The Team of the Term is one of the most difficult decisions we at Fifteen Rugby have had to make so far, outstanding performances across the country have made it an indescribably close call.
For us though there have been four teams that have stood out above all others, Dulwich College, Durham School, Marlborough College and Millfield School.
There have been many others deserving of praise too such as Radley College, St Paulâ€™s, Kingâ€™s School Macclesfield, Wellington College and Bryanston to name just a few, but none have quite matched the outstanding achievements of those above.
Dulwich went into the 2012/13 season off the back of their outstanding 2011/12 season, where they won the St Josephâ€™s Festival and the Daily Mail Cup, with many expecting them to perform well but for their form to be less than that of last year.
How wrong everyone was, Dulwich have kicked on magnificently, if anything they look slightly better than the side that claimed Daily Mail glory last year.
The only blots on an otherwise perfect season have been a 13-13 draw at Wellington College at the beginning of the season and a tough 7-0 loss to Millfield at the St Josephâ€™s Festival.
Other than that though it has been a case of â€˜how much will they win byâ€™ every time Dulwich take to the field. InÂ Ibunaokpe, Reason, Obano, Wroe-Wright and FraserÂ they boast some of the finest school players in the country and it would be no surprise to see this bunch collect a second Daily Mail Cup winners medal.
One side that might fancy their chances of stealing Dulwichâ€™s crown though are Durham School.
Durham have had a fine season and return to school next week unbeaten and ready for more. Two draws have been the only stains on an otherwise perfect season, though to call them stains when they come against two of the giants of the schoolboy scene in Sedbergh and Merchiston Castle seems harsh.
Their Daily Mail Cup run has generated some real interest and excitement in them from across the county, and their rearranged 5thÂ Round game against RGS Newcastle is one of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures on the calendar, so big is it that when they played outside of the cup it was held at Kingston Park, home of the Newcastle Falcons.
InÂ David ElliotÂ they possess one of the form wingers in the country, and his hat trick for the North Lambs against Hymers College really forced the rest of the country to wake up to his talent.
If Durham have taken the North by storm then the same can be said of Marlborough College in the South, winning every game bar one.
Marlborough have been simply outstanding since the word go and their one defeat came against one of the strongest sides in the country this year, Radley College.
Their Daily Mail Cup run has been impressive too and a last 16 game against either Sherborne or Bishopâ€™s Wordsworth ought to be very winnable for the classy side, entering them into the last 8 where the competition becomes truly national.
Wins against Bryanston, Sherborne, Wellington, St Paulâ€™s and Stowe show just how good this side is and a match up against any of the other three sides in contention for the Team of the Team would be simply mouth watering.
Perhaps most mouth watering of all would be a game against Millfield for a test of who the true kingâ€™s of South West rugby are.
Millfield have, as ever, been sensational this season with some huge victories and in particular their St Jospehâ€™s Festival win.
Millfield simply blew the opposition off the park at St Jospehâ€™s where they not only won the competition but also the Player of the Tournament,Â Sam Denham, and the Try of the Tournament,Â Tom Whiteley, awards, reflecting their total domination.
Three defeats may sound like a lot in one term but they must be seen in context, two of them were to AASE opposition in Hartpury and Filton and so cannot be seen in the same light as defeats to other schools. That the AASE Collegeâ€™s see Millfield as an opposition good enough to take on speaks volumes.
Defeat against Bryanston hurt Millfield though, a sloppy start meaning that they always had to fight back and eventually they just ran out of time falling to a 19-20 defeat. That defeat though was probably the catalyst to their superb St Josephâ€™s run.
Throughout the team they have quality, so much so that to list them would be valueless, it would just be the team sheet. Special praise though must go to captainÂ Robbie TaitÂ whose play and leadership have been equally excellent, while in the backlineÂ Callum SheedyÂ has brought a sense of energy and adventure from fly half that is rare to see at school level.
So to the award, and what an agonising decision it has been, virtually every moment of the Christmas break has been dominated by this choice.
After much debate it was decided that the award must come down to a choice between Millfield and Marlborough. For all the excellence of Durham and Dulwich it was felt that Durhamâ€™s draws came against opposition the others would have beaten judging by form, and while Dulwich have been simply outstanding, the St Josephâ€™s victory of Millfield meant that they had to be considered slightly above the men from the South East.
With Millfield and Marlborough to choose Â from then, it became simply a results based business, and Millfieldâ€™s three defeats had to start counting somewhere, regardless of the opposition.
As such, we are proud to announce thatÂ Marlborough CollegeÂ are our Team of the Term.
Thirteen wins from fourteen games is outstanding by anyoneâ€™s judgment but it is the manner of those victories which is perhaps the most impressive. They have simply dominated their opposition and scored tries almost at will.
Their form has been sustained all term and if they can continue to sustain it through the Lent Term then a Daily Mail Cup win is very much on the cards.
It goes without saying though that all four of these teams have been brilliant though and on any given day the award could have gone to any of them. Perhaps really the purpose of this piece is to say to all four, thank you for a wonderful term of rugby and long may it continue.
By Angus Savage
AASE Collegeâ€™s were not considered for the Team of the Term as the quality and quantity of their training makes it impossible to judge them on a level footing. However special mentions must be given to Hartpury and Filton who have been simply outstanding over the past term. The quality and organisation of their play is an example to all and the number of their players involved in the U18 Premiership demonstrates their quality in abundance.