Opening weekend set to be a blinder – Schools Rugby Weekend Preview

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Coach Logic

Finally, the first weekend of the 2014/15 Schools Rugby season is almost upon us, and what a brilliant weekend it looks set to be!

The season began in midweek with a few results trickling through Sir Thomas Rich’s started where they left off last season, looking impressive with a 32-17 win over Bridgend College, while King’s Worcester beat KES Five Ways 36-0 to begin their season with a bang.

We also had the first Daily Mail Trophy fixture of the season, between Caterham and KCS Wimbledon. Fifteen Rugby were at the game, you can see our report here – Caterham v KCS, and it was a brilliant example of early season rugby with plenty of sunshine, running rugby, and committed defence as KCS ran out 20-7 winners.

Prediction Competition Fixtures

As ever with our Weekend Preview, we stick with the Daily Mail Trophy for our opening section, looking at the five fixtures that make up this week’s predictions competition – which you can enter here: Prediction Competition.

Barnard Castle v Durham.

Last year Durham went all the way to the NatWest Cup semi finals, while Barnard Castle were struggling a little to recapture the glory of yesteryear.

However Durham had a rather disappointing Tynedale Festival, though they were missing their Academy men, and must fill the void left by last year’s inspirational captain, Ruari Bell.

Barnard Castle have had plenty of famous names popping in over the pre season period so they will be hoping that some of their knowledge has seeped through and inspired them.

It ought to be a good game but we would predict a Durham win.

Millfield v Warwick

Last year Warwick shocked Millfield on the opening day of the season, holding the famous Somerset school to a 17-17 draw. Both then went on to have successful seasons, Warwick reaching the NatWest Cup final and Millfield winning every 7s tournament that they entered.

Warwick’s team was young last year and they have had a couple of top teams in the Colts in recent year’s too so there is plenty expected of them this year, while Millfield always have high expectations. They have retained some key players in the likes of Adam Hastings, Freddie Davidson, and Josh Bailey and having slipped up in this fixture last year they will be giving everything to put that right this year.

It should be another good game but we predict a Millfield win.

RGS High Wycombe v Wellington College

How does anyone go about predicting this one, these two sides were right at the top of the pile last year and will be there again this year. RGS reached the NatWest Cup semi finals, where only a Dulwich College defensive performance of epic proportions denied them a spot in the final, while Wellington finished fourth in the Daily Mail Trophy.

In the corresponding fixture last year RGS announced their intentions for the year with an opening day 10-8 defeat of Wellington on their own patch, Wellington will be determined to return that favour this year at RGS, and with some brilliant L6th prospects coming through, as well as a core of last year’s players like Will Wilson, Sam Aspland-Robinson, and Conor Dolan, all ready to take up leadership roles, they are a going to be a tough nut to crack.

Not an easy one to call but a Wellington College win is what we’re going for.

Stamford v Stowe

Yet another tricky fixture to call, Stowe won the Tynedale Festival last weekend and impressed everyone watching. With the likes of Rotimi Segun in his last year, they are going to be a very tough side to stop in 2014/15.

In theory that ought to put Stowe in the drivers seat but they were in the same position last year and lost 31-12 on home turf to Stamford. This year they have to travel to Stamford , where the home side are undefeated in three seasons. It is a truly remarkable effort, all the more so given the quality of the Stamford fixture list, though the longer the roll goes on the more pressure there is to maintain it.

That said, with home advantage and no form to judge by, we have to predict a Stamford win.

Whitgift v Sedbergh

A mouthwatering fixture. Two more giants of the school game meeting on the opening weekend of the season, and two more who will want to step up a further notch this year.

Sedbergh finished second in last year’s Daily Mail Trophy but will want to go one better this year, while Whitgift had a slightly below par season, by their lofty standards, they had a good win ratio but just wobbled against the very top sides.

Sedbergh won this fixture 38-20 last year but this year it is they who must make the gruelling journey before the game, which will undoubtedly have an effect. That said they are probably just favourites, Whitigft have lost some really key players, not least Henry Cheeseman and Stan South, and did not have a great showing at the President’s Cup last weekend, while Sedbergh appear to be looking as good as ever, at least on paper.

It is going to be a huge game though and either side could win but we predict a Sedbergh win.

