This midweek of schools rugby feels like the real high point of the schools rugby season.
Not only do we have the Champions Trophy and AASE finals at Allianz Park on Wednesday, there are also brilliant one off games such as Sedbergh v Wellington College at Broadstreet RFC, while the NatWest Cup now moves into the last 64, and begins to get right into the nitty gritty and highlight competitive rugby that we all know and love in this competition.
The action all started on Monday with an area cup game between Haileybury and Watford Grammar School, which Haileybury won 22-15.
Things stay relatively quiet on Tuesday. Just one NatWest Cup tie is scheduled, the South West B tie between King Edward VI Southampton and the surprise packages of last year, Dauntsey’s.
Outside of the Cup The Leys host Bishop’s Stortford College in what promises to be a good game of rugby.
Wednesday is perhaps the most pivotal day of the schools rugby season so far. The bulk of the NatWest Cup 4th round ties take place, a stack of NatWest Vase ties too, the Champions Trophy and AASE finals take place, while there are a number of high quality regular fixtures such as Sedbergh v Wellington College.
We will be looking at the Champions Trophy final and AASE finals in detail elsewhere, but they promise to be two great games at Allianz Park, with Bedford v Epsom College in the Champions Trophy final, kicking off at 14.30, and Bicton College v Hartpury College in the AASE final at 17.00.
Sedbergh v Wellington College is always a classic at Broadstreet RFC, who could forget last year’s 37-34 triumph for Sedbergh thanks to a cool late penalty from Sedbergh’s Johnny McPhillips?
This year looks set to be crucial in the Daily Mail Trophy. Wellington are sitting top and must be favourites to retain their title, but have dropped a couple of games this season, which will give Sedbergh reason for confidence. Sedbergh were the pace setters all season until about a week ago, but they have suddenly lost three in a row, though one was not a Daily Mail Trophy game, it was the Champions Trophy semi final. They have since slipped to fifth, so Wednesday is crucial. It ought to be a classic.
The NatWest Cup throws up some immense fixtures on Wednesday. Champions Bromsgrove, who failed to win for the first time all season on Saturday as they drew with RGS High Wycombe, face their toughest challenge in the competition this year, away at Solihull in Midlands A.
Warwick, whose side all won the Cup as U15s, also face a tricky tie, they are away at RGS Worcester in Midlands B. RGS’ great rivals King’s Worcester also have a tricky Midlands B tie, at home against Ellesmere College. The winners will face each other in the next round, a mouthwatering tie whoever progresses.
Carre’s Grammar v Langley is the other Midlands B tie taking place, with Oundle v Leicester Grammar scheduled for a later date.
Elsewhere in Midlands A, Bedford Modern host Roundwood Park, and the Perse travel to Bishop’s Stortford High School. Abingdon host KES Birmingham.
There are some brilliant fixtures in the North. RGS Newcastle and Durham meet in North A, it is their second meeting this season, Durham won the first, RGS will be desperate for the second. The winner plays the winner of another great looking fixture, Ampleforth College v St Peter’s York.
RGS Lancaster meanwhile host Austin Friars, with QEGS Wakefield v Stockport Grammar completing a highly competitive looking North A Round 4 series of games.
North B on Wednesday sees King William’s host Calday Grange and Pocklington travel to Mount St Mary’s. Bolton meanwhile host 2013 Daily Mail Trophy winners, Woodhouse Grove.
Always competitive in this competition, RGS High Wycombe travel to Lord Wandsworth College on Wednesday for their South West A fixture. The winner of that plays the winner of Bishop Wordsworth’s v Aylesbury Grammar, also a Wednesday fixture.
South West B’s Wednesday fixture sees Exeter College host Weston College.
London & South East A features a number of exciting and key games. Hurstpierpoint College, who have a history of troubling sides in this competition such as Dulwich in 2012 and St Benedict’s in 2008, face 2010 and 2011 winners Whitgift.
They play the winners of a mouth-watering clash between St Benedict’s and KCS Wimbledon, which will be live streamed as part of the RFU’s trail to Twickenham. Wednesday’s London & South East A action also includes Campion v St Joseph’s College, a fascinating tie, particularly as two years ago St Jo’s lost at Campion unexpectedly at the same stage. This could be a revenge mission.
Wednesday in London & South East B will see Judd travel to Simon Langton and the ever strong John Fisher host New Hall.
