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Schools Rugby Weekend Preview & Predictions – Games that could define season ahead

It is a packed weekend of schools rugby action as we move into October, and the warm weather and dry pitches will inevitably start to move towards the wetter thicker stuff.

 

There are some very tasty looking fixtures indeed, and that is where we start this week’s preview. Unfortunately this week there is no prediction competition, but the usual ten fixtures will still be looked at.

5 Key Previews

 

Dulwich College v Brighton College

Always a good game of rugby this, and this one should be no different. Brighton should arrive full of confidence after a tight win over St John’s last week, Dulwich meanwhile will host this off the back of a loss to Millfield in midweek in the Champions Trophy.

However the manner of that defeat, and the fightback, particularly with an injury crisis like the one they have, ought to give them great confidence ahead of this game, as should the fact that they have beaten Wellington College this season.

Expect a well fought contest between to excellent rugby schools.

Prediction – Dulwich College

 

Oundle v Stowe

This game fascinates us. Oundle are undoubtedly a very good side but the strength of their fixture list has seen them lose more games than they would probably like so far this season.

Stowe will not be any easier as a challenge, and have got themselves off to a fine start this season. How this one turns out will largely been down to who reaches their potential the most on Saturday as they appear to both be very evenly matched. On that score, with home advantage, you may just favour Oundle.

Prediction – Oundle

 

St Peter’s York v QEGS Wakefield

Ordinarily we would have this down as a QEGS Wakefield win. They are traditionally a very strong side and they have a 1st XV that is made up of U15 NatWest Cup finalists, that all suggest strength – and strength they have, the start of their season has been excellent.

However so too has been St Peter’s. In fact, they have perhaps been the biggest surprise package of the season, some of their victories have been outstanding, and the scorelines astonishing. If they keep it up they will be putting themselves right in the frame for team of the season.

QEGS Wakefield should still win this, but expect a big contest.

Prediction – QEGS Wakefield

 

Wellington College v Millfield

Arguably one of the biggest games of the season, let alone the weekend. These are two of the greatest heavyweights in schoolboy rugby, and will be right at the top end again when this season draws to a close.

Last season they played out one of the games of the season at Oxford’s Iffley Road, sparking the desire to make this a Saturday block fixture. It seems less likely that we will get such fireworks on Saturday as we had last year.

They have had two common opponents, they both beat RGS High Wycombe, though Wellington did so by a far more decisive margin, while Wellington lost to Dulwich, whereas Millfield beat them in midweek in the Champions Trophy.

Choosing between them on Saturday is hard, the absence of Josh Bayliss for Millfield is a real blow but they have plenty of quality elsewhere. Home advantage may just be the telling factor here.

Prediction – Wellington College, by a whisker.

 

Whitgift v Warwick

Another monster of a game. After an injury plagued early season misfire, Warwick are very much back up and running, while Whitgift have beaten two sides comfortably, but against the very best, Sedbergh and Wellington, they have just come up short.

That big game experience could be vital for them though, they have played against the best and can use that against Warwick. That said, a back to fitness Warwick side is a side made up of U15 NatWest Cup winners, arguably placing them among that elite too.

It ought to be a superb contest and a very tight game. A win for Warwick would really signal their return, while a Whitgift win would show that they can do it against the top side.

Prediction – Whitgift, just.

 

Five brilliant fixtures, that should produce five brilliant games. There are plenty more just like them though, and here are five that we have picked out.

 

Abingdon v Cheltenham College

Two schools really striving to keep on building the strength of their rugby, and two schools who are making a good go of it.

Both have had decent starts to the season, though Cheltenham will have been disappointed to lose their derby game against Pate’s Grammar School on Tuesday, Abingdon meanwhile would have wanted to beat Berkhamsted a couple of weeks back.

It should be a superb game of rugby, we have Abgindon down as slight favourites but it really could go either way.

Prediction – Abindgon

 

Barnard Castle v Merchiston Castle

We love these cross-border clashes, they really give the season an extra sprinkling of excitement and passion.

Last week Sedbergh went to Merchiston and beat them on their own patch, now the Scots come down to challenge as English side on English soil. Barnard Castle will provide a stiff challenge, they proved as much on Wednesday with their Champions Trophy victory over King’s Macclesfield, but Merchiston are one of the strongest sides in Scotland.

Much will probably come down to how each has recovered from their midweek games. One thing is for sure, it will be a great occasion. With both Scotland and England playing in the World Cup after the conclusion of this game, you can be sure that the socialising will continue long past the final whistle.

Prediction – Merchiston, just.

 

Radley College v Tonbridge

The balance of this game may well come down to how Radley react to their defeat to Sedbergh in the Champions Trophy on Tuesday. If they are disheartened by having played so well and ending up on the losing side by a bit of a margin, they could struggle here against a good Tonbridge side. If they are buoyed by having played so well against what is surely one of the best teams in the country, they might well produce something very special on Saturday.

