After a superb opening weekend of the season last week, this weekend looks set to be equally as exciting, plus there is the added benefit of some form to add to the equation.
Like last week, we have picked ten fixtures to focus on, and you have the opportunity to make your predictions on them and challenge us. We also take a look at a few other games from around the country, with a lists of fixtures and predictions at the bottom of the preview. Looking down the list, it is a highly competitive one this week, and a bit of a shame only to focus on ten.
Ampleforth College v St Peter’s York
Ampleforth are off to a flying start after beating Grammar School at Leeds last weekend and putting over fifty past Dame Allan’s in midweek. They will be full of confidence and hoping to be as formidable as some of those teams from the Easterby/Dallaglio years.
St Peter’s are flying too, they had a strong season last year and last weekend they beat Woodhouse Grove in their first game of the season, a Woodhouse Grove side who finished 6th in the Daily Mail Trophy last year.
Prediction: St Peter’s York, just.
Bedford v Bromsgrove
What a game this is! We marked it out months ago as one to watch, and so it should be. Bedford are the Champions Trophy holders, while Bromsgrove are the back to back NatWest Cup holders.
Opening weekend form suggests Bedford ought to be favourites, they gave Uppingham a heavy beating, while Bromsgrove lost to Warwick. However that does not quite tell the whole story, Warwick are a very very good team, who are one of the favourites for silverware this year, while Uppingham are a side who have struggled for a few years now. So this ought to be a very close game, and a very important one for the season ahead – especially for Bromsgrove, 2 defeats from 2 will not be what they are after.
Both sides went unbeaten last year, only one can this, will either be able to by Sunday morning?
Prediction: Bedford, by a whisker.
Millfield v RGS High Wycombe
These two sides both started off with a win, Millfield with a scratchy but commanding victory over Canford, RGS with an excellent narrow victory over eternal rivals, Stowe.
Historically Millfield ought to be the superior side, especially at home. However RGS are a thorn in just about every team’s side, and have always got an excellent team themselves. Last weekend’s win proved that that is once again the case.
Not only that, but RGS won the game last year and will fancy their chances again, though Millfield will perhaps feel they have something of a score to settle.
Radley College v Sherborne
These two sides are often reasonably evenly matched, and are also two of the first group of schools to start playing rugby, giving this game an excellent historical context.
Sherborne’s season got off to an interesting start with a 19-19 draw with a Bishop Wordsworth’s side that is expected to be pretty strong this year, while Radley were still on pre-season, facing Pangbourne and Eton in a mini Festival.
That ought to mean that Sherborne are a little more battle hardened, but expect a good game here.
Stamford v Oakham
We had better start with an apology. Once again we are going to have to talk about that Stamford record because they extended it further last weekend with a 10-5 victory over Oundle. November 2010 was their last home defeat.
Standing in their way this week is another local rival, Oakham. The Rutland School are off to a flyer this year, beating Hampton in pre-season and Denstone College in their opening block fixture on Saturday, they will fancy themselves as being in with a real chance of breaking the Stamford record. For the home side though, the pressure of the record seems not to exist, only the determination to extend it.
Stowe v Warwick
This fixture really grabbed our attention in pre-season, and even more now that last week’s results threw up some headlines. Clearly Warwick are at least close to as good as everyone thought they might be this year, having beaten Bromsgrove in their first game of the season. Their legions of U15 Cup winners and finalists mean they should be performing at that level consistently.
Stowe have long been a side with a fairly intense rivalry with Warwick, and have been a real thorn in the side at times. They will be disappointed to have lost their opener to RGS High Wycombe though, and how they react to that will be key as to how this game unfolds.
Tonbridge v Wellington College
Another fixture that is simply mouthwatering, two of the biggest names in schools rugby going head to head as Wellington College take on the second side in their scarily challenging fixture list, Tonbridge.
Both sides picked up victories last weekend, with Wellingotn College having a slow start against Dulwich College in the first half, only to then tear away for a 26-0 win. Tonbridge meanwhile were more consistent from start to finish, and took home a fairly healthy 22-0 win over Eastbourne College.
One would assume that one of these two, if not both, are going to have to let the opposition’s scoreboard flash up at some stage, but it is those two 0s from round 1 that stand out. Defence is likely to be key on Saturday, whoever can hold out the best should win.
