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Schools Rugby Weekend Preview & Prediction – Classic Weekend Ahead

After a huge week of schools rugby it almost seems hard to believe that the weekend is already almost upon us, and it looks like the quality of the midweek rugby is set to continue into Saturday.

 

Everywhere you look there are top quality fixtures, with some hugely significant clashes. The Daily Mail Trophy table could well have a bit of a shake up by the close of play, while there are some fixture that could be psychologically key given some of the Cup games coming up, and those that have just been.

 

5 Key Fixtures

 

We begin our weekend preview, as ever, with our five key fixtures, and they are five superb games this weekend.

 

Kirkham Grammar School v Sedbergh

 

This has become the key fixture on the Northern circuit in recent seasons, these two schools have been quite exceptional. Both are exceptional again this year too.

 

Last season Kirkham Grammar School went unbeaten, and that included a victory away at Sedbergh, Sedbergh’s only defeat of the season.

 

This year Kirkham Grammar School are again unbeaten, while Sedbergh were also unbeaten until Wednesday when they were knocked out of the Champions Trophy at the semi final stage in an absolute classic against Bedford.

 

This one shows all the signs of being another classic. Sedbergh perhaps are slight favourites given their slightly tougher fixture list leading up to this game, plus some of their individual stardust, but Kirkham are not far behind at all and could well win this two years running. It is going to be fascinating.

 

Prediction – Sedbergh

 

Harrow v Warwick

 

Another fascinating fixture. Harrow have been right at the top of the school game this term, losing just twice. Defeats have come against Tonbridge and St Paul’s, two top quality sides who also feature in our 5 key fixtures. Victories include the likes of Oundle, Dulwich, and an impressive performance that Fifteen Rugby witnessed against Eton College.

 

Warwick’s season has been a little more mixed, four defeats is a few more than they would have wanted, but when you look at who they have come to (Champions Trophy finalists Bedford and NatWest Cup champions Bromsgrove to name just two), suddenly you realise that actually Warwick are a very good side playing on a very tough circuit.

 

All of which makes tomorrow’s game fascinating. Harrow are perhaps narrow favourites, but they will certainly be pushed all the way by a Warwick side who will want to have a very strong last month of term as they try to build for the Cup too.

 

Prediction – Harrow

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Tonbridge v St Paul’s

 

This fixture is truly fascinating. Both sides have crept somewhat under the radar. That is particularly odd with St Paul’s, who have lost just once all year, to Epsom College the Champions Trophy finalists, and have won every other game, including winning the Oldest Four competition. Only since then have they really been recognised as being as good as they are.

 

Three defeats from four games in September put Tonbridge under the radar but since then they have been superb, including victories over Harrow last week, and, in particular, over the outstanding Cranleigh just before half term.

 

That makes this fixture absolutely fascinating. St Paul’s superior record perhaps just makes them favourites, but Tonbridge’s recent results are superb and with a passionate home crowd behind them they will be tough to stop.

 

Prediction – St Paul’s, just.

 

Wellington College v Epsom College

 

This fixture is intriguing. Traditionally these are two of the very strongest teams in the country, and they certainly seem so again this year. Epsom College’s win over Blundell’s on Wednesday put them into the Champions Trophy final in ten days time, while Wellington College sit in second place in the Daily Mail Trophy, as they try to defend the title that they won last year.

 

Wellington have been susceptible to the odd surprise defeat though, they lost to Dulwich College and Sherborne, who were both outstanding, in games that Wellington probably felt they should win heading in to them. There have been some hugely impressive victories though, including a dominant one of Champions Trophy holders Millfield, and a victory last weekend against the St Joseph’s Festival winners, Hampton.

 

Epsom College have lost three times, to Stowe, the brilliant Cranleigh, and Brighton College. Like Wellington though it is their victories that should be focused on and in particular that run to the Champions Trophy final.

 

It is perhaps that semi final on Wednesday that just tips the balance Wellington’s way a little, in our opinion, there could just be a little tiredness in the Epsom bodies after what was a draining encounter. Either way though, this is a schoolboy classic.

 

Prediction – Wellington College

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Whitgift v Dulwich College

 

Another game that really is something of a schoolboy classic. Around three years ago this was arguably the school fixture of the year, what with Whitgift coming off the back of back to back Schools Cup titles and Dulwich College in the middle of their own Schools Cup era.

 

It is still a classic now, and Saturday should be no different. Whitgift are on a very good run this season, only losing to Sedbergh and Wellington College, who sit first and second in the Daily Mail Trophy table.

