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Schools Rugby Weekend Preview – A fascinating weekend awaits

This weekend is a slightly quitter one than usual, with many schools on exeat this weekend.

 

That said, it really is only slightly, there are some absolutely superb looking fixtures ahead, and some very tough ones to predict!

 

5 Key Fixtures

 

We begin, as ever, with our 5 Key Fixtures, and they are five mouthwatering ones once again, with plenty of intrigue surrounding them.

 

Barnard Castle v Kirkham Grammar School

 

Barnard Castle have been superb this season but suffered a narrow defeat last week to a very good QEGS Wakefield side. They will want to bounce back in style, but what awaits them is one of the fiercest challenges in schools rugby at the moment.

 

Kirkham Grammar School are enjoying an unbeaten season at the moment, and that includes a stunning 27-0 victory over the mighty Sedbergh last week – they really are a top side, arguably the top side if one looks at results.

 

They ought to be favourites on Saturday, but must be wary of what is a very good Barnard Castle side, capable of springing an upset.

 

Prediction – Kirkham Grammar School

 

Dulwich College v Hampton

 

The have been times in recent years when this game has been one of the very biggest of the season, across the country. Some of the NatWest Cup ties in particular have been monumental, particularly that semi final back in 2013.

 

Dulwich arrive off the back of a defeat to Whitgift, while Hampton last game was postponed, though prior to that they beat Berkhamsted.

 

It has been a terrific season for Hampton, for while dropping a couple of games, they won the prestigious St Joseph’s Festival. They were quite sublime that weekend, and if they produce anything like that level of performance then they ought to win at Dulwich College on Saturday.

 

Dulwich are a side with a plan though, and always have a way and a will to win, as shown by a defeat of Wellington College earlier this season. They will fancy themselves.

 

Prediction – Hampton

 

RGS High Wycombe v Bromsgrove

 

Another game that over the last few years has become not just a top quality fixture, but a crucial one.

 

RGS are having a bit of an up and down year. They have been sublime at times, including their run to the St Joseph’s Festival final, but have dropped more games than they would have liked.
Their opposition, the NatWest Cup champions, are look utterly imperious. If anything they seem even better than last year, and are yet to lose a game.

 

Bromsgrove will be favourites, and rightly so, they are outstanding this year, but RGS are used to playing top sides and will fancy themselves to be in with a shout.

 

Prediction – Bromsgrove

 

Stamford v Denstone College

 

This is a very interesting game. Stamford will hate us for saying it, such is the pressure that comes with it, but one of the major reasons is that unbeaten home record of theirs, which stands at over four years now. Quite unbelievable.

 

This has been a tough year though, they are yet to win on the road, yet that home record still stands.

 

Denstone College could threaten it though, certainly they are one of the strongest sides that Stamford will have welcomed this year, and they were looking in excellent form at the St Joseph’s Festival before half term, where they won the Plate competition.

 

Our view is though that Stamford will just get over the line in this one, but it’ll be tight.

 

Prediction – Stamford

 

Warwick v Sedbergh

 

You suspect that Sedbergh will be like caged animals for this one. Ordinarily you might think perhaps they would have an eye on their midweek clash with Wellington College on Wednesday but not this year, not a chance.

 

After two defeats on the bounce, to Bedford and Kirkham Grammar, they are going to be as fired up as they can get. Sedbergh do not often lose, and certainly not twice in a row. Three times? That would be unthinkable.

 

Warwick have the potential to upset them though. It has been a tough old year for Warwick, who have lost more than they would have expected, but they have a core of very good players and if things click they could be very dangerous.

 

They will need them to click, for if not you sense that Sedbergh will be baying for blood.

 

Prediction – Sedbergh

 

5 Previews

 

There is plenty of other top school level action outside of those five games though, and in particular with our five previews, which we think should be five very good games.

 

Berkhamsted v St Paul’s

 

Berkhamsted are looking very strong this year, and have only lost twice. One of those was, in fact, a draw, however it so them go out of the Cup on try count to Hampton. They bounced back from that perfectly last week though, beating Stamford 12-0.

 

This week they face one of the form sides in the country over the season, St Paul’s. However last weekend St Paul’s were handed a bit of a mauling from Tonbridge, who beat them 31-0. How they respond will be crucial.

 

St Paul’s are perhaps marginal favourites, but how much will that loss have shaken them? If they are anywhere below par then this outstanding Berkhamsted side will seize upon it.

 

Prediction – St Paul’s, just.

 

Bradford Grammar School v QEGS Wakefield

 

A great clash between two local rivals, and two teams playing some top quality rugby.

 

Bradford Grammar have lost just twice all year, and are unbeaten since mid September, including wins over Woodhouse Grove and Trent College, and a draw with Stonyhurst.

 

QEGS are flying though, they are unbeaten in the regular reason, and have only lost at the St Joseph’s Festival, arguably the most intense and high quality schools rugby around. They beat Barnard Castle in a classic last week, and will be looking for more this week. It should be a good one.

 

Prediction – QEGS Wakefield

 

Brighton College v Skinners’

 

There is some real intrigue in this tie. Generally speaking, Brighton College would be favourites against Skinners’, who are nonetheless usually a very decent side, but last year Brighton College were stunned by Skinners’, losing 15-8.

