The Champions Trophy got underway this week, and immediately took off where it left off last season, with some thrilling games of rugby.
For a tournament that is just a year old, it has already stolen its way into the hearts of school rugby and is a highly regarded tournament, perhaps the most highly regarded fifteen a side tournament.
The opening day saw the Champions, Millfield, in action. They were away at Bryanston and faced a tough battle. They came through though, winning 14-6 to make their way into the second round, which begins on the 28th September.
One of the most talked about teams in the tournament this year are Dulwich College, the 2012, â€™13, and â€™14 winners of the NatWest Cup have moved from that tournament to this, strengthening the feeling that this tournament is only getting bigger.
They were in action away at Kingâ€™s Canterbury and ran out comfortable 36-5 winners. It was a similar story for another favourite, Eton College, who eased to a 40-8 victory over Cranbrook at home. You can see our report from that game here Eton College v Cranbrook.
Fifteen Rugby were also are Haileybury v Stamford. Stamford, like Dulwich, have moved form the NatWest and were expected to be real challengers. However a strong Haileybury side put in a highly impressive performance to win 33-17 â€“ you can see that report here now: Haileybury v Stamford.
Cheltenham College have impressed early in the season, and were impressive again as they notched a 31-10 victory over an Uppingham side who, judged by scoreline at least, must have revitalised somewhat after Saturdayâ€™s tough defeat.
Blundellâ€™s grabbed a hard fought 19-11 victory over Canford to move into the next round, but unfortunately Eastbourne College v Epsom College was postponed.
It was Radley College who posted arguably the most impressive score of the day though, beating one of last year’s star sides, Oakham, by a highly impressive 50-7 margin to storm into the second round.
Day two saw last yearâ€™s finalists, Grammar School at Leeds, in action away at Kingâ€™s Macclesfield, who have moved across from the NatWest Cup. GSALâ€™s dream of going one stage further this year died at the first hurdle though as a rampant Kingâ€™s side soared to a stunning 52-5 victory.
It was that kind of day on Day 2 for many sides, as legendary school side Barnard Castle also started with a real bang, beating Bishop Burton, on Bishop Burton turf, by a staggering 47 points to 7. RGS Guildford were in equally impressive form as they put 45 points past Eltham College, conceding just three in return.
One of the big coups for the tournament this year is that they have persuaded Sedbergh to sign up. The famous Cumbrian school are expected to be among the favourites this year, but they were given a real shock by Bradford Grammar School, before eventually securing the victory and a place in the second round.
Bradford, who put eighty points on Hymers College at the weekend remember, were 15-0 up at the break but Sedbergh, being the sort of class outfit that they are, regrouped at the break and ran out 32-20 winners.
Perhaps the most stricking result of the whole day though came at the South West of London, where St Johnâ€™s Leatherhead secured what they have described as one of their â€˜best days in our rugby historyâ€™ with a 17-13 victory over Tonbridge in torrid conditions. It was a hard fought battle of a win, but that is what this tournament has already become synonymous with, gutsy wins in fiercely competitive and physical games.
No wonder it is so popular.
Monmouth, another side to move accross to from the NatWest Cup, were the final side to seal their place in the second round this week. They beat a good Bristol Grammar School side 32-7, suggesting that once again they will be a side to keep an eye on as the tournament progresses.
Coming up, the opening round action continues with Faringdon v Bedford still to be arranged, and Marlboroguh College v Sherborne taking place on the 23rd September.
Who do you see winning the Champions Trophy this year? Let us know what you think via @FifteenRugbyXV, www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby or via firstname.lastname@example.org – you can also comment at the foot of this article.
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Champions Trophy Round 1:
Haileybury 33-17 Stamford
Eastbourne College v Epsom College – Postponed
Eton College 40-8 Cranbrook
Cheltenham College 31-10 Uppingham
Radley College 50-7 Oakham
Bryanston 6-14 Millfield
Blundellâ€™s 19-11 Canford
Kingâ€™s Canterbury 5-36 Dulwich College
Bishop Burton 7-47 Barnard Castle
Bradford Grammar 20-32 Sedbergh
Kingâ€™s School Macclesfield 52-5 Grammar School at Leeds
St. Johnâ€™s Leatherhead 17-13 Tonbridge
RGS Guildford 45-3 Eltham College
Bristol Grammar 7-32 Monmouth â€“ Thursday, 15.00
Marlborough College v Sherborne â€“ Wednesday 23rd
Faringdon Community College v Bedford â€“ TBA
By Angus Savage