Key Fixtures

Outside of those five Prediction Competition fixtures, there are still hundreds of other fixtures that will capture the imagination, here are four that we have chosen to take a little look at:

Cheltenham College v Rugby

Both had very good teams last year but were just shy of the highest level, they will be looking to step a rung higher this but must deal with their loss of their respective England U18 internationals, Ollie Thorley and Harry Mallinder.

Games between the two are often very good though and this is the oldest inter-schools fixture in the book so there is always plenty of spice. Cheltenham are probably just favourites for this so we predict a Cheltenham win.

Grammar School at Leeds v St Peter’s York

GSAL should be the dominant side here, although St Peter’s are a pretty handy outfit themselves, however having proven themselves to be a very good side last year, and with a strong L6th coming through this, GSAL are under pressure to prove that pre season expectations of them are correct.

That means a big performance on Saturday is required and St Peter’s will certainly make that far from an easy prospect. It should be fascinating.

Prediction, GSAL win.

Cranleigh v Brighton College

Two excellent sides who have lost some top players at the senior end but gain some more quality at the junior end. It is often tough to separate these two and will be again on Saturday, however after a pretty decent pre season Brighton College are probably just the favourites.

Home advantage and a big early season crowd might well give Cranleigh that little bit extra though and it won’t take a lot extra to be enough for a win. We would just go for a Brighton win though.

Tonbridge v Epsom College

This ought to be an absolute belter. Epsom College were in the eyes of many, the best team in the country last year. They were unbeaten and Brighton College were the only team to avoid defeat to them, holding them to a creditable draw.

Tonbridge were not too shabby either though and this year they are going to be a force to be reckoned with, with England U16 captain ben earl set to play a big role for the team.

Saturday should therefore be very interesting but without any form to judge by, last season’s exploits make an Epsom College win our prediction.

It certainly looks like it is going to be one of the very best opening weekend’s to the season for many years. Aside from the nine fixtures that we have looked at, there are still plenty of other hugely competitive and exciting fixtures to come.

It ought to be a brilliant weekend.

What do you think of our predictions? Let us know yours via the comment box below or via @FifteenRugbyXV – Enjoy the weekend!

 

1st XV Fixtures 06/09/14 (Predictions in bold):

Daily Mail Trophy Prediction Competition Fixtures:

Barnard Castle v Durham

Millfield v Warwick

RGS High Wycombe v Wellington College

Stamford v Stowe

Whitgift v Sedbergh

Key Fixtures:

Cheltenham College v Rugby

Cranleigh v Brighton College (DMT)

Grammar School at Leeds v St Peter’s, York (DMT)

Tonbridge v Epsom College (DMT)

Other Fixtures:

Berkhamsted v St Albans

Bradford GS v Ampleforth College (DMT)

Bristol GS v KES Bath

Campion v Dulwich College

Canford v Portsmouth GS (DMT)

Caterham v King’s Canterbury

Clifton College v Pate’s GS (DMT)

Colston’s v Prior Park

Denstone College v Bromsgrove (DMT)

Eastbourne College v Cranbrook

Ellesmere College v Kirkham GS (DMT)

Glyn v Reed’s (DMT)

Haileybury v St Paul’s

Hampton v Judd

Harrow v Bedford Modern

Hymers College v Yarm (DMT)

John Fisher v Hurstpierpoint (DMT)

Loughborough GS v Oakham (DMT)

Malvern College v Magdalen College (DMT)

Marlborough College v Monmouth (DMT)

Merchant Taylors’ v Wilmslow High School

New Hall v St Joseph’s College

Nottingham HS v King’s Grantham

Old Swinford Hospital v Solihull (DMT)

Oundle v Bedford (DMT)

QEGS Wakefield v King’s Macclesfield (DMT)

RGS Lancaster v Crossley Heath (DMT)

RGS Newcastle v George Watson’s

RGS Worcester v KES Birmingham (DMT)

Sevenoaks v Christ’s Hospital

Sherborne v Blundell’s

Skinners’ v KCS Wimbledon (DMT)

St Ambrose College v Manchester GS (DMT)

St Edward’s, Oxford v Abingdon (DMT)

St John’s Leatherhead v Pangbourne College

Trent College v King’s Worcester (DMT)

Uppingham v The Perse

Wimbledon College v RGS Guildford (DMT)

Wolverhampton GS v Ratcliffe College

Pre Season Competition:

Woodhouse Grove/Stockport GS/Sandbach/Altrincham GS

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