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St Joseph’s Festival Preview – Group A

For many the St Joseph’s Festival is considered the most difficult tournament to win at schoolboy level, such is challenge of having to play so many matches in a row with so little time in each match to secure a result.

Throw into that the tremendous quality of each of the teams that are invited and you are left with quite a competition.

In the first of a four part preview, we take a look at the four sides in Group A and consider who we think will progress to the Trophy Competition and who will find themselves in the Plate Competition.

St Joseph’s Festival 2013 Group A

Old Swinford Hospital

RGS High Wycombe

St Joseph’s College

Whitchurch High School

St Joseph’s

St Joseph’s, the hosts, have looked very good this season and have been playing with a real sense of freedom, as their Festival preview hints: “With the returning head coach Peter Engledow installing his Southern Hemisphere style onto a squad of talented players”.

It makes perfect sense given the outstanding talent that they have in the backline; the worry will be that given the wet weather forecast this could be a difficult style to keep up.

There have been questions about whether the opposition they had faced was of the same standard as they will face this weekend but a victory over Bedford Academy rather alleviated that fear. They will be expecting to qualify and will have hopes of a sniff at the trophy.

Verdict – Trophy

Old Swinford Hospital

Old Swinford Hospital have not quite hit the heights of their 2011/12 Daily Mail Cup Finalists in the last season and a half but they certainly have not become a bad side.

They had strong representation in the Aviva Premiership U18 League last year and have some outstanding players in their ranks, particularly in the forwards – an area of the field that will be particularly important this weekend.

There have been mixed results for them this season but holding Solihull to a close game is perhaps the most significant given how dominant Solihull have been at times this season. They could easily get the two wins that they need to qualify here but it will be a challenge.

Verdict – Plate

RGS High Wycombe

The great enigma’s of the 2013/14 season. RGS started with a bang by beating Wellington, who have since gone on to dominate the school scene this year, and to be honest it was no surprise – a lot was predicted of this side.

Since then they have been rather more inconsistent than they would like though, losing three of their next four games. However the strength of their fixture list must be taken into account, losses to Millfield, Hampton and John Fisher are hardly something to be criticised and with Millfield and John Fisher at St Jo’s this weekend there will be even more to play for for RGS.

They won the plate last year but nothing less than competing for the main prize will do for them this year, and we expect them to be right up there.

Verdict – Trophy

Whitchurch High School

Whitchurch are a little bit of an unknown quantity given that they are from Wales and therefore a little off our radar, however as the school that produced a certain Mr Warburton it is clear that they are not to be taken lightly.

A slightly less historical reference though is to look at how they fared in the tournament last year. Victories against Millfield & Bedford show that they are a side with serious talent, and they were incredibly unfortunate to find themselves in the Plate tournament.

We are expecting them to be similarly competitive this time around, however in such a competitive group they may just miss out on qualification.

Verdict – Plate

For our other previews, please follow these links:

Group B

Group C

Group D

Tournament Overview

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