 

Dulwich College have lost a fair few games this season, but we are always loathe to write them off. Their ability to make a plan and execute in these big games is perhaps without parallel, as shown earlier in the season when they defeat Wellington College.

 

Stats suggest that Whitgift should win this one, but write off Dulwich College at your peril. This should end up being very close indeed.

 

Prediction – Whitgift.

 

5 Previews

 

Those five key fixtures are far from the only top quality fixtures this weekend, and narrowing down our choice of other previews to just five proved a bit of a challenge, nevertheless, we have picked out another five that we think are going to be great games.

 

Ampleforth College v Stonyhurst College

 

Traditionally two of the strongest teams in the region, these two have not quite been in the form of old in the last few years or so.

 

However Stonyhurst in the past couple have been slowly building and looking a lot like their old selves again. This season in particular has been outstanding and has included a victory against RGS Lancaster, who look strong, and a draw with Bradford Grammar, also in good form. Stonyhurst are also going well in the Cup, where they look like contenders for the National stage.

 

Ampleforth’s has been a less consistent season, but nonetheless there are signs of them growing slightly towards back where they once were, there have been impressive victories, including a destruction of Grammar School at Leeds on the opening weekend, and like Stonyhurst, they are going strong in the Cup.

 

Prediction – Stonyhurst College

 

Barnard Castle v QEGS Wakefield

 

A huge clash between two sides who are traditionally among the strongest in the country, they have fantasic long term records and a hatful of Schools Cup finals appearances between them and rugby playing alumni.

 

Barnard Castle had a quiet few years but have been roaring this year, their only defeats have come to Champions Trophy semi finalists Blundell’s (in the quarter final) and Sedbergh, who also sit top of the Daily Mail Trophy table. Points have been coming in by the hatful, and QEGS will need to be right at the top of their game.

 

QEGS have impressed too though. Everyone in their team has experience of a NatWest Cup final as an U15, and this season their only defeats have come in the enormously competitive St Joseph’s Festival.

 

This is going to be an absolutely titanic game of schools rugby, and it is wonderful for this to be such a big game again. We can’t wait.

 

Prediction – Barnard Castle, just.

 

Blundell’s v Millfield

 

This is a very interesting fixture. In recent years this has almost been a bit of a routine win for Millfield, but their form this season has not been where it has been for the past few years, while Blundell’s has been truly outstanding, as captured by their run to the Champions Trophy semi finals, culminating in that superb game against Epsom on Wednesday, that ultimately ended in defeat.

 

All of which makes this a hugely important game for Millfield. After defeat to Llandovery College last week, they will be desperate to win this so that they can enjoy a good a successful run to the end of term and gain some real momentum.

 

For Blundell’s, this is an opportunity to put the wind back in their sails after what will have been a hugely demoralising defeat to Epsom in that midweek semi final. They also lost to Clifton College the week before, so they will want a win to get back on track too.

 

Blundell’s are maybe, maybe, favourites for this one. But it seems crazy to write off Millfield.

 

Prediction – Blundell’s, but only just. Could go either way.

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Cheltenham College v Marlborough College

 

Another good old-fashioned schools rugby classic. These two have perhaps not been at their finest this season, but both possess some excellent players and play good rugby under the tutelage of former internationals Olly Morgan and Budge Poutney respectively.

 

Only twice have Cheltenham secured this season, against Uppingham early on and against Radley College in their final game before half term. Last weekend saw them secure a somewhat old fashioned 3-3 draw against Rugby, but does show their ability to battle through a game in torrid conditions.

 

They have every reason to fancy themselves here though, Marlborough’s only victory came against Bishop Wordsworth’s, though like Cheltenham their results do not necessarily reflect the quality of some of their performances at times this season.

 

This should be a good a game, and an important one to win as it could set the tone for the remainder of the term.

 

Prediction – Cheltenham College

 

Monmouth v Bromsgrove

 

Last season Monmouth were one of only two teams to beat Bromsgrove all year, before Bromsgrove went on to win the NatWest Cup. This year Bromsgrove arrive in Wales unbeaten and with Monmouth needed to put in a serious performance if they are to repeat last year’s result. Bromsgrove already look like favourites to retain the Cup.

 

Monmouth started the season in good form but have had a horrible little run of late, losing to Sir Thomas Rich’s, Crawshay’s Welsh XV, and Stowe in successive weeks. They will be desperately hoping for a win to halt that slide and regain some momentum.

 

Against this Bromsgrove side that is a task that all other schools have found impossible to date this season though, and Bromsgrove will be feeling very confident as they travel into Wales.

