The RSA Cup: as it happened

Tension filled the air in the packed theatre at Arrow Vale RSA Academy – the crowd was hushed in anticipation, on the edge of their seats. Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, was poised Paxman-like with his question sheet between the two competing teams, Redditch and Holyhead School, who were going head-to-head for the title of RSA Cup champions. Both teams were eagerly hovering over their buzzers, ready to go.

That was the scene to be found at the final round of the RSA Cup, held at Arrow Vale on 15th July. Although the nail-biting tension had set in earlier that morning, thanks to the relentless round-robin elimination process – for whichever two teams had the lowest scores by the end of that round would be out for good, their hopes of winning the RSA Cup trophy dashed.

And so four teams took to the stage three times each to battle it out: Whitley, Tipton, Holyhead and the combined power of Arrow Vale and Ipsley to make Team Redditch, strove to be fastest-finger-first on the buzzer to reach the final. Roisin Ellison, RSA Academies Programme Co-ordinator and elimination-round quizmaster, tore through a formidable range of general knowledge questions but all teams more than rose to the challenge.

Unfortunately, there could only be two teams to go through to the final and, although both Whitley and Tipton displayed an impressive level of knowledge, it wasn’t quite enough to beat Redditch and Holyhead. A timely break before the concluding round allowed the winning teams to regroup while the audience was treated to Arrow Vale performing art students showcasing their music and drama talents, with the climactic drama shorts pushing the level of emotion even higher!

It was then time for Matthew Taylor to step into the role of quizmaster. Just before it all kicked off, Matthew took the opportunity to say how fantastic it was that the idea of the RSA Cup had come from one of the students – a great example of ideas being turned into action, something that the RSA is itself aiming to help all, not just the few, to do. And on that empowering note, Holyhead and Redditch took their seats for the RSA Cup final.

Emulating the style of University Challenge, the questions for the concluding round were separated into 8 topics: music, film, art, sport, history, science, geography and a picture round. All apart from the picture round had a starter question for 10, with three follow-up questions for 5 points each. And at no stage in the proceedings was there a clear winner. Neck-and-neck the whole way through, both teams put on a spectacular display, with the tension in the room visually building at the end of each round.

Finally, with no nails left to chew on, we reached the last picture round – 5 questions to go. The RSA Cup trophy was just within reach for either team. The first few questions, neither could answer, leaving the score at 155 to Redditch, 160 to Holyhead. Then Holyhead swooped in to answer the penultimate question… and so, with a score of 165, Holyhead was victorious! But Redditch, not giving up even in defeat, got those final 5 points with the last question, leaving the score 160 to Redditch, 165 to Holyhead.

So many congratulations to the Holyhead team. But the other schools should not despair… you only have to wait another year before you’ll get another chance to win the RSA Cup trophy!