The school season is approaching fast, with pre-season cranking up for everyone and some very competitive fixtures on the horizon.
There are a number of midweek fixtures this week, most are simply pre-season fixtures but with the season starting on Saturday for some, and the following weekend for many, these are now very competitive games.
The action all starts tomorrow with Lord Wandsworth’s College taking on KES Bath. The Hampshire side are then in action again on Thursday against a Clifton College side with some huge ambitions this year after a couple of very promising years.
Wednesday is the big day this week though with a number of ‘big hitters’ in action as they get underway with their final preparations ahead of the season’s start.
Biggest of all, perhaps, are the back to back NatWest Schools Cup champions, Bromsgrove. They take on Canford in preparation for a start of the season that is going to prove fiendishly difficult with away trips to Warwick, Oundle, and Champions Trophy holders Bedford in their first three games.
They then take on Solihull, who continue their preparations with a tough away trip to RGS High Wycombe on Wednesday. RGS are always in the mix at the top end of the schools rugby ladder, but start their campaign with a similarly tough few weeks to Bromsgrove’s. They face Daily Mail Trophy champions Wellington College before a home tie against Stowe and then an away trip to the mighty Millfield. Throw in games against John Fisher and Hampton, and RGS have arguably one of the toughest starts of all.
The big fixtures keep on coming on Wednesday, with Stamford making the trip up to Durham to round off pre-season. Durham are consistently one of the top sides in the northern region, while Stamford are unbeaten at home in over five years now. This away trip is vital preparation for them if they want to keep that run going as they face tough early home fixtures against Oundle and Oakham.
Oakham themselves are also in action on Wednesday in a cracker of a match against the reigning St Joseph’s Festival winners, Hampton. With the Festival only a month and a half away, Hampton will be looking to build some early momentum as they look to defend their title.
Also on Wednesday is a huge annual pre-season clash between Sir Thomas Rich’s and Seaford College, two schools with big and exciting ambitions for the season ahead, while City of London Freemen’s host St Dunstan’s.
Thursday is a slightly quieter day, as mentioned Clifton College meet Lord Wandsworth College, while Lymm High School, always high achievers, host Cokethorpe.
The big game of the day though will see Welsh side Monmouth travel to the mighty Blackrock College in Ireland, perhaps one of the most famous rugby schools in the country.
The midweek action finishes on Friday with the first Daily Mail Trophy fixture of the season, Marlborough College v Magdalen College. Magdalen College actually finished above Marlborough College last year, 62nd to Marlborough’s 79th, but with former Scotland captain Budge Poutney now firmly bedded in at Marlborough, they will be hoping to jump much further up the table this year.
Following that it is on to Saturday and the first big batch of official school fixtures for the 2016/17 season, it already looks like being a great season, and we cannot wait for it to get started!
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Schools Rugby Midweek Fixtures:
Tuesday 30th August
KES Bath v Lord Wandsworth’s College
Wednesday 31st August
Bromsgrove v Canford
City of London Freemen’s v St Dunstan’s
Durham v Stamford
Hampton v Oakham
RGS High Wycombe v Solihull
Sir Thomas Rich’s v Seaford College
Thursday 1st September
Blackrock College v Monmouth
Clifton College v Lord Wandsworth’s College
Lymm High School v Cokethorpe
Friday 2nd September
Marlborough College v Magdalen College