NatWest Cup Draw Decided

The draw for the NatWest Schools Cup has been recently completed for the 2013/14 season with some intriguing encounters already taking shape.

Champions Dulwich College have been handed a bye, along with many others, and the draw has shone favourably on them with a first big challenge appearing to the prospect of 2012/13 Vase finalists Felsted School in the fifth round, although a tricky fourth round tie likely to be against either Ravens Wood or Eltham College may interest a few.

The tournament has had a controversial change this year after it was announced that the Daily Mail had been dropped as the title sponsor in favour of NatWest bank, despite the newspaper having sponsored the tournament since its inception.

However with a fresh sponsor comes a new logo and an air of freshness to the tournament and it is with a great sense of excitement that the build up to round 2 (the unofficial start of the tournament) begins, starting with the North A section of the draw.

Bradford Grammar School, back to back winners in 1992 and ’93, take on Horsforth in the opening round, while at the top of the draw the two great north eastern rivals, RGS Newcastle and Durham, look set to meet each other in the 5th Round.

The winner of that tie looks set to play a mouth-watering tie against three time runners up and Schools Cup legends Barnard Castle, provided the famous rugby school can get past a likely fourth round tie against last years’ Vase winners Yarm School.

Another tantalising potential fourth round fixture in North A could be between two of the star schools of last year, Wilmslow High and King’s Macclesfield.

North B looks a little quieter though Lymm High v St Ambrose College in the first round looks set to be a feisty fixture and a potential clash between School Cup triple runners up QEGS Wakefield and Ampleforth College in the fifth round looks enticing, particularly as the winner will probably face Hymers College.

In the Midlands A draw Stamford School look to have a fantastic chance of going deep into the tournament after being gifted what looks like a favourable draw, though it must be said that in the NatWest Schools Cup predicting form is often a fools game.

By contrast though, one of Bishop’s Stortford High School and St Columba’s will go home after just one game, they face each other in the first round despite both being very capable of taking the Midlands A competition.

Another tough draw is Solihull v Bishop Vesey’s in the first round, both sides have the ability to go far, though one suspects that their efforts are likely to receive a thoroughly stern test in a likely 5th Round tie against 2007 Champions and 2013 semi finalists Warwick.

Last years’ finalists, Northampton School for Boys, play one of only two pre confirmed 3rd round ties. They face Akeley Wood and could then face a tricky 5th round tie, assuming they get through the 4th round, against either Oundle or back to back champions in 2002 and 2003 Oakham, who play probably meet in Round 3.

South East A looks to be a firecracker of a draw, two of the toughest opening round fixtures are Seaford v Christ’s Hospital and Hurstpierpoint v Worth, the winners of which will play each in the following round.

Following that it seems likely that the winner of the tie will progress to play 2010 & 2011 champions Whitgift in the 5th Round with the winner of that game set to play last years’ semi finalists Hampton in the second round – a tough draw by anyone’s standards!

Hampton of course will have to overcome a few tricky ties before that point no, most notably likely ties against KCS Wimbledon, Wimbledon College and St Benedict’s. 2001 Champions Campion School play Robert Clack.

With such a loaded ‘A’ side of the draw, South East B is inevitably a little less tough looking, with holders Dulwich looking the most likely to progress, though Felsted will be aiming to push hard.

The top half of South West A also looks a little quiet, though it gives Truro School the chance to show their credentials again after a tremendous showing last year. That side looks likely to be dominated by Millfield School though, despite the fact that they are likely to once again field a second team for some games.

If the top half is quiet though then the bottom half is certainly loaded. Sherborne, Stowe and 2006 Champions St Peter’s Gloucester all receive byes, with St Peter’s and Stowe looking likely to face each other in Round 5 ahead of a tantalising probable 6th Round match against Sherborne.

South West B is equally loaded, Marlborough College, one of the best sides last year, look set to face the consistent Bishop Wordsworth in Round 4 before potentially face twice runners-up RGS High Wycombe in Round 6.

The king’s of the tournament, winners seven times including six back-to-back, Colston’s look as tough they have a very handy draw until they face a tricky task against either Blundell’s or 2005 champions Exeter College in Round 6.

All in all it looks an exciting draw with a good mix of tough matches and the ability to pick a path for some of the most exciting teams in the draw to meet each other later on.

The tournament may well have changed its name and sponsor but judging by this draw and the talk surrounding it then the tournament has lost none of its unique charm and excitement.

What do you think of your school’s draw? Do you think Dulwich College could make it three in a row or will someone new leave another new name on the trophy, or could one of the old guard come back for another title?

As ever, we would love to hear your thoughts!

NatWest Schools Cup 2013/14 draw:

http://www.rfu.com/thegame/competitions/~/media/files/2013/thegame/competitions/natwestcup/natwestschoolscup_u18.ashx 

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