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Schools Rugby Weekend Preview: Competitive and emotional weekend in store

After a huge midweek of schools rugby, the weekend is a slightly quieter on than last, with many schools off on exeats.

 

Nevertheless there is still a huge amount of rugby to be played and some incredibly exciting and competitive fixtures all around the country.

 

We begin this week’s preview, as ever, by looking at ten games that we think ought to be real highlights of the weekend, before then taking a look at some other key fixtures around the country.

 

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Focus On

 

Bishop Wordsworth’s v Clifton College

We picked Bishop Wordsworth’s as potential dark horses this year, thanks to the talents of the likes of Cadan Murley in their line up. So far they have performed well, but Clifton College will be undoubtedly their toughest test of the season so far.

Clifton are in flying form at the moment, having put over fifty on Ellesmere last weekend and beaten Monmouth on the opening weekend. A strong win here could see them really starting to charge up the Daily Mail Trophy table.

Prediction: Clifton College

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Cranleigh v Epsom College

Cranleigh showed their strength with a good win over a very promising St John’s Leatherhead side last weekend, following a narrow 6-3 loss to a Brighton College side that looks very handy indeed this year.

Epsom are going to be a tough challenge though, they have scored 79 points in their opening two games and conceded just seven. That might lead you to believe that they have had an easy start but their opponents have been St Paul’s and Dulwich College, hardly slouches, so this looks like being a side to keep a really close eye on.

Prediction: Epsom College

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Dulwich College v Harrow

This is a fascinating game. Dulwich’s results have not gone their way so far this season having lost to Wellington and Epsom, and then been knocked out on try countback in the Champions Trophy to Eton in midweek. However that does not tell the full story, for a start that is a seriously tough start to the season, secondly they hare reinventing their style of play, moving the ball around and offloading at will. It is exciting to watch, and is getting better and better with each passing week.

Harrow could be just a step too soon though, the north Londoners are in absolutely flying form this season, with a backline that is simply outrageous. They started off with a strong win over Felsted, but it was last week’s 47-0 crushing of Oundle that really made heads turn. This could be a very special Harrow team, and a win against Dulwich would be another excellent scalp.

Prediction: Harrow

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Oundle v Bromsgrove

As mentioned above, last week was tough for Oundle, really tough. That heavy defeat to Harrow and an earlier loss to Stamford means that they really need a win to kickstart their season.

If you are looking for a win, then the back to back NatWest Schools Cup champions would not be your first choice. However Bromsgrove themselves are in a bit of a sticky situation having lost their opening two games as well, albeit to two of the most fancied teams in the country, Bedford and Warwick. Like Oundle though, they need a win, and it will be very interesting to see if their confidence is shaken on their resolve hardened after a tough start.

Prediction: Bromsgrove

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RGS High Wycombe v John Fisher

Both of these sides have an even win/loss record so far this season, and both have played some really tough fixtures already. RGS arrive off the back of a defeat away at Millfield, but the week before they were outstanding in victory over Stowe at home.

John Fisher should arrive at RGS full of confidence having beaten Trinity last week, but they too have tasted defeat, losing to Hampton the week before. This game is always a bit of a classic, and is another of those fixtures that always seems to crop up at important times whether is 15s or 7s. It should be a classic, as always.

Prediction: RGS High Wycombe.

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Sedbergh v Myerscough College

Sedbergh’s tough yet brilliant start to the season continues on Saturday as they host AASE side Myerscough College. Sedbergh have already won three out of three this season, and not just any three, Marlborough, RGS Newcastle, and Whitgift, and also won the Tynedale Festival.

Myerscough are a tough outfit though and are performing well in the AASE league, challenging near the top of the Northern Conference. The Sale Sharks Academy affiliates are certainly going to be one of the toughest challenges for the men in Brown, however Sedbergh will also be one of Myerscough’s tougher opponents. It makes for a fascinating match.

