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Weekend Review: Issue 20 – Champions Trophy & NatWest Cup return

Next week sees the official start of the NatWest competitions, which now also includes the U18 Champions Trophy.

 

The Champions Trophy, now in its third season, has quickly become one of the real highlights of the school season, with each fixture seeming to prove both very high in quality, but also in drama, as Eton College’s early fixture at Dulwich College on Wednesday proved. The game was a hugely exciting and tense one, ending 17-17, with Eton progressing on try countback.

 

That sort of drama is almost routine in this competition, and it is hard to explain why, except that with such a quality set of teams, and a knockout format, the recipe is just right.

 

The Champions Trophy starts with the last 32 round, finishing on Wednesday 30th November at Allianz Park with the Final.

 

It is the top tier of the U18 NatWest structure. At both U18 and U15 level there have been other tweaks though. The Cup and Vase are now separate entities, with teams entering each before the season begins. Losers from the Cup first round now play in the Plate, with losers from the Vase first round now in the Bowl. Leaving a structure, in order of prestige, of:

 

U18

Tier 1 – Champions Trophy

Tier 2 – Cup

Tier 3 – Plate (Consists of Cup 1st round losers)

Tier 4 – Vase

Tier 5 – Bowl (Consists of Vase 1st round losers)

U15

Tier 1 – Cup

Tier 2 – Plate (Consists of Cup 1st round losers)

Tier 3 – Vase

Tier 4 – Bowl (Consists of Vase 1st round losers)

 

Next week will therefore see the opening round of the NatWest Cup, NatWest Vase, and Champions Trophy. With that in mind, we thought it best to bring you up to speed with what is happening, and when.

 

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Champions Trophy

 

The Champions Trophy has already seen two fixtures played, Monmouth beat Radley College 21-13 on Tuesday to progress to Round 2, while as mentioned Eton progressed against Dulwich on try count after their 17-17 draw.

 

Next week is when the meat of the first round takes place though, with eight further fixtures taking place.

 

Champions Trophy 1st Round Fixtures:

Bristol GS v Sherborne – Tuesday 27th September, 15.30

Canford v Marlborough College – Tuesday 27th September, 14.30

Cranbrook v St John’s Leatherhead – Wednesday 28th September, 14.30

Grammar School at Leeds v Uppingham – Tuesday 27th September, 15.00

Kingswood v Bryanston – Thursday 29th September, 14.30

Oakham v Berkhamsted – Tuesday 27th September, 15.00

St Paul’s v RGS Guildford – Saturday 1st October, 15.00

Tonbridge v Hampton – Wednesday 28th September, 16.00

Byes:

Bedford, Blundell’s, Clifton College, Epsom College, Millfield

Results:

Monmouth 21-13 Radley College

Dulwich College 17-17 Eton College (Eton through on try count)

 

The last two Champions, Bedford and Millfield, both have byes, as do losing finalists Epsom, semi finalists Blundell’s, and the excellent Clifton College. 2014 Finalists Grammar School at Leeds are at home to Uppingham.

 

The quality of the Champions Trophy can be seen in the quality of the fixtures even at this early stage, games such as Tonbridge v Hampton and Canford v Marlborough College are great fixtures. Oakham v Berkhamsted pits two potential dark horses together, St John’s Leatherhead too, yet they have a tough trip to Cranbrook.

 

Kingswood v Bryanston could be outstanding, so too Bristol Grammar v Sherborne, Sherborne lit up the tournament early on last year before injury struck. St Paul’s v RGS Guildford could also be another smashing game. That is the quality of the Champions Trophy.

 

NatWest Champions Trophy Round Dates:

 

Round 1 – Week Commencing 26th September

Round 2 – Week Commencing 10th October

Quarter Finals – Week Commencing 31st October

Semi Finals – Week Commencing 14th November

Final – Wednesday 30th November

 

NatWest Cup

 

U18 (For full draw please click here: U18 NatWest Cup)

 

The U18 Cup draw still looks very strong, even with the Champions Trophy dilution. Bromsgrove have won the tournament in the last two years, and they head up a midlands section that looks like the toughest of the lot.

 

They open their account in Midlands B against RGS Worcester, up there with the toughest of first round draws. Also in Midlands B are the likes of Adams’ Grammar, Bishop Vesey’s, Ellesmere College, Bloxham, as well as King’s Worcester and Solihull, who face each other in arguably the tie of the opening round.

