The opening weekend of the Schools Rugby season features some absolutely outstanding fixtures and if it is anything like last year then it should produce some brilliant storylines too.
We picked out five fixtures that we thought looked particularly exciting, with a gentle nod of appreciation to other top games such as Tonbridge v Epsom College and Oundle v Bedford, for our Daily Mail trophy Prediction Competition, which you can enter here: Predict 5 winners to win a T-Shirt.
One of those five fixtures in Whitgift v Sedbergh, a true titanic tussle between two of the top teams in the country, both in recent years and historically. Last year Whitgift boasted the likes of Henry Cheeseman and Stan South in their side, while Sedbergh featured captain James Christie and flying winger Rob Stevenson.
Going further back, Whitgift is where players such as Marland Yarde, Elliot Daly, and Danny Cipriani learned their trade, while Sedbergh have produced stellar names such as Will Carling, Will Greenwood, and the recently retired James Simpson-Daniel.
So tomorrow morningâ€™s 11am kick off is definitely a great chance to see two top teams, and potentially some star names of the future. Sedbergh have some top players in James Orrit, Johnny McPhillips, and captain Freddie Renwick among others, while Whitgift too have some great talents in their line up. Full back Matt Gallagherâ€™s tussle with opposite number McPhillips will be fascinating, while regular readers of Fifteen Rugby might well recognise scrum half and captain Alex Patton, whom we featured in our â€˜Ones to Watchâ€™ section back in 2012.
The two sides have met twice in the last three years, both up in Sedbergh in 2013 and 2011, with the 2012 meeting in Whitgift cancelled due to a mumps outbreak. Sedbergh won both of those games, winning last yearâ€™s encounter 38-20 in a season that included just one defeat on British soil, to Wellington who play in another mighty clash against RGS High Wycombe tomorrow.
Whitgift by contrast had an up and down season. They posted a very high number of victories, including one startling 78-0 victory, however against the very best they just fell short â€“ though often by the smallest of margins. They will be desperate to put that right tomorrow morning and to start their season off with a bang.
That is the challenge for both sides tomorrow. This represents one of the toughest possible starts to the season for both sides and therefore a victory would kick their season off with a huge amount of momentum, potentially propelling them on to great things even by their own lofty standards.
In our Schools Rugby Weekend Preview we predicted a Sedbergh win but with no real form guide to work with, that is really just a reflection on last year. The truth is that this is set to be a fascinating game and could really set the tone for the season.
Bring on tomorrow morning!
Who do you think will win tomorrow, and which players should everyone be looking out for? Let us know your thoughts via @FifteenRugbyXV or leave a comment below.
1. PetersonÂ 2. SolmanÂ 3. OrritÂ 4. DaviesÂ 5. Moon (vc)Â 6. Renwick (c)Â 7. BothamÂ 8. Phillips;Â 9. AddisonÂ 10. CrosdaleÂ 11. BrownÂ 12. MoorbyÂ 13. WymanÂ 14. HalsallÂ 15. McPhillips (vc).
1. YoungÂ 2. Bontea-UngureanuÂ 3. BodkinÂ 4. JaianiÂ 5. KuleniczÂ 6. KerneisÂ 7. HollandÂ 8. Reid;Â 9. Patton (c)Â 10. MorleyÂ 11. DonohoeÂ 12. HoggÂ 13. BellaminÂ 14. PearsonÂ 15. Gallagher (vc).
Replacements: Geldenhuys, Â Beri, Â Wilson, Â White-Pettigrew, Â Hutton.
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