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Hampton claim January award after a stunning month

January has been one of the most exciting months of the season so far, with players vying for selection to the U18 Academy League, to the U18 Divisional fixtures and to the Independent School Lambs, not to mention some serious Daily Mail action to go with the regular season games.

The big downside to this month though, from a sporting point of view, has been the weather. Hundreds of schools have seen fixtures cancelled week after week after week, indeed Wirral Grammar School’s Daily Mail Cup game against The King’s School Macclesfield was only completed yesterday, at the third attempt.

As such, selecting our Team of the Month for January is no easy task, but it is an enjoyable one none the less for we have seen some outstanding rugby being played despite the conditions.

Many of the ‘big hitters’ from last term have been in action, including Marlborough College who won our Team of the Term award. However this January was a different story for them, losing their one and only match to a rampant Sherborne side who had also beaten Bishop Wordsworth’s only days before, making them real contenders for the January award.

It was in the Daily Mail Cup that those Sherborne victories came, and they therefore find themselves in the quarter finals where they will face another of the pre-Christmas big hitters, Dulwich College.

Dulwich appear to have started where they left off, winning their only game of the month against KCS Wimbledon, and looking in the kind of form that has made them many people’s favourites for the Cup.

Speaking of favourites, Wilmslow High have put themselves in the running by defeating the previously unbeaten Durham School. That performance sees them become genuine challengers for the monthly award.

Outside of the Cup, Solihull have been in regular action, and after a poor start against Morgannwg they picked up to quick wins in succession and look a formidable outfit.

If they look formidable then Shrewsbury and John Fisher look like caged animals. Both looking in good nick with early wins, their ambitions have been held back by unplayable weather conditions, much to their annoyance.

However it is back to the Daily Mail that we must return for our Team of the Month award, the drama and intensity it has produced has been unprecedented and to ignore its claims would be wrong.

In the Vase both Tiffin and Yarm have been impressive, the irrepressible Zach Kilbrige making Yarm look like the team to beat. In the Cup, Warwick have been particularly impressive, defeating a Stamford side who were unbeaten up to that point, and doing so with relative ease.

However, there are three sides who truly stand out, not just for their results but who the drama that has accompanied those results, the delivery under pressure.

King’s School Macclesfield are simply one of the finest schools in the country at the moment, still undefeated, their 31-0 last 16 victory over Wirral Grammar School was astonishing, where most big sides have looked nervy, they simply blew their opposition out of the water.

Northampton School for Boys have delivered under pressure in a different manner though, written off before almost every game they have entered, by us as much as anyone else, they have just blasted away anyone who stands between themselves and Cup glory.

King’s Worcester, Oakham, Wellingborough, these are strong rugby schools, schools that would have fancied their chances against Northampton SfB, but let’s not forget, this is a school who in the form of Rotimi Segun have an England U17 international, underestimate them at your peril.

However, for us, there has been one team that has stood head and shoulders above the rest this term, a side that has defied the form book, defied the very notion of being the underdogs and played some terrific rugby along the way.

I speak of course of Hampton School. Their Daily Mail Cup last 16 game against Whitgift was a tremendous spectacle. Whitgift were among the favourites for the cup, and on a night were temperatures hit -4 many felt that they would use their big pack to bully Hampton off the park.

Not a bit of it, Hampton fronted up and committed to the breakdown like vultures to a carcass, it was brutal but it was clinical, controlled. On a cold night they showed glimpses of their superb back play, and it was that which sealed the game as they swept from one end of the field to the other with just a minute left on the clock.

They backed that up with a fine quarter final win against Truro School on Wednesday 30th, Truro had previously knocked out RGS High Wycombe and with a long trip for Hampton plus some typically coastal winds, many thought Hampton may have a fight on their hands. Not a bit of it, a 20-3 victory followed and a place in the semi finals of the Daily Mail Cup.

Our Team of the Term for January 2013 is Hampton School

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