Trinity host Richard Collyer, and the winners of that will face the winners of what is potentially one of the ties of the round, Hampton v Reigate Grammar. Hampton are the St Joseph’s Festival winners and are very strong, but arrive on the back of a defeat, while Reigate have lost just once all season, are scoring points for fun, and shocked Harrow in the last round – this will be interesting.
In the Vase, Caterham v City of London Freemen’s is perhaps the pick of the bunch on Wednesday and ought to be a fine game.
Thursday will see Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital host former winners St Peter’s Gloucester in the NatWest Cup, that is a South West B fixture.
In the Vase Harrogate Grammar host Sir John Fisher and Loughborough Grammar host Northampton School for Boys, which ought to be an excellent fixture.
Elsewhere Milton Abbey host downside and Sexey’s welcome Monkton Combe, but arguably the fixture of the day sees Bryanston host AASE side Beechen Cliff.
There are four games under the lights on Friday, and all look like outstanding games.
Perhaps the pick of the bunch will be St Joseph’s College v Denstone College, two very strong side. RGS Guildford v Wimbledon College ought also to be outstanding, while Mill Hill v UCS and Merchant Taylors v Haberdashers ought to provide plenty of entertainment too.
It is going to be a busy and brilliant week of schools rugby, with silverware to be handed out in some parts and to look a lot closer to being achievable in others.
Don’t forget to keep us up to date with your scores!
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Haileybury 22-15 Watford GS
The Leys 18-17 Bishop’s Stortford College
King Edward VI, Southampton 3-8 Dauntsey’s (NatWest Cup)
Mill Hill 20-0 Drayton Manor (NatWest Vase)
Wednesday (more to come)
Abingdon v KES Birmingham (NatWest Cup)
Ampleforth College v St Peter’s York (NatWest Cup)
Bedford v Epsom College (Champions Trophy) – LIVE STREAM
Bedford Modern v Roundwood Park (NatWest Cup)
Bishop’s Stortford HS v The Perse (NatWest Cup)
Bishop Wordsworth’s v Aylesbury GS (NatWest Cup)
Bolton v Woodhouse Grove (NatWest Cup)
Campion v St Joseph’s College (NatWest Cup)
Carre’s GS v Langley (NatWest Cup)
Caterham v City of London Freemen’s (NatWest Vase)
Colfe’s v Wilmington GS (NatWest Vase)
Dame Allan’s v Yarm (NatWest Vase)
Dr Challoner’s v Pangbourne College (NatWest Vase)
Exeter College v Weston College (NatWest Cup)
Hampton v Reigate GS (NatWest Cup)
Hurstpierpoint College v Whitgift (NatWest Cup)
John Fisher v New Hall (NatWest Cup)
King Edward 5 Ways v Bablake (NatWest Vase)
King William’s College v Calday Grange GS (NatWest Cup)
King’s Worcester v Ellesmere College (NatWest Cup)
Lord Wandsworth College v RGS High Wycombe (NatWest Cup)
Magdalen College v Royal Latin
Mount St Mary’s v Pocklington (NatWest Cup)
Portsmouth GS v King’s College, Taunton (NatWest Cup) – Postponed
QEGS Wakefield v Stockport GS (NatWest Cup)
RGS Lancaster v Austin Friars (NatWest Cup)
RGS Newcastle v Durham (NatWest Cup)
RGS Worcester v Warwick (NatWest Cup)
Ripley St Thomas v QES Kirkby (NatWest Vase)
Rydal Penrhos v Altrincham GS (NatWest Vase)
Sedbergh v Wellington College – at Broadstreet RFC
Shiplake College v Desborough College
Skinners’ v Sir Joseph Williamson’s (NatWest Cup)
Simon Langton v Judd (NatWest Cup)
Solihull v Bromsgrove (NatWest Cup)
St Ambrose College v Hutton GS (NatWest Vase)
St Benedict’s v KCS Wimbledon (NatWest Cup) – LIVE STREAM
St George’s College, Weybridge v Reading Blue Coat
Tiffin v Emanuel
Tring v St Columba’s College (NatWest Vase)
Trinity v Richard Collyer (NatWest Cup)
Wallington CGS v Steyning GS (NatWest Vase)
Bryanston v Beechen Cliff
Harrogate GS v St John Fisher (NatWest Vase)
Loughborough GS v Northampton SfB (NatWest Vase)
Milton Abbey v Downside
QEH v St Peter’s Gloucester (NatWest Cup)
Sexey’s v Monkton Combe
Merchant Taylors v Haberdashers
Mill Hill v UCS
St Joseph’s College v Denstone College
RGS Guildford v Wimbledon College