This weekend sees the final pre-season preparations take place for most schools, with a host of tournaments taking place, including competitions at Sedbergh, Esher RFC, Tynedale RFC, Kingâ€™s Macclesfield, and Colstonâ€™s.
While by no means true indicators of form, these are a useful opportunity to catch some of the likely contenders for the season in action, though with many young players involved in academy EPDG sessions, there are likely to be more than a few stars missing.
Sedberghâ€™s competition looks set to be a huge final test ahead of the season, with well known Scottish side Loretto joining the AASE duo of Myerscough College and Gosforth Academy in taking on Sedbergh. These are among four of the strongest sides in the UK.
Over in Northumbria, Tynedale RFC host their annual pre-season festival, albeit a shortened one due to the staggered nature of the return to school for many this year.
Durham, Merchiston Castle, RGS Newcastle, Berkhamsted, and St Paulâ€™s will compete in a straight league competition this year for the title, and much like Sedberghâ€™s competition, this looks likely to be a high class affair.
The greatest school in NatWest Cup history, or Daily Mail Cup as it was then, Colstonâ€™s, are also hosting a tournament. They will welcome Kingâ€™s College Taunton, Pateâ€™s Grammar School, and St Peterâ€™s Gloucester to town for a quick hit out ahead of the heavy stuff beginning next week. All four have had their moments in the sun in recent years, each will be hoping to again this year.
Kingâ€™s Macclesfield host a top class competition, they welcome Solihull, Manchester Grammar School, Bristol Grammar School, the promising Denstone College, and schoolboy heavyweights St Josephâ€™s College for what promises to be a top class competition.
Perhaps the most prestigious competition of all will be the Esher Presidentâ€™s Cup, which will see six of the top London sides compete.
Hampton are looking to defend their title, and to continue their great recent work under Director of Rugby Zoran Higgins, who moves to Oakham.
Their challenge is a stiff one though, Hampton will compete against Dulwich College, who return to the tournament after a long absence, John Fisher, newcomers Trinity, Skinnersâ€™, and five time winners Whitgift.
Picking a winner will be no easy task, as with all of this weekendâ€™s tournaments, however one thing is for certain. The quality of schools and players on show is high.
Perhaps nowhere so high as on Wellington Collegeâ€™s bigside pitch, where they host Brighton College for what is a heavyweight pre-season clash.
The waiting is almost over, this weekendâ€™s clashes will be full-blooded, and then itâ€™s onto the big stuff, starting with RGS High Wycombe v Solihull on Tuesday.
Bank Holiday Weekend Pre-Season Tournaments:
Esher Presidentâ€™s Cup:
Sedbergh Pre-Season Festival:
Kingâ€™s Macclesfield Festival:
Colstonâ€™s Pre-Season Festival:
Kingâ€™s College Taunton
Pateâ€™s Grammar School
St Peterâ€™s Gloucester
Brighton College v Wellington College