 – 1 against Kingston Grammar, only to fall at the very last hurdle by losing the penalty flick shoot-out. In the outdoor game, the First XI have reached half-term unbeaten,  notching up impressive victories over Oxford University, 3 – 2, and the old enemy, Trinity, 7 – 2, on the way. The U15 A team have also won all their matches thus far and the U16As recently won their county championship, beating Trinity 6 – 1 in the final.

Whitgift rugby finished the half-term on a high with the U13s and U15s both winning difficult away fixtures to reach the final and semi-final of their respective National Cups. The U13s have enjoyed a fantastic season, winning 17 and drawing 2 of their 19 fixtures, and they overcame the long drive down to Bristol to crush Colston’s 35 – 10 in their National Semi-Final. Their final is due to be played at Maidenhead RFC on 15th March. The U15s had an arguably tougher task ahead of them in the Natwest Cup Quarter Final, as they had to go all the way up to Sedbergh to play them on their home turf. They returned victorious with an 11 – 5 victory. They have won 21 of their 22 fixtures thus far, with their only loss coming against a very strong Wellington side, who they just so happen to have been drawn against in the semi-final, which takes place at Allianz Park on 19th March. One final piece of rugby news is that the U16 A side, coached by none other than Whitgift rugby legend, Chris Kibble, won all of their matches this season. Whilst they do not have a national cup to participate in, they still have an incredibly tough series of ‘friendly’ fixtures (Wellington, Wawrick, Millfield, to name a few!) to negotiate and it was nice to see Kibbs get crowned coach of the year by his fellow coaches for leading the side to such a magnificent season; he can still teach the rest of us a thing or two!

In football, the wins also just keep on coming. The U15s’ unbeaten run in this season’s ISFA competition has culminated in a coveted place in the national final. A nail-biting semi-final against Hampton School saw the teams go into extra time following a 1-1 draw. The match ended in a penalty shoot-out, with Whitgift just pipping the opposition 5-4. The squad will be hoping to make this the third U15 ISFA Cup win since Whitgift started entering the competition, in 2011. The U13s, on the other hand, are striving for their 7th consecutive ISFA cup glory. The boys defeated Brentwood School, 6-0, with an impressive semi-final performance, on 26th January. The team will now play Moorlands School in the final, a repeat of last year’s U12 ESFA national final. The team’s run to the final has been hugely impressive, amassing 45 goals from the five rounds played so far. Mr Andrew Martin, Whitgift’s Director of Football, commented, “It is fantastic for both the U13s and U15s to reach their respective ISFA finals, to join the U11s, who had already qualified. Three out of four ISFA finals is a great achievement, but the hard work starts now, to give ourselves the best possible chance to win both finals.”

One part of the school that has been most encouraging to see flourish recently is the Academic Enrichment Programme. Headed up by Mr Tom Biddle, the programme has seen a variety of speakers come to address the boys on pertinent cultural and academic issues. Most recently, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Rowan Williams, gave an inspirational talk on the German Lutheran Pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He expounded upon Bonhoeffer’s life and political philosophy, paying particular attention to how he resisted the Nazi Party, and drew out important moral and intellectual lessons that we can learn from him. The large audience of boys and staff in Big School were enthralled by what he had to say.

The annual House Music extravaganza rolled into town right at the start of February and this year’s offering did not disappoint. The guest judge this year was none other than OW piano-playing virtuoso, Anthony Strong. He was heartily impressed by all he saw and awarded first place to Brodie’s House, whose rendition of Earth, Wind and Fire’s September brought the house (well, Big School!) down. His judge’s comments were fascinating to listen to and highly appreciated by the boys; indeed, at one point his enthusiasm got the better of him and he leaped off the stage to demonstrate something on the magnificent Steinway Grand – talk about dedication to the craft! Also on a musical note, rehearsals for the upcoming opera Eugene Onegin are well underway and the final performances (in Big School from 12 – 18 March) are set to be stunning. I would know – it’s one of the perks of having an office located so close to Big School! For more details and information on how to book tickets for this intriguing prospect, please visit:

To finish off, I thought it might be interesting to give a brief insight into what the boys get up to outside of term time. Now you might think that at a school as busy as Whitgift, the boys would like to put their feet up and enjoy a well-earned break when the holidays come around, but this is far from the case, as you will see from this list of February half-term school trips:

  1. Lower Third exchange to Zaragoza
  2. Sixth Form Spanish trip to Madrid
  3. Ski trip to Valle D’Aosta
  4. Golf Competition in Desert Springs Resort, Spain
  5. U13 Hockey tour to Barcelona
  6. Rowing Camp in Tideway
  7. CCF Training Camp in Crowborough

These are just the trips available to the boys; I have not included the activities going on at school – and all this going on in the shortest holiday of the year! A Whitgift boy is a busy boy, and that can only be a good thing.

Dom Edwards OW (1988-96)