From the Archives – Uppingham v Oakham, a bitter rivalry

Last year we took a look in detail at the Oakham v Uppingham fixture ahead of the big Rutland derby. This year we delve into the archives to bring you that review again.

Oakham were looking for their third win in a row, which they achieved through a 9-8 victory.

Here is that archive piece:

“Oakham against Uppingham is a rivalry that goes back further than many would imagine, making it one of the oldest and most intriguing fixtures on the calendar.


It began with a shared founder, Archdecaon Johnson, a shared school crest and a shared county. Both Oakham and Uppingham are located in Rutland, England’s smallest county, and they are less than five miles apart.


It makes for an intense and yet special rivalry, pupils from both schools are often close friends, socialising in and out of term time with one another, come match week though and they become nothing short of enemies.


It has been a fixture that has been dominated by Oakham in recent times though, since the 1999/2000 season Oakham have won this fixture nine times in a period that has seen them reach the Daily Mail Cup final 3 times, winning it twice.


Uppingham have won it four times, most recently in the 2009/2010 season and will be look to avoid three defeats in a row as happened from 2001-2003 and 2005-2007. Those were special periods for Oakham though; they were the Croft, Smith and Goode eras.


That is the special thing about this fixture, so often it pits special talents against each other. In that period since 1999/2000 this fixture has seen three England internationals, Tom Croft, Alex Goode and Dan Hipkiss, a Scotland international, Tom Ryder, and one of Leicester Tigers’ brightest stars, Matt Smith.


It is that sort of quality along with the proximity of the schools and the friendships between them that makes this so special. It really means something to the players, even the top ones. Speak to Alex Goode and he will tell you that his away win at Uppingham in the 2005/6 season was one of the most special of his career.


Such was the rivalry that he and some others in the 1st XV drove back over to Uppingham to embed the score onto the pitch with their tyres, 31-10 written deep into the Uppingham turf; it means something.


So to this year, both sides suffered some poor form in the opening half of term, struggling to gel properly and losing fixtures they ought to have won, it was a sorry period for these two proud schools.


Since half term though they have both shown a remarkable rise in form, inspired by their two captain’s Ruaraidh Smith of Oakham and Joss Linney of Uppingham, who are both, coincidentally, full backs, though Linney starts on the wing tomorrow.


It bodes well for an exciting game, with home advantage and slightly better form on average than Uppingham, Oakham will be the narrow favourites but Uppingham are a well-drilled side with rising confidence and will not simply roll over.


As ever in such intense games, and particularly given the weather conditions, the game will be fought out up front where dominance at the set piece and breakdown will determine the momentum of the game. It then becomes a case of the backs creating whatever they can from a minimum of ball.


Perhaps it may even come down to which captain conjures that little bit of magic. Either way, it will be worth coming down to watch, you never know, you might just get to witness the next Goode, Hipkiss, Croft or Ryder.”


This year looks like being an equally close encounter; both have enjoyed very similar seasons. In our weekend preview we have predicted a narrow Oakham victory, however the nature of this fixture makes it nearly impossible to predict.

Who do you see winning it this year? Will Uppingham take advantage of home advantage or will Oakham break Uppingham hearts once again and make it four in a row?

Let us know what you think via @FifteenRugbyXV or via the comment box below.

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