Predictions: Wellington College
Trinity v John Fisher
A huge Croydon derby, perhaps not the Croydon derby of Whitgift v John Fisher, but a huge one all the same. John Fisher are always consistent, but Trinity have been accelerating rapidly over the last few seasons and were exceptional for the last couple.
This year they struggled a little in the pre-season President’s Cup, which John Fisher finished third in, but John Fisher then lost to Hampton in the last kick of the game last week having beaten them for that third place.
Being a derby it ought to be tight and tense, but anything could happen here.
Prediction: John Fisher.
Wimbledon College v KCS Wimbledon
Another derby, this one just a few miles to the West of the previous one as we move to Wimbledon.
This is always a pretty meaty affair, but KCS hold a lot of the aces at the moment having won this fixture last year and won their opening two games of this campaign, while Wimbledon College lost to St John’s Leatherhead.
However that is a little simplistic as St John’s are among the best this year, and Wimbledon College have home advantage in the derby this year. It should be a great afternoon of rugby!
Prediction: KCS Wimbledon.
Woodhouse Grove v QEGS Wakefield
Ahead of the season this was one to search for, 6th place in the Daily Mail Trophy table v runners up in the NatWest Schools Cup.
It suggest a good game, and it should be, though Woodhouse Grove will need to step up a level from last week after their defeat to St Peter’s York, particularly as QEGS hammering RGS Lancaster, another decent side last year, 46-0 on Saturday.
Anything could happen here though, and just might, but QEGS will take some stopping with their side of U15 Cup champions and runners up.
Around the Grounds
There are some brilliant fixtures going on outside of our featured 10 above, not least Cranleigh v St John’s Leatherhead, where last year’s Rosslyn Park champions take on a side who this year look very good indeed and won heavily at the weekend, while Cranleigh lost just 6-3 to Brighton College.
One that takes our interest is Felsted v Haileybury, two schools with hugely promising rugby programs that ought to produce an excellent game of rugby. Durham v Grammar School at Leeds should also be an interesting one. Both are searching for a first win after defeats to RGS Newcastle and Ampleforth respectively, but both will think this is an opportunity to bounce back.
Moving back down South, one classic fixture every year is Marlborough College v Cheltenham College. Marlborough are coming off the back of a heavy defeat to Sedbergh in midweek, but the fact that they are willing to challenge themselves in that way is hugely promising and that determination should help make for a good game with an excellent Cheltenham side. Speaking of Sedbergh, they are also straight back in action as they travel to RGS Newcastle. Sedbergh are favourites but RGS were outstanding against Durham last week and with Sedbergh having a lot of travelling in their legs, they might just have a chance.
It should be fascinating over in Northamptonshire as Oundle host Harrow. Oundle lost to Stamford last week, but you would expect them to bounce back, however doing to against Harrow could be tricky after a very impressive win over Felsted on Saturday. Denstone College will be looking to bounce back after losing to Oakham last week, but Rugby School stand in their way and will not make it easy.
Nor will St Edward’s Oxford in their trip to Uppingham. Uppingham were heavily beaten by Bedford last week and will be desperate to get back on track fast, however St Edward’s lost their derby with Abingdon and will therefore also have that same desire. It should be a close game, with no quarter easily given.
Brighton College v Hustpierpoint College sees the hosts looking to continue their promising pre-season and narrow win over Cranleigh last week, they are certainly a side to keep an eye on at the moment. Dulwich College v Epsom College will also be fascinating. The hosts are one of the most successful sides in school rugby, and while they may not be the force of old, they are still a talented and determined bunch, as their first half v Wellington showed last week. Epsom meanwhile are top of the Daily Mail Trophy after a stunning win over St Paul’s last week. You would expect a brilliant game from these two.
Kirkham Grammar go up against Wirral Grammar as they look to make it two from two, after an unbeaten season last year. Whitgift will be hoping to bounce back from defeat to Sedbergh with a win over Skinners’, who lost to KCS.
Wilmslow High School, meanwhile, face Altrincham Grammar after scoring over fifty points last weekend. They will be feeling full of confidence this week, so keep an eye out for them, as ever.
There are several fixtures on Friday too, with Barnard Castle hosting Dame Allan’s at Darlington Mowden Park, Stockport Grammar hosting Manchester Grammar at Stockport RFC, while St Olave’s v Ravens Wood and Warminster v Wells Cathedral are also on Friday.