Prediction: Sedbergh

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St John’s Leatherhead v Brighton College

Guided by their excellent fly half and captain, Marcus Smith, Brighton College are off to a fine start this season with two wins from two plus a superb pre season. They have shown that they can score tries in a 25-0 win over Hurstpierpoint and that they can grind it out, as they did to beat Cranleigh 6-3.

St John’s are another excellent side though, and are seemingly getting better and better. They opened their account with a big win over Wimbledon College but lost out narrowly to Cranleigh last weekend. That would suggest that Brighton probably just have they edge, the difference between the two against Cranleigh is just six points, and that suggest a very close game indeed on Saturday – one to look out for.

Prediction: Brighton College

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St Peter’s York v Durham

This is another great looking game, St Peter’s York have started the season in fine style, winning two from two including a simply outstanding 56-0 decimation at Ampleforth College last weekend.

A result like that is enough to strike fear into any opponent, but Durham are in decent form too, they had a good win over Grammar School at Leeds last weekend, though they lost at Kingston Park to RGS Newcastle the week before. They will need to be at their absolute best to keep out this St Peter’s side though, who are surely riding a huge wave of confidence.

Prediction: St Peter’s York

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Stowe v Stamford

This game could well be a test of who can recover mentally the fastest. Stamford must have had a tough week, on Saturday they lost to Oakham, ending an unbeaten home run that has stretched since November 2010. That will take some getting over. On the other hand, being away from home takes the pressure off somewhat, and they face a Stowe side that has lost their opening two games of the season.

That will mean that Stowe will be desperately wanting to change the momentum of their season, albeit that those losses have been against top schools, Warwick and RGS High Wycombe. Indeed they were only 3 points shy of Warwick, who are expected to be very very good this year.

Prediction: Stowe

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Whitgift v Wellington College

Forget the result here. The annual fixture between Whitgift and Wellington College will now be held in memory of the former pupil of both schools, Seb Adeniran-Olule. Seb tragically died earlier this year, he was a member of the Harlequins Senior Academy and helped Richmond to promotion to the Championship on dual registration. He had also represented England at U20 and U18 level.

The game will support The Sebastian Adeniran-Olule Charitable Fund, which has been established to provide educational and sporting opportunities for boys who wouldn’t normally be able to access them, and there is an online raffle to support it. For details, please follow this link: Seb Adeniran-Olule Charitable Fund.

On the field both sides are playing fantastic rugby, and ought to serve up a real treat on the pitch. In many ways that is the best tribute to Seb, who impressed in this fixture so often.

No Prediction.

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Around the Grounds

 

Elsewhere around the country there are some really excellent fixtures that should get the pulse racing. Berkhamsted v KCS Wimbledon looks like being one particularly good game. Berkhamsted have a lot expected of them this year, but KCS are performing well, and are always particularly good while the grounds are still hard.

 

Eastbourne College v King’s Canterbury interests us having seen King’s in action against Felsted. They were ragged early on but rallied and found their shape as the game progressed. If they can play like that they will do well, but if they are their more ragged version of themselves then a good Eastbourne side could take advantage.

 

Another side with plenty expected of them at the moment are Reigate Grammar but they have perhaps not quite hit the form they were hoping for yet. They will be hoping to do so at Eltham College on Saturday morning, but face a side playing tough rugby under Sam Howard and who are yet to lose this season.

 

Two side who have lit up the early part of the season are Blundell’s and Kirkham Grammar. Blundell’s face a tough trip away to King’s College Taunton, but with their early season form they will really fancy their chances. Kirkham are at home to St Ambrose College, who must be dreading this trip. Kirkham have been absolutely flying and right now it is hard to see anyone stopping them.

 

Hurstpierpoint v Reed’s has the makings of a good game, the two seem evenly matched at this stage of the season so it should be worth checking out if you are in the area. So too should Pocklington v Woodhouse Grove. Pocklington are off to a good start, and stuck 70 on Ashville College, but Woodhouse Grove are also in great form and beat the outstanding QEGS Wakefield last weekend.