 

Prediction – Bromsgrove

 

Around the Country

 

A few fixtures outside of those previewed above really capture our attention this week. It will be interesting to see how Bedford’s energy levels are against Radley after that long trip to Sedbergh and energy sapping Champions Trophy semi final clash.

 

Stamford’s trip to Berkhamsted is an interesting one. Stamford look back in form but Berkhamsted have been outstanding this year. Bryanston v Clifton grabs the attention too. Two excellent rugby schools, Bryanston surprisingly lost last week, while Clifton secured an excellent win, perhaps they have the edge this week.

 

Hampton v Campion looks interesting, Hampton are a top class outfit as their St Joseph’s Festival triumph showed, and will be favourites, but Campion are a potential banana skin. They have been superb all season.

 

John Fisher v Eton College is always fascinating. Eton are probably favourites but this is always a fiercely contested and highly competitive fixture.

 

Oundle v Oakham will be a good game, the two played just before half term, and Oundle won. Back on their own turf they will fancy their chances of doing the double, but Oakham are a fast improving team and will cause problems.

 

Rugby v Abingdon and Seaford College v Brighton College look like two games that could prove both very entertaining and highly competitive. If you find yourself in either area, it would be well worth popping in for some top quality schools rugby.

 

Sir Thomas Rich’s v RGS High Wycombe also catches the attention, two schools who have been playing some excellent rugby and who on their day are capable of beating anyone, this ought to be fascinating.

 

It ought to be a superb weekend across the length and breadth of the country!

 

As ever, if you have any results, photos, reports, or videos from this weekend’s game, please send them in to writers@fifteenrugby.com or through Twitter on @FifteenRugbyXV

 

Schools Rugby Weekend Fixtures (predictions in bold):

 

5 Key Fixtures

 

Kirkham GS v Sedbergh

Harrow v Warwick

Tonbridge v St Paul’s

Wellington College v Epsom College

Whitgift v Dulwich College

 

5 Previews

 

Ampleforth College v Stonyhurst College

Barnard Castle v QEGS Wakefield

Blundell’s v Millfield

Cheltenham College v Marlborough College

Monmouth v Bromsgrove

 

Other Key Fixtures

 

Adams GS v King’s Macclesfield

Ashville College v Worksop College

Aylesbury GS v Magdalen College

Bablake v Bishop Vesey’s GS

Bedford v Radley College

Berkhamsted v Stamford

Bishop’s Stortford College v The Perse

Bishop’s Stortford HS v Dartford GS

Bishop Wordsworth’s v Dauntsey’s

Bolton School v Cheadle Hulme

Bradford GS v Trent College

Bryanston v Clifton College

Calday Grange v Ellesmere College

Canford v Sherborne

Caterham v Sevenoaks

Christ’s Hospital v Churcher’s College

City of London Freemen’s v Chislehurst & Sidcup GS

Colston’s v Kingswood

Dean Close v Malvern College

Downside v Prior Park College

Durham v Yarm

Eltham College v Colfe’s

Giggleswick v Austin Friars

Grammar School at Leeds v Woodhouse Grove

Haileybury v King’s Canterbury

Hampton v Campion

Harrogate GS v Crossley Heath

Hurstpierpoint College v Cranleigh

John Fisher v Eton College

KCS Wimbledon v Shiplake College

KES Birmingham v Solihull

KES Stratford v Pate’s GS
King’s Worcester v Bristol GS

Leys v Royal Hospital School

Lord Wandsworth College v Pangbourne College

Lymm HS v St Ambrose College

Manchester Grammar v Wirral Grammar

Merchant Taylor’s v Bloxham

Mill Hill v Feslted

New Hall v London Oratory

Northampton SfB v Leicester GS

Norwich v Gresham’s

Nottingham HS v Loughborough GS

Old Swinford Hospital v RGS Worcester

Oundle v Oakham

Pocklington v Hymers College

Portsmouth GS v St George’s, Weybridge

QEH v KES Bath

Reading Blue Coat v Claire’s Court

Reigate GS v Sutton Valence

RGS Guildford v Judd

Rugby v Abingdon

Rydal Penrhos v St Edward’s College

Seaford College v Brighton College

Sir Thomas Rich’s v RGS High Wycombe

Skinners’ v Eastbourne College

St George’s, Harpenden v St Columba’s College

St John’s Leatherhead v Reed’s

St Joseph’s College v Langley

Stowe v Uppingham

Taunton v King’s College, Taunton

Trinity v Tiffin

Wimbledon College v St Benedict’s

Worth v King Edward’s, Southampton

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