November has been a pretty spectacular month of schoolboy rugby with the NatWest Cup really starting to fire and the traditional school season starting to reach its climax.
It has been a spectacular term of school rugby but this award focuses purely on the month of November, our December award (announced at the start of January) will be for the team of the entire term.
There has been a huge number of impressive teams this month, and it has been by far the busiest month of the term, therefore even narrowing the sides down to a shortlist has been c challenge, never mind actually picking a winner.
However, we did eventually narrow down our list to a choice of nine schools with some help from our Twitter followers. Perhaps not a shortlist, but certainly a shorter list than we began with. Those schools are:
Woodhouse Grove Â – Played 6 Won 5 Lost 1. Beat Yarm, GSAL, Kirkham GS, Durham, and RGS Lancaster. Lost to Merchant Taylorâ€™s in the NatWest Cup.
Campion â€“ Played 6 Won 5 Lost 1. Beat Bishopâ€™s Stortford High School, Hampton, and Judd. Lost to St Benedictâ€™s. Beat Seevic and St Josephâ€™s in the Cup.
Epsom College â€“ Played 3 Won 2 Drew 1. Beat Wellington and St Johnâ€™s. Drew with Brighton.
Millfield â€“ Played 7 Won 6 Lost 1. Beat Portsmouth GS, Llandovery College, Filton, Blundellâ€™s, Whitgift, and Monmouth. Lost to Greyâ€™s HS, South Africa.
Sedbergh â€“ Played 5 Won 4 Lost 1. Beat RGS Lancaster, Kirkham GS, Warwick, and Barnard Castle. Lost to Wellington.
Dulwich â€“ Played 6 Won 5 Lost 1. Beat John Fisher, Hampton, and Tonbridge. Lost to Whitgift. Beat Eltham and Felsted in the NatWest Cup.
The Perse â€“ Played 4 Won 4. Beat Norwich and Bishopâ€™s Stortford College. Beat Northampton School for Boyâ€™s (2012 finalists) and Oakham (34-14) in the Cup.
Stamford â€“ Played 7 Won 7. Beat Trent, Rugby, St Albanâ€™s, Oakham, and Worksop. Beat Spalding and Uppingham in the NatWest Cup.
RGS High Wycombe â€“ Played 6 Won 6. Beat Whitgift, Bryanston, Aylesbury GS, and St Benedictâ€™s. Beat Windsor Boysâ€™ and Reading Blue Coat in the NatWest Cup.
Stonyhurst and Hampton also cam very close but in a month as strong as this they just missed out on the list.
Selecting a winner from that group of nine is no easy task, it is not simply a matter of choosing who has won the most games or beaten the most good sides but a blend of how good their record is, how well they have played, who they have beaten, how well they have fared relative to our expectations of them, and results against sides of a similar standard to them.
In terms of punching above their weight The Perse and Campion stand out, both have had extraordinary Cup results, with The Perse beating Northampton School for Boys and section favourites Oakham, while Campion sent one of the favourites, St Josephâ€™s College, crashing out, while also beating Hampton outside the cup.
From an achievement point of view Woodhouse Grove securing the Daily Mail Trophy two weeks before its final round stands out by a mile, while in terms of pure results RGS High Wycombe and Stamfordâ€™s clean sweeps are the obvious standouts.
If quality of the opposition beaten is to be the yardstick then Millfield stand alone, defeating Llandovery College and Filton College within four days was quite outstanding, not to mention their other opposition. Epsom might only have played a handful of games but in beating Wellington they showed their quality, as Sedbergh would testify beating Wellington is a serious achievement. They are the one side that prevented Sedbergh from the perfect month.
Again looking at results against similar opposition Dulwich have been outstanding, a loaded fixture list has seen them beat everyone bar Whitgift, and they are beginning to look like one of the form sides in the country.
RGS High Wycombe and Stamfordâ€™s results really stand out and deserve more recognition that they have perhaps received. Both have been outstanding all season, and Stamfordâ€™s home record is simply sensational.
However after much debate we narrowed our decision to a choice of three: Campion, Millfield, and Woodhouse Grove.
Campionâ€™s victory over St Josephâ€™s in the NatWest Cup was utterly sensational, and for a small school to produce a performance like that was a true sign of the spirit and determination of the team. Beating Hampton was equally impressive, regardless of a weakened side from Hampton.
The standard, and relentless intensity, of the opposition that Millfield have faced has been quite extraordinary. They might have lost to Greyâ€™s High School but losing by just a couple of points to one of the top school teams in South Africa, a country famed for its school rugby, is still an outstanding achievement. Just look at Greyâ€™s other results on tour.
To have beaten the likes of Llandovery, Filton, and Whitgift is outstanding, and in many of their other games they have made changes and yet still won comfortably. Their match against Sedbergh on Wednesday promises to be one of the games of the season.
Woodhouse Grove have been extraordinary all season and November was their crowning glory as they sealed the Daily Mail Trophy. The only blot of their copybook was that shock loss in the NatWest Cup. Some have questioned their fixture list but a thumping victory against Durham a couple of weeks ago really proved their quality.
Team of the Month
We can debate and debate as much as we like but ultimately the Team of the Month can only be awarded to one Team.
Many of this extraordinary list of candidates will surely feature in our Team of the Term debate, but as far as November goes Millfield are our Team of the Month.
The standard of opposition that they have faced, the back-to-back fixtures, and the depth of players they have used has been phenomenal. Even their one defeat is was pretty outstanding performance. Their commitment to exciting rugby, even in poor conditions, is thrilling and their ability to execute that brand of rugby is outstanding.
Campion pushed them close, they might not have performed to the same level but they have punched well above their weight and have beaten some truly excellent sides. Watching their Cup game against St Josephâ€™s was a joy.
It is quite extraordinary that Woodhouse Grove are yet to win a Team of the Month award this season, they have only lost once, in that cup game against Merchant Taylors. They came within a whisker this month however despite winning the Daily Mail Trophy and having that outstanding result against Durham that shock defeat just counted against them for the monthly award. They will most certainly feature in the Team of the Term mix though.
Congratulations then to Millfield, our November Team of the Month.
Do you agree with our decision? How have you rated Millfield this month? Perhaps you think Campion or Woodhouse Grove deserve the award, or that RGS High Wycombeâ€™s results and opposition deserve greater credit. Is there anyone outside of our shortlist that you would have liked to see included?
Let us know via the comment box below or on Twitter (@FifteenRugbyXV)