Form says Tonbridge are the favourites in this classic schoolboy fixture, and there is nothing to suggest that that should not continue, but look out for Radley, they could just be inspired.

Prediction – Radley

 

RGS Lancaster v Kirkham Grammar School

This is a very interesting game indeed. Kirkham Grammar School were one of the strongest sides in the country last year, and they look to be heading that way again this, having scored over fifty points in their three games to date.

This, however, is their first real test of the season. RGS Lancaster are one of the surprise packages of the season having beaten King’s Macclesfield, Merchant Taylors, and Grammar School at Leeds, as well as earning an impressive draw against QEGS.

Kirkham are still favourites, but this is their first big challenge of the season. It will be fascinating to see how it pans out.

Prediction – Kirkham

 

Stamford v Bedford Modern

Could this be Stamford’s first home defeat in four years? Certainly they are vulnerable, they have had a shaky start to the season, not aided by a horrible injury crisis, and Bedford Modern are a good side, who put on fifty points in the NatWest Cup on Wednesday by the half hour mark.

In three away games so far, Stamford have lost all three. However their two home games suggest that remarkable record is not about to slip, having put 78 points on Princethorpe at the start of the season, before bouncing back from those three away game sin a row to beat King’s Grantham well at home.

Bedford Modern will challenge though, they have only lost once, though it was to Haileybury, one of the sides who also beat Stamford. The suggestion is that this might be close, but Stamford tend not to lose close ones at home, not with such a proud record to protect.

Prediction – Stamford

 

Overall a fascinating weekend looms, and that is without even mentioning games such as Uppingham v Rugby, Woodhouse grove v King’s Macclesfield, Solihull v Bromsgrove, or Oakham v Bedford.

There is also NatWest Cup action in the from of St Ambrose College v Stockport Grammar School.

All of that followed by two superb Rugby World Cup matches, Scotland v South Africa at 16.45, and England v Australia at 20.00.

That’s what Saturday’s were made for, isn’t it?

Do you agree with our predictions? Get in touch on @FifteenRugbyXV, Facebook, or writers@fifteenrugby.com – where you can also send in any photos, videos, or match reports from the weekend’s play.

 

Schools Rugby Fixtures (Predictions in bold):

 

5 Key Fixtures:

 

Dulwich College v Brighton College

Oundle v Stowe

St Peter’s, York v QEGS Wakefield

Wellington College v Millfield

Whitgift v Warwick

 

5 Previewed Fixtures:

 

Abingdon v Cheltenham College

Barnard Castle v Merchiston Castle

Radley College v Tonbridge

RGS Lancaster v Kirkham Grammar School

Stamford v Bedford Modern

 

Other Key School Games:

 

Adams GS v Loughborough GS

Ampleforth College v Sedbergh

Bablake v Leicester GS

Bishop’s Stortford HS v St Olave’s GS
Bishop Wordsworth’s v Canford

Blundell’s v Truro School

Caterham v Christ’s Hospital

Chislehurst & Sidcup GS v Cranbrook

Churcher’s College v Lord Wandsworth College

Clifton College v Sir Thomas Rich’s

Cranleigh v Skinners’

Durham v Hymers College

Eltham College v Sevenoaks

Epsom College v RGS Guildford

Feslted v Gresham’s

Giggleswick v Ashville College

John Cleveland v Princethorpe College

Judd v Langley Park

KES Birmingham v Bloxham

King’s College Taunton v Colston’s

King’s Worcester v Monmouth

London Oratory v Gunnersbury

Lymm HS v Wilmslow HS
Malvern College v Hereford Cathedral School

Merchant Taylors v Magdalen College

Mount St Mary’s College v Ratcliffe College

New Hall v Trinity

Northampton School for Boys v St Joseph’s College

Norwich v Bishop’s Stortford College

Nottingham HS v Bradford GS

Oakham v Bedford

Old Swinford Hospital v Trent College

Pangbourne College v Mill Hill

Pate’s GS v The Crypt

Perse v Royal Hospital School

Prior Park v Kingswood

QES Barnet v Campion

Reading Blue Coat v Aylesbury GS

Reed’s v The Oratory

RGS Newcastle v Grammar School at Leeds

RGS Worcester v Bristol GS

Sandbach v Cheadle Hulme

Seaford College v Portsmouth GS
Shiplake College v St Edward’s, Oxford

Solihull v Bromsgrove

St Alban’s v Berkhamsted

St Ambrose College v Stockport GS (NatWest Cup)

St George’s College, Weybridge v KCS Wimbledon

St Paul’s v Tiffin

Sutton Valence v Eastbourne College

Uppingham v Rugby

Wallington CGS v Dartford GS

Wimbledon College v John Fisher

Woodhouse Grove v King’s Macclesfield

Worksop v Welbeck

Worth v Reigate GS
Yarm v King’s Priory

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