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Fascinating Weekend of School Rugby Approaches

After an astonishing and thrilling weekend of schoolboy rugby last weekend, it seems hard to believe that if anything there is an even more competitive fixture list this week.

There are five fixtures that we think are particularly worth keeping a close eye on this weekend, fixtures which could see some big statements made in the Daily Mail Trophy. You can predict the outcome of four of those fixtures in our latest competition and be in with a chance of winning a Fifteen Rugby t-shirt.

Barnard Castle v Yarm (Daily Mail Trophy)

Barnard Castle lost 23-19 to Durham School last week whilst Yarm drew 17-17 with Hymers College; both results were a real sign of how close and competitive the school scene in the North of England is this year. While Barnard Castle may have lost, the manner and margin of defeat showed just how far they have progressed from what was, by their lofty standards, a tough season last year. Yarm meanwhile were under pressure to perform after their fantastic exploits in the Daily Mail Vase last year so to make sure that they escaped with a draw last weekend against a good Hymers side was vital.

With home advantage Barnard Castle will probably just have the edge but both know how crucial this is for their season going forward and Yarm do have the big game experience from last year.

Prediction – Barnard Castle

Bryanston v Marlborough (Daily Mail Trophy)

What a fixture this is, two of the strongest side from last year pitted against each other so early on. This is Bryanston’s first game of the season and with their England contingent now finished their school education, this is a year in which Bryanston will be desperate to show that their strength remains. Marlborough are already underway with a 16-10 victory over Monmouth (Video Highlights – Marlborough v Monmouth) and are looking to back that up tomorrow as they begin a sequence that sees them take on Bryanston, Wellington and Cheltenham – a tough run of games by any measure.

While Marlborough were fantastic last year and look strong again this year, and Bryanston have lost some exceptional players, we do still have a lingering feeling that Bryanston’s collective strength will just see them over the line, particularly at home. It will be mighty close though.

Prediction – Bryanston

Dulwich College v Wellington College (Daily Mail Trophy)

Last year this fixture produced an excellent 13-13 draw before both sides went on to have fantastic season, Dulwich winning back-to-back Daily Mail Cup’s and Wellington becoming the 7-a-side champions of the country.

This year should be fascinating, both sides have lost some unbelievably talented players and are under pressure to live up to the legacy of 2012/13, however both have plenty of talent still lingering. Judging form coming into this one is tricky, Wellington lost at home to RGS High Wycombe in a result that was something of a surprise, however RGS are brilliantly strong this year, while Dulwich put 60 points on Langley Park – an excellent result no doubt but, without wishing to sound disrespectful, Langley are no RGS.

This really is a fixture that is almost impossible to call, Dulwich undoubtedly go into the game with greater confidence but Wellington come at it having had one of the toughest workouts they will have all season last weekend, so are therefore battle hardened.

Logic says we would be mad to make a prediction, this column says we must.

Prediction – Wellington College, just.

Durham v RGS Newcastle (Daily Mail Trophy)

Unfortunately moved from Friday to Saturday and from Kingston Park to the school grounds, this was a fixture we had been planning to see before the late switch.

Last year Durham grabbed the win and went on to have a very successful season, RGS by contrast ended up having a rather slow start, although as half term approached they really began to pick up some momentum.

As we have already seen, Durham beat Barnard Castle last weekend, meanwhile RGS lost to George Waston’s 31-12, suggesting that Durham are likely to edge it once again.

Prediction – Durham

RGS High Wycombe v Millfield (Daily Mail Trophy)

RGS High Wycombe confirmed what everyone expected when they beat Wellington last week, that they are a force to be reckoned with this year. Beating Wellington was perhaps not what was expected but their quality was.

Millfield by contrast were not expected to travel to Warwick and come away with just a draw. What we do know though is that there are no bad Millfield teams; they tend to be either just good or excellent. So the question is did an excellent side face an excellent Warwick side, or did a decent Warwick side catch out a good Millfield side?

That question ought to be answered tomorrow when RGS are the hosts, for we know that they are excellent.

It usually takes a brave man to predict against Millfield but off the back of last week’s results it would seem foolish not to make RGS High Wycombe the favourites for this one. Millfield have exceptional talent though and will be determined to ensure that last weekend was just a blip – it is never wise to write them off.

Prediction – RGS High Wycombe

Other Fifteen Rugby Feature Matches (predictions in bold):

Bromsgrove v Warwick (Daily Mail Trophy) – After that draw last weekend, how can we not back Warwick?

Campion v John Fisher – John Fisher had a good result against Hurstpierpoint last week, they should be well into their rhythm now, especially after their tour.

Haileybury v Bedford Modern – A big defeat for Haileybury last week and a big win for Bedford Modern (albeit against Harrow’s 2nds) makes Bedford Modern favourites.

Oakham v Stowe (Daily Mail Trophy) – Although Stowe lost to Stamford last week, their form at Tynedale suggest they should still beat an Oakham side that edged past Loughborough alst week.

Oundle v Stamford (Daily Mail Trophy) – A superb win for Stamford against Stowe last week and a heavy defeat for Oundle against Bedford makes Stamford the firm favourites tomorrow.

Sherborne v Radley (Daily Mail Trophy) – This is Radley’s first game of the season while Sherborne are already up and running after beating Blundell’s last week, just favourites.

St Edward’s Oxford v Rugby (Daily Mail Trophy) – Both won last weekend but in beating Cheltenham well Rugby showed enough to suggest they can win in Oxford.

Uppingham v Bedford (Daily Mail Trophy) – Tricky to call, Bedford smashed Oundle last week but then lost to NSB in midweek. Uppingham beat The Perse last week so go in with form. Weight of the Oundle victory makes Bedford favourites – just.

Worth v King’s Canterbury – As long as midweek NatWest Cup action has not fatigued King’s too much then they ought to be able to win this one.

Other Key Fixtures (Predictions in bold):

Ampleforth v Grammar School at Leeds

Bishop’s Stortford College v Royal Hospital School

Bristol Grammar School v Blundell’s (Daily Mail Trophy)

Clifton v King’s Taunton (Daily Mail Trophy)

Dean Close v Colston’s

Ellesmere v Old Swinford Hospital

Eton College v London Oratory (Daily Mail Trophy)

Harrow v Epsom College (Daily Mail Trophy)

Hurstpierpoint v Brighton College (Daily Mail Trophy)

King’s Macclesfield v Manchester Grammar School (Daily Mail Trophy)

Kirkham Grammar School v Sandbach (Daily Mail Trophy)

Malvern College v Prior Park

Monmouth v Cheltenham College (Daily Mail Trophy)

Princethorpe College v Ratcliffe

Queen’s Taunton v Downside

RGS Guildford v Hampton (Daily Mail Trophy)

Sevenoaks v Cranbrook

Solihull v King’s Worcester (Daily Mail Trophy)

St George’s College v Reeds

Tonbridge v Eastbourne

Whitgift v Bishop Wordsworth

We would love to hear your thoughts on this weekend’s matches – who do you think will win? What do you think of our prediction, are they on the mark or are they bang on?

You can get in touch through the comment box below, or through Facebook or Twitter (@FifteenRugbyXV).

You can send in your match report, photos, videos & comments to promotions@fifteenrugby.com or via @FifteenRugbyXV and via Facebook. The more info you send us, the more we can feature your school.

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