 

Up in Midlands A the monstrous first round ties continues, with Leicester Grammar school v Warwick and Stowe v Bedford Modern particularly standing out. This section also includes Stamford, Oundle, Bishop’s Stortford College, and last year’s Vase winners, Northampton School for Boys. Whoever emerges from the two Midlands sections is going to be a very good side indeed.

 

North A is not easy either, with the likes of Wilmslow High, Bradford Grammar, RGS Lancaster, Stonyhurst, and St Ambrose College all a threat, Lymm High School v King’s Macclesfield looks like the game of the first round.

 

North B is seriously heavyweight, with RGS Newcastle, Barnard Castle, Woodhouse Grove, Mount St Mary’s, QEGS Wakefield, Ampleforth College, Hymers College, and St Peter’s York all involved, while Durham and Yarm meet each other too. A section to rival Midlands A.

 

London & South East A has a number of teams to keep an eye on, New Hall v St Joseph’s College could be an exciting early game. Whitgift face Caterham and Feslted face Brentwood, while if you want a side to keep an eye on, pay attention to Eltham College, where the mastermind of Dulwich College’s “back to back to back” streak, Sam Howard, is now Director of Rugby.

 

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Things in London & South East B ought to be exciting too, Wimbledon College and St Benedict’s produced some good games last year and meet early on this year, while the likes of KCS Wimbledon, John Fisher, and Trinity are all very capable of a long run, as always.

 

Oddly, the South West has appeared a little thin in recent years, there is decent strength this year though. South West B includes the likes of King’s College Taunton, Truro School, who have been very successful recently, Sir Thomas Rich’s, and a number of former champions, including St Peter’s Gloucester, RGS High Wycombe, and the most successful school in history, Colston’s, who face Bath affiliate, Weston College.

 

Over in South West A there is strength in the likes of Pangbourne College, Reigate Grammar School, and one side to keep an eye on, Bishop Wordsworth’s. Daunstey’s v Downside could be a game to watch.

 

U18 NatWest Schools Cup Round Dates:

 

Round 1 – Week Commencing 26th September

Round 2 – Week Commencing 10th October

Round 3 – Week Commencing 31st October

Round 4 – Week Commencing 14th November

Quarter Finals –Week Commencing 28th November

Semi Finals –Saturday 4th March

Final – Wednesday 29th March

 

U15 (For full draw please click here: U15 NatWest Cup)

 

Sedbergh won the U15 Cup last year, and they are drawn in the North A section this year, where they will face QES Kirkby Lonsdale. It is a tricky section, with Calday Grange, Wirral Grammar, Stonyhurst, Kirkham Grammar, Lymm High School, RGS Lancaster, Wilmslow High, and King’s Macclesfield just a few of the big names in with a shout.

 

North B is hardly less competitive, with Durham, Barnard Castle, RGS Newcastle, Ampleforth College, QEGS Wakefield, GSAL, Woodhouse Grove, and Bradford Grammar all in the draw. There is a reason why the U15 competition is often regarded as the best of the lot.

 

The theme goes on in Midlands A Warwick v Bloxham is huge, while Rugby, Solihull, Denstone College, Oakham, Cheltenham College, and King’s Worcester are a handful of the huge names in schools rugby that could get out of this section.

 

So too in Midlands B, and how about Oundle v Stamford for a first round tie? Look out too for St Joseph’s College, Felsted, Bedford, Stowe, Uppingham, and Berkhamsted. To name a few.

 

That quality does not let up as we move to London & South East A, St John’s Leatherhead play KCS Wimbledon, Whitgift face London Oratory, and Epsom College face St Paul’s in three massive clashes. Harrow, St Benedict’s, John Fisher, Hampton, and Reigate Grammar also lurk in this incredibly challenging section of the draw.

 

You might think that that would mean there are not too many big names left for London & South East B. You would be wrong, there are some huge games, Hurstpierpoint College v Sevenoaks, and Seaford College v Brighton College particularly. Trinity, Dulwich College, and Wimbledon College are among some of the others lurking.

 

South West A’s pick of the bunch is King’s College Taunton v Millfield, the winners are likely to have the likes of Blundell’s, Beechen Cliff, Sherborne, and Bryanston for company later on.

 

Last year’s runners up were Wellington College, they sit in South West B where the play Windsor Boys’ School. Also in the section are Marlborough College, RGS High Wycombe, Abingdon, St Peter’s Gloucester, Sir Thomas Rich’s Clifton College, and Colston’s, among others.

