February is always a great month for schools rugby, the school 7s begins, the NatWest Cup really starts to kick into gear, U18 and U20 internationals start up, the ISRFC Lambs season gets underway, and plenty else too.
It makes for a busy and exciting month and this year, unlike last, the weather has largely held up, allowing games and tournaments that have fallen foul of the weather previously to go ahead this time. This rise of artificial surfaces has played a big part in that too â€“ any critics of the surface ought to see the devastation to the school sports calendars that has been done in recent years due to frozen/waterlogged grass pitches.
Team of the Month Cup Contenders
The NatWest Cup moves into the semi final stage next weekend, but the quarter final stage has been a thriller, with all four teams that have progressed to the semi finals being in with a shout for this Team of the Month award despite all bar Bromsgrove only playing once.
Dulwich College produced a brilliant comeback to beat an outstanding Hampton 8-7, thanks to a late Jonny Waugh drop goal, their chances of a 4thÂ title in a row are looking as good as they could have hoped.
Wilmslow High School are their semi final opponents, their quarter final against St Josephâ€™s was certainly enough to put them in the Team of the Month mix, a thrilling 25-25 draw that saw them progress on try countback â€“ stunning stuff.
Oundle reached the semis after a thrilling victory over Lymm High School. A truly outstanding first half saw them build an insurmountable lead, despite a brilliant second half comeback from Lymm. Oundleâ€™s passionate crowd is definitely one of the highlights of an excellent Cup season this year.
Bromsgrove are certainly in the Team of the Month mix, having beaten Dauntseyâ€™s convincingly in the quarter final, but also the unbeaten Stamford in the last 16, a truly outstanding achievement.
The 7s season is always a thrilling time, and this year looks set to be no different. Wellington College, with their exceptional backline, were billed throughout the fifteen-a-side season as the likely pace-setters in the 7s season, and so it has proved.
They have won everything they have entered in February, winning the Shiplake 7s, and the South Coast 7s. Even more impressive though is the fact that they have utterly dominated both competitions, leaving nobody in any doubt as to their quality. As if that was not enough, they also had three players in the first England U18 matchday squad of the season, which they won against France last week, with Connor Dolan and Sam Aspland-Robinson starting, and Rory Brand on the bench, a stunning achievement.
Millfield were last yearâ€™s 7s pace-setters, winning everything they entered, and have not been far short of that this year. They won their own tournament back at the start of the month, and followed that up by winning the notoriously challenging Christ College Brecon Invitational 7s. Their only blip came at the South Coast 7s, where the bulk of the side was away with their academy sides in the U18 Premiership, nevertheless despite an early Cup exit, they did win the Bowl.
Elsewhere Sedbergh have been their usual selves in the North, picking up the Ampleforth College 7s, and once again looking like they will be a big threat national when Rosslyn Park comes around. Pangbourne picked up the Reedâ€™s 7s, while John Fisher, who reached last yearâ€™s Rosslyn Park final and then beat Millfield at Twickenham, picked up the Hampton 7s trophy on Wednesday.
Team of the Month
For us there were three main contenders, Bromsgrove, Millfield, and Wellington College.
Bromsgroveâ€™s achievement in beating the unbeaten Stamford was highly impressive, tempered only by a big Stamford injury crisis, while they were dominant against Dauntseyâ€™s, proving that they really are capable of winning this competition â€“ as anyone who saw them beat the likes of Millfield earlier in the season will know.
Millfield have picked up where they left off last 7s season, winning trophies. Two out of three is an excellent record, and their South Coast 7s disappointment is certainly mitigated by the sheer number of absentees.
Wellington College though have been unstoppable, two tournaments out of two, and done so in such dominant style. They have used the full depth of their squad and always look threatening. It is going to take a good side to beat them, and when we move to the later tournaments like the Surrey 7s and Rosslyn Park, they are definitely going to be very much in the hunt.
Our Fifteen Rugby Team of the Month for February is Wellington College.
It is not just the trophies but the dominance that has gone with it, while the achievement in having so many players in that England U18 side cannot be overlooked either, this is a classy side that is set to keep on winning things this season.
Do you agree with our Team of the Month? Let us know viaÂ @FifteenRugbyXVÂ or via the comment box below.