Oundle School’s bid for NatWest Schools Cup final a family affair for the Olvers

Oundle became the third side to reach the U18 NatWest Cup semi-finals after defeating Lymm High School, 21-12. EMN-150216-111842001
Oundle became the third side to reach the U18 NatWest Cup semi-finals after defeating Lymm High School, 21-12. EMN-150216-111842001

Oundle School rugby coach John Olver is hoping his two nephews will bring him another trip to Twickenham for a major final.

Ben and Tom Curry are part of the Oundle Schools Under 18 team preparing for a semi-final, against Bromsgrove, in the NatWest Schools Cup under the coaching of their uncle, a former England international at hooker.

Olver admits he is full of “cup fever” some 27 years on from leading Harlequins to success in the 1988 national knockout cup against Bristol.

“There’s nothing like a good cup run to heighten the interest and get everyone together,” he explained in the lead to the semi-final on Saturday 7 March at Allianz Park, the home of Saracens.

Olver is used to coaching members of his family, having helped guide son Sam, the England Under 20 fly half, who is now full-time at Northampton Saints after studying at Oundle.

However, he believes coaching his two nephews, who both play in the back row, is easier than trying to guide Sam who took his advice from co-coach at Oundle in another former England international, fly half Simon Hodgkinson.

Olver said: “It’s slightly easier coaching my nephews, because they take slightly more notice than Sam did. I was his dad and your kids aren’t necessarily the most receptive to parental advice.

“If Simon told him [Sam] something he would listen, but if I told him he wouldn’t always. As a fly half he looked upon us forwards as necessary evils. Ben and Tom are slightly more receptive.”

Ben and Tom, who are the sons of Olver’s sister, Susanne, both represented England Under 16 last season and have experienced the disappointment of a semi-final defeat after losing the Under 15 semi-final when playing for Bishop Heber, from Cheshire, two years’ ago.

They joined Oundle last summer and are part of a young team including a good number of lower sixth players.

Olver added: “I’m quite excited because there are nine of this team who are lower sixth boys. It means, if they continue to work hard, they could pull up a few trees next season. But we will see.”

He is forecasting a close game against Bromsgrove who won a regular Saturday fixture earlier in the season, 26-20. Both schools are seeking a first appearance in the Under 18 final.

“It’s going to be another very tough game - they know us and we know them. It will be a good yardstick to see who has improved the most over the season. We were 15-7 up at half-time, but they took their chances in the second half a bit better.”

Olver said he was looking forward to meeting up afterwards with the Bromsgrove coaches in Tony Windo, the former Gloucester prop, and Paul Mullan, the head of sport, who is the father of England international Matt.

“We are good rugby mates and it’s going to be a good occasion. I make them slight favourites,” Olver added about a semi-final in the main competition which is followed by holders Dulwich meeting Wilmslow High School in the other semi-final.