 

U15 NatWest Schools Cup Round Dates:

 

Round 1 – Week Commencing 26th September

Round 2 – Week Commencing 10th October

Round 3 – Week Commencing 14th November

Round 4 – Week Commencing 28th November

Round 5 – Week Commencing 16th January

Quarter Finals – Week Commencing 30th January

Semi Finals –Saturday/Sunday 18th/19th March

Final – Wednesday 29th March

 

NatWest Vase:

 

U18 (For full draw please click here: U18 NatWest Vase)

 

Naturally the U18 Vase is slightly lighter in terms of big name schools, but not in terms of competitiveness. There are some exciting looking teams in there too. North A sees both Wirral Grammar school and Rydal Penrhos either could go deep in this new format. North B has good quality too, with the likes of King’s Grantham, and Harrogate Grammar.

 

The Midlands have plenty to keep an eye on, Midlands A includes The Perse, The Leys, and St George’s Harpenden, among others. Given that St George’s produced Owen Farrell, George Ford, and Maro Itoje they ought to be exciting. Midlands B is equally decent, Bablake, Trent College, Hereford Cathedral School, King Edward’s Aston, and Old Swinford Hospital all have plenty of talent.

 

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Over in London & South East A look out for London Oratory, Gunnersbury, Gordon’s, and Brockenhurst, among others, while in London & South East B there is real depth, with St George’s College Weybridge, City of London Freemen’s, Worth, Sevenoaks, and St Olave’s in the mix.

 

South West A is a real chance for some schools to assert themselves, the likes of Wycliffe College, QEH, and Torquay Boys Grammar will all be among those relly pushing. South West B similarly, Cokethorpe, Dr Chaolloner’s, Reading Blue Coat, and perhaps the likes of Desborough College could all entertain.

 

U18 NatWest Schools Vase Round Dates:

 

Round 1 – Week Commencing 26th September

Round 2 – Week Commencing 10th October

Round 3 – Week Commencing 31st October

Round 4 – Week Commencing 14th November

Round 5 – Week Commencing 28th November

Quarter Finals – Week Commencing 6th February

Semi Finals – Saturday 4th March

Final –Wednesday 29th March

 

U15 Vase (For full draw please click here: U15 NatWest Vase)

 

The sheer depth of quality in the U15 Cup leaves the U15 Vase perhaps a little thin, but only a little. There is going to be plenty of excitement. For instance in North A we have he likes of King’s Priory, Bolton School, Rydal Penrhos, and Bishop Heber. North B with Pocklington, Ashville College, Silcoates, and Worksop College, has some of the biggest names on the circuit in the area.

 

In Midlands A Royal Latin play the notorious Chipping Norton, with King Edward VI Aston and Carre’s Grammar School among the sides to look out for. Midlands B includes the reigning champions, Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, as well as QES Barnet, and St George’s Harpenden.

 

To London & South East A where Worth, Gunnersbury, Mill Hill and Tiffin could grab a few headlines, as could Skinners’ Gravesend Grammar, and Dover Grammar in London & South East B.

 

In South West A Mount Kelly could be a force, as could West Buckland, Clevedon, and Frome College. South West B could see stars in the likes of Wycliffe College, Cabot Leatning Foundation, and Tewkesbury.

 

U15 NatWest Schools Vase Round Dates:

 

Round 1 – Week Commencing 26th September

Round 2 – Week Commencing 10th October

Round 3 – Week Commencing 14th November

Round 4 – Week Commencing 28th November

Round 5 – Week Commencing 16th January

Quarter Finals – Week Commencing 30th January

Semi Finals – Saturday/Sunday 18th/19th March

Final – Wednesday 29th March

 

NatWest Plate & Bowl Round Dates:

 

Round 1 – U18 & U15 – Week Commencing 10th October

Round 2 – U18 – Week Commencing 31st October

Round 2 – U15 – Week Commencing 14th November

Round 3 – U18 – Week Commencing 14th November

Round 3 – U15 – Week Commencing 28th November

Round 4 – U18 Bowl – Week Commencing 28th November

Quarter Finals – U18 Plate – Week Commencing 28th November

Round 4 – U15 – Week Commencing 16th January

Quarter Finals – U15 – Week Commencing 30th January

Quarter Finals – U18 Bowl – Week Commencing 6th February

Semi Finals – U18 – Saturday 4th March

Semi Finals – U15 – Saturday/Sunday 18th/19th March

Finals – U18 & U15 – Tuesday 28th March

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