Reigning champions Trent College opened their defence of the NatWest Vase for U18s with a solid 20-10 win over Loughborough Endowed Schools.
Trent lifted the Vase for the second time in four years at Twickenham in March, running six tries past Royal Latin School, of Buckingham, to claim a 43-7 victory and become the first school to lift the trophy twice since it was first contested in its current guise in 2000.
No fewer than eight of that Vase-winning squad, including brothers Ben and George Dickinson, who both started the final, will feature again this year. Meanwhile Harry Finney, younger brother of last season’s trophy-lifting fly-half, George, also steps up to the U18s and flanker Ethan Benstead takes over the mantle of first XV captain.
Loughborough provided a tough test, but the Long Eaton-based side were delighted to get their campaign off to a flier at the first Vase hurdle, especially as centre Dickinson was shown a red card midway through the first half for a high tackle.
In the year the school celebrates its 150th anniversary, head coach Steve McGinnis said: “Retaining eight of last year’s squad certainly helps, but we have moved on from that success and we are focusing on moulding this group of talented players. We have a strong group that will want to drive and compete for each other and raise standards across the board.
“They do have it all to prove and need to find their own way. I’m confident they can do this and have the potential to go all the way. But we can only take it one game at a time.”