 

You can bet, therefore, that Brighton College will be doing everything in their power to avenge that. They are quite considerable powers too, they have beaten the likes of Epsom College and Trinity.

 

There are vulnerabilities though, it has been a bit of an up and down season at times, with some brilliant wins but also a few more losses than they would like. Skinners’ will hope to be able to be added to the list of those who have beaten Brighton College this year, but it will be a tough ask. They have performed well at times this season, but have then slipped up against the likes of Eastbourne College.

 

Prediction – Brighton College

 

KCS Wimbledon v St John’s Leatherhead

 

This is going to be absolutely fascinating, both schools have produced some truly outstanding displays this season and, having seen them both in action, they look well matched.

 

KCS have actually only lost three times, and their outstanding list of victories includes a big win over Dulwich College. St John’s have lost a few more games than KCS, but have been able to step up in the big ones, most notably in their 17-14 win over Tonbridge in the Champions Trophy.

 

All of which suggest that this really should be an outstanding game of rugby, between two sides who look more than capable of producing the spectacular, if the moment arises.

 

Predictions – KCS Wimbledon

 

The Oratory v London Oratory

 

How could we not include what is sure to be a fascinating between these two namesakes?

 

The Oratory (Reading) play a hugely demanding fixture list, which means that they suffer a few losses. However that should not diminish from their quality, and they arrive at this fixture full of confidence after an excellent 8-3 derby day win over Pangbourne College.

 

London Oratory were on a real roll at the start of the season, and almost went into half term unbeaten before St Paul’s rather burst the bubble. Since then it has been more of a struggle, with just one win in their last three, but they have some impressive victories to their name.

 

It should be a good game, and is a very tough one to call.

 

Prediction – The Oratory

 

Around the Grounds

 

There are some other fascinating fixtures all around. Woodhouse Grove v Durham ought to be a good game, while it will be fascinating to see how the likes of Tonbridge and Seaford College go after big wins last time out.

 

Reigate Grammar will want to keep their foot to the floor after their midweek heroics, and can King’s College Taunton back up last week’s stunning last minute win when they play Kingswood?

 

Hurstpierpoint College v St George’s Weybridge looks like a good game, so too Grammar School at Leeds v Hymers College, both have struggled after good years last year, and a win on Saturday would be a welcome boost.

 

Campion v John Fisher also stands out, traditionally speaking John Fisher are the stronger, but this year Campion have been outstanding. Could they shock then men from Croydon?

 

Stonyhurst College v RGS Lancaster in the NatWest Cup is also likely to be a classic. Had we seen it earlier it might well have been one of one key games. Both are in good form and are excellent sides. Choosing between them is very tough, perhaps home advantage may just work for Stonyhurst. Could really go either way.

 

It ought to be yet another fascinating weekend of schools rugby.

 

If you want to send in any photos, reports, or videos from the weekend’s school rugby please email them in to: writers@fifteenrugby.com

 

Schools Rugby Weekend Fixtures (predictions in bold):

 

5 Key Fixtures

 

Barnard Castle v Kirkham GS

Dulwich College v Hampton

RGS High Wycombe v Bromsgrove

Stamford v Denstone College

Warwick v Sedbergh

 

5 Previews

 

Berkhamsted v St Paul’s

Bradford GS v QEGS Wakefield

Brighton College v Skinners’

KCS Wimbledon v St John’s, Leatherhead

Oratory v London Oratory

 

Other Key Fixtures

 

Abingdon v RGS Guildford

Bablake v King’s Worcester

Bishop Vesey’s v Bloxham

Bolton v Stockport GS

Campion v John Fisher

Cheadle Hulme v Hutton GS

Colston’s v Bristol GS
Dame Allan’s v RGS Newcastle

Dartford GS v Cranbrook

Eltham College v Caterham

Grammar School at Leeds v Hymers College

Hurstpierpoint College v St George’s College, Weybridge

Judd v St Olave’s GS

KES Aston v Leicester GS

King’s College, Taunton v Kingswood

King’s Grantham v Northampton SfB

King’s Macclesfield v Wilmslow HS

Loughborough GS v KES Birmingham

Nottingham HS v Solihull

Perse v Norwich

Portsmouth GS v Bryanston

Reading v Reading Blue Coat

Reigate GS v City of London Freemen’s

RGS Lancaster v Crossley Heath

RGS Worcester v Hereford Cathedral School

Royal Hospital School v Felsted

Rydal Penrhos v Birkenhead

Sandbach v St Ambrose College

Seaford College v Churcher’s College

St Albans v Bedford Modern

St Joseph’s College v RGS Colchester

St Peter’s Gloucester v Pate’s GS

Stonyhurst College v RGS Lancaster – NatWest Cup

Tonbridge v King’s Canterbury

Uppingham v Culford

Wimbledon College v Reed’s

Windsor Boys v Tiffin

Wirral GS v Lymm HS

Woodhouse Grove v Durham

Worth v Emanuel

Yarm v Newcastle School for Boys

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