Overall it looks like another fascinating weekend of schools rugby, with tales to tell from all over the country!
Don’t forget to share your results with us, and if you have any photos, reports, or videos from the weekend’s school rugby, please do send them into us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org ), Facebook (www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby ), or via Twitter (@FifteenRugbyXV).
Saturday 17th September (predictions in bold):
*DMT stands for Daily Mail Trophy
Focus On; Fixtures:
Ampleforth College v St Peter’s, York (DMT)
Bedford v Bromsgrove (DMT)
Millfield v RGS High Wycombe (DMT)
Radley College v Sherborne (DMT)
Stamford v Oakham (DMT)
Stowe v Warwick (DMT)
Tonbridge v Wellington College (DMT)
Trinity v John Fisher (DMT)
Wimbledon College v KCS Wimbledon (DMT)
Woodhouse Grove v QEGS Wakefield (DMT)
Ashville College v Harrogate GS
Bedford Modern v Aylesbury GS (DMT)
Beechen Cliff v Pate’s GS
Berkhamsted v UCS
Bloxham v Malvern College (DMT)
Blundell’s v Colston’s (DMT)
Brighton College v Hurstpierpoint College (DMT)
Bristol GS v KES Bath
Canford v Hampton (DMT)
Clifton College v Ellesmere College (DMT)
Cofle’s v Judd
Cranleigh v St John’s, Leatherhead (DMT)
Crossley Heath v Bradford GS (DMT)
Dartford GS v Cooper’s Coborn (NatWest Cup)
Daunstey’s v Churcher’s College
Dean Close v Magdalen College (DMT)
Downside v Monkton Combe
Dulwich College v Epsom College (DMT)
Durham v Grammar School at Leeds (DMT)
Felsted v Haileybury
Gunnersbury v Cardinal Vaughan
King Edward VI, Camp Hill v Bablake
King Henry VIII, Coventry v KES Stratford
King’s Macclesfield v RGS Lancaster (DMT)
Kingswood v Taunton
Kirkham GS v Wirral GS (DMT)
Langley Park v Chislehurst & Sidcup
Leys v Mill Hill
Lord Wandsworth College v Portsmouth GS
Lorreto v Fettes College
Loughborough v Trent College (DMT)
Marlborough College v Cheltenham College (DMT)
Merchant Taylors v Campion (DMT)
Norwich v Royal Hospital School
Nottingham HS v Bishop Vesey’s
Old Swinford Hospital v Monmouth (DMT)
The Oratory v Eton College
Oundle v Harrow (DMT)
Perse v Wymondham College
Plymouth College v Llandovery College
Prior Park College v King’s College, Taunton
Queen’s College, Taunton v King’s Bruton
Ratcliffe College v Princethorpe College
Reading Blue Coat v Halliford
Reed’s v RGS Guildford (DMT)
Reigate GS v Wallington CGS
RGS Colchester v Culford
RGS Newcastle v Sedbergh (DMT)
Rugby v Denstone College (DMT)
Sevenoaks v Sutton Valence
Shiplake College v Seaford College
Simon Langton v Eastbourne College
Sir Joseph Williamson’s v Cranbrook
Sir Thomas Rich’s v Northampton School for Boys (DMT)
Skinners’ v Whitgift (DMT)
Solihull v RGS Worcester (DMT)
St Albans v Haberdashers
St Ambrose College v Hutton GS
St Anselm’s v Cheadle Hulme
St Edward’s v Hereford Cathedral School
St George’s College, Weybridge v Pangbourne College
St Mary’s v Rydal Penrhos
St Peter’s, Gloucester v King’s Worcester (DMT)
Strathallan v Merchiston Castle
Uppingham v St Edward’s, Oxford (DMT)
Wellingborough v Wisbech GS
Wilmslow HS v Altrincham GS
Worksop College v Hymers College
Worth v Caterham (DMT)
Wrekin College v KES Aston
Wycliffe College v Christ College
Yarm v Silcoates
Friday 16th September
Barnard Castle v Dame Allan’s (DMT) – 18.30 at Darlington Mowden Park
St Olave’s v Ravens Wood
Stockport Grammar v Manchester Grammar (DMT) – 18.15 at Stockport RFC
Warminster v Wells Cathedral