 

QEGS Wakefield themselves have a good contest lined up this Saturday as they face King’s Macclesfield. The NatWest Cup finalists are the strong favourites, but King’s are always at their best in the big games and this is certainly one of those.

 

After a tough defeat to Epsom, St Paul’s bounced back in style with a win over Tiffin. Radley College are a different nut to crack altogether though and will be hurting after being knocked out of the Champions Trophy by Monmouth in midweek. It ought to be an excellent game and a fiercely contested one at that.

 

Two sides who continually creep under the radar but impress are Stonyhurst College and Bradford Grammar. Stonyhurst are almost always a top side, while Bradford Grammar were especially good last year, their start this year has been a little tougher, but expect a decent game on Saturday. Also worth paying attention to in the northern section is Wilmslow High School v Ellesmere College. Wilmslow are absolutely flying at the start of the season, and another big win here will keep them flying high at the top end of the Daily Mail Trophy.

 

All in all, another superb weekend of schools rugby looks set to unfold.

 

If you have any photos, reports, or videos from the weekend’s school rugby, please do send them into us via email (writers@fifteenrugby.com ), Facebook (www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby ), or via Twitter (@FifteenRugbyXV).

 

Schools Rugby Fixtures – Saturday 24th September (predictions in bold):

 

Focus On Fixtures:

 

Bishop Wordsworth’s v Clifton College

Cranleigh v Epsom College

Dulwich College v Harrow

Oundle v Bromsgrove

RGS High Wycombe v John Fisher

Sedbergh v Myerscough College

St John’s Leatherhead v Brighton College

St Peter’s York v Durham

Stowe v Stamford

Whitgift v Wellington College

 

Further Fixtures:

 

Austin Friars v Dame Allan’s

Aylesbury GS v Enfield GS

Bablake v Ratcliffe College

Berkhamsted v KCS Wimbledon

Bishop Stortford College v Culford

Bishop Vesey’s GS v Loughborough

Brentwood v Colfe’s

Canford v Portsmouth GS

Caterham v Emanuel

Cheadle Hulme v Calday Grange GS

Chislehurst & Sidcup GS v Sir Joseph Williamson’s

Christ Collge, Brecon v Plymouth College

Clayesmore v KES Southampton

Dartford GS v Langley Park

Eastbourne College v King’s Canterbury

Eltham College v Reigate GS

Eton College v Abingdon

Gravesend GS v Judd

Hampton v St Albans

Hurstpierpoint College v Reed’s

KES Aston v King Henry VIII Coventry

KES Bath v Dauntsey’s

King’s College, Taunton v Blundell’s

King’s Gloucester v Hereford Cathedral School

Kingswood v Bristol GS

Kirkham GS v St Ambrose College

Latymer Upper v UCS

The Leys v Langley

London Oratory v Wallington CGS

Magdalen College v Mill Hill

Maidstone GS v Cranbrook

Malvern College v Pate’s GS

Manchester GS v Merchant Taylors’ Crosby

Mount St Mary’s College v Hymers College

Nottingham HS v Worksop College

Norwich v St Joseph’s College

Pangbourne College v Lord Wandsworth College

Pocklington v Woodhouse Grove

Princethorpe College v Leicester GS

Queen’s College, Taunton v Shebbear College

QEGS Wakefield v King’s Macclesfield

Reading Blue Coat v City of London Freemen’s

RGS Colchester v Royal Hospital School

RGS Lancaster v Grammar School at Leeds

RGS Newcastle v Stewart’s Melville College

Rydal Penrhos v Giggleswick

Seaford College v Glyn

Silcoates v Ashville College

Solihull v Northampton School for Boys

St George’s College, Weybridge v St Benedict’s

St Olave’s v Skinners’

St Paul’s v Radley College

Stonyhurst College v Bradford GS

Taunton School v Wellington School

Trinity v Campion

Wellingborough v St Columba’s College

Wilmslow HS v Ellesmere College

Wimbledon College v RGS Guildford

Wirral GS v Stockport GS

Wisbech GS v King’s Ely

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