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The Champions Trophy returns – 1st Round Preview

The Champions Trophy returns with a bang this week, with games on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

The tournament was only introduced last year, as a competitive option for one term rugby schools, and it proved to be a real hit, seeing big crowds, live streams, and some thrilling rugby.

It was eventually won by Millfield, who beat Grammar School at Leeds in the final at Allianz Park.

Millfield start their campaign away at Bryanston this year, at 15.15 on Tuesday. The champions and Bryanston are often among the very best in that region, so this should be a fascinating game, both supply the Bath academy, so their players know each other well.

That is one of eight games taking place on Tuesday, half of the total, with the tournament being limited to just 32 teams.

One of the names on that Tuesday list that many will be drawn to is Dulwich College. The winners of the NatWest Cup in 2013, ’13, and ’14, and last year’s finalists, have moved across to the Champions Trophy and face an away game at King’s Canterbury in their first fixture.

Likewise Stamford, who move from the Cup to the Trophy, they are away at Haileybury, and having had four highly successful seasons on the bounce, they will be a side to watch.

Epsom College were expected to be one of the real threats last year but then lost to Oakham, setting up that tremendous Millfield v Oakham game, they will look to make amends this year, beginning away at Eastbourne College.

Oakham meanwhile face a tricky first test away at Radley College. Another side to watch are Eton College, who have a tremendous group of Colts from last year now in the 1st XV. They begin at home to Cranbrook, against whom they will be looking to put on an eye-catching performance.

Tuesday also sees Blundell’s host Canford, in what should be an exciting encounter, while Cheltenham College v Uppingham also promises to hold plenty in store.

There are plenty of big hitters out on Wednesday too, perhaps none more so that Sedbergh, who join the Champions Trophy for the first time this year and will have realistic hopes of winning it. They start away at Bradford Grammar School in what should be a fierce start for them.

Their traditional rivals for Northern supremacy are Barnard Castle, andthey too are in the draw, away at Bishop Burton.

Keeping up the theme of Northern heavyweights are last year’s finalists, Grammar School at Leeds. They face arguably one of the top ties of the round as they travel to King’s Macclesfield, who like many others, move across from the NatWest Cup.

There is an almighty battle set to happen in the South East on Wednesday too, as Tonbridge, one of the star sides last time around and a traditional heavyweight, face St John’s Leatherhead, who are a side well equipped for competition this year. Looping around the M25, RGS Guildford and Eltham College also meet on Wednesday.

There is just one fixture on Thursday, but it should be a good one, Bristol Grammar School host Monmouth, another side to hop across from the NatWest Cup. Monmouth were one of the top sides last year, earning a nomination for the National Rugby Awards Team of the Year, and they will be hoping to impress on Thursday.

The first round looks as though it will be tailed with an exciting looking fixture between Marlborough College and Sherborne on Wednesday 23rd September, though Faringdon Community College v Bedford has yet to have a date confirmed.

Whichever way you look at it, the Champions Trophy only looks set to build on last year’s success this year. The calibre of teams entered and the quality of the fixtures, even at this early stage, suggest we are in for a brilliant few months of school rugby.

Who do you think will win the Champions Trophy this season? Let us know what you think via @FifteenRugbyXV, www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby or via promotions@fifteenrugby.com

Champions Trophy 1st Round Draw:

Eastbourne College v Epsom College – Tuesday, 14.30

Haileybury v Stamford – Tuesday, 14.30

Eton College v Cranbrook – Tuesday, 14.45

Radley College v Oakham – Tuesday, 15.00

Bryanston v Millfield – Tuesday, 15.15

Blundell’s v Canford – Tuesday, 16.00

King’s Canterbury v Dulwich College – Tuesday, 16.00

Cheltenham College v Uppingham – Tuesday, 15.00

Bishop Burton v Barnard Castle – Wednesday, 14.00

Bradford Grammar v Sedbergh – Wednesday, 14.30

King’s School Macclesfield v Grammar School at Leeds – Wednesday, 14.30

St. John’s Leatherhead v Tonbridge – Wednesday 14.45

RGS Guildford v Eltham College – Wednesday, 15.00

Bristol Grammar v Monmouth – Thursday, 15.00

Marlborough College v Sherborne – Wednesday 23rd

Faringdon Community College v Bedford – TBA

By Angus Savage

@AngusSavageXV

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