The start of a new month means that it is time for us to look back at the first month of the School Rugby season and to pick out our first Team of the Month of the 2013/14 season.
The month started with a bang as the opening weekend let plenty of people around the country open mouthed, Warwickâ€™s draw with Millfield and RGS High Wycombeâ€™s away win against Wellington grabbed the headlines but Bedfordâ€™s 50-10 victory against Oundle and Stamford beating the Tynedale Festival winners, Stowe, were equally attention grabbing.
Week two saw things return to a more stable footing, Millfield and Wellington both bounced back well, Millfield beating RGS and Wellington winning at Dulwich College. Bryanston got off to a good start, handsomely beating Marlborough â€“ a result that seemed significant at the time but on reflection has become less so.
Epsom College put fifty points on Harrow to add to their victory against Tonbridge the week before, firmly taking them to the forefront of the minds of the school rugby world. Radley had begun their season a week later than everyone else but it did not hold them back, a strong win against Sherborne stated their intentions for the season very clearly.
Kingâ€™s Macclesfield, Kirkham Grammar and Durham notched up their second wins in succession, while Barnard Castle beat last yearâ€™s School Vase winners, Yarm, 48-22. Woodhouse Grove also looked in great nick, rugby in the North looks in very good hands right now.
Between weeks two and three we saw one of the most stunning midweeks of School Rugby that we can recall, Sedbergh began their season with a fifty point win over Wilmslow High, while Millfield demolished Welsh wonders Coleg Sir Gar and Wellington beat Marlborough 41-0, a stunning result. Durham and Hampton rounded the midweek fixtures off with strong victories over Lorreto and Eltham respectively.
Sedbergh carried their form into the weekend, beating RGS Newcastle well, whilst Uppingham and Stamford both made it three from three and looked very healthy indeed.
Dulwich lost to KCS Wimbledon, KCS cementing the belief that they are a big dark horse in the South East A section of the NatWest Cup draw this year.
A third win on the bounce for John Fisher ensured they were not forgotten, whilst St Paulâ€™s victory over Radley was the perfect antidote to defeat the week before.
Clifton also notched a third win in a row, they beat Bryanston 29-8 to make the rugby world take notice, victory in midweek against QEH left them with four wins from four in September and strong contenders for the monthly accolade.
Midweek saw good wins for Bedford, Radley, Solihull and St Edwardâ€™s over Harrow, Eton, Stowe and Malvern â€“ Solihullâ€™s effort was all the more impressive given their brilliant comeback following a heavy deficit at half time.
The final weekend of the month saw Durham, Kingâ€™s Macclesfield, Sedbergh, Woodhouse Grove and Kirkham Grammar School complete unbeaten Septemberâ€™s, Sedberghâ€™s form making them probably the team to beat in the North, though Woodhouse Grove are very impressive too and Grammar School at Leeds finished the month with 100 points scored in their final two games.
Bedford ended Stamfordâ€™s two year unbeaten home run with a 22-17 victory while Warwick and Brighton both collected victories to leave them on three from four for the month.
Hampton completed an unbeaten month, as did John Fisher who beat RGS High Wycombe by a point to announce themselves to the top of the schools scene this season.
Wellington beat Whitgift well to complete an awesome few weeks from the 2013 School Sevens Champions, whilst Marlborough and Bryanston had further misery piled on them, Cheltenham beating Marlborough comfortably and Millfield using their game against Bryanston to demonstrate just how good they are this year, beating them 41-25.
The month was rounded off with Sherborne beating Prior Park 59-0 at the Rec in Bath â€“ a stunning performance.
The month was one of such quality and with so many good teams that selecting a Team of the Month was no easy task.
Woodhouse Grove had a particularly impressive month, however they had yet to face any of the really tough opponents in the region, whereas the likes of Sedbergh and Durham had both beaten some of the toughest teams around.
The same was true of Hampton in the South East, they were unbeaten but were they, in relative terms, also unchallenged?
The same could have been said of John Fisher but victory against RGS High Wycombe put them thoroughly in the mix. Solihull were also excellent, six wins from seven fixtures made them not only one of the best but also one of the busiest schools in the country.
Wellingtonâ€™s recovery from defeat against RGS High Wycombe to beating Dulwich, Marlborough and Whitgift consecutively was quite incredible, as was Millfieldâ€™s recovery from drawing with Warwick to beat RGS, Sir Gar and Bryanston.
Cliftonâ€™s four victories and average of 31 points a game was also hugely impressive, elevating them to the very top tier.
For us though it came down to a choice of four teams, Sedbergh, Solihull, Millfield and Wellington.
Selecting a team of the month is not just about results, it is about who those results are against â€“ an unbeaten month for instance is always impressive but it may not always be as impressive as victories against the best around plus one negative result.
Between the four it was incredibly tight, Solihullâ€™s sheer weight of numbers giving them an incredibly good argument, whilst Sedberghâ€™s huge points average offset their late start to the season.
Millfield and Wellington have both probably had tougher fixture schedules, each was beaten three of the (historically) top schools in country after first week wobbles.
It was a tough choice but for us Wellington have just edged it as the Team of the Month for September, the edge it not just because of their results and points scored, but also through their defence; to concede just six points against Whitgift and none at all versus Marlborough is hugely impressive.
Marlborough may not be the force they were last year but to have beaten them 41-0 was striking to say the least, whilst beating Dulwich and Whitgift either side of that was outstanding. Losing to RGS High Wycombe in the first week was a major factor for us considering others so strongly but it must be conceded that RGS are a fantastic outfit this season, despite stuttering results.
Congratulations Wellington, our September Team of the Month.
Team of the Month â€“ Wellington College
Shortlist â€“ Millfield, Sedbergh, Solihull, Wellington.
Honourable Mentions â€“ Clifton, Durham, Epsom, John Fisher, Woodhouse Grove.