The draw for the 2016 St Joseph’s Festival has been made.
2016 marks the 30th Anniversary of the Festival, which over those 30 years has become one of the most popular, important, and high quality competitions in all of schoolboy rugby. It takes place over the course of Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th October, with the evening of the 16th also seeing St Joseph’s celebrate the 30 year anniversary with an Old Boys’ event.
Last year Hampton School picked up the silverware, and they are drawn in a tough Group 2 alongside St Peter’s Gloucester, Denstone College, and one of the big hitters in this year’s tournament, Brighton College.
The Champions will open their account at 09.40 on Saturday 15th October, the second round of fixtures of the tournament.
The hosts, St Joseph’s College, are in Group 4, away from their usual Group 1 as rather than playing in the opening game as usual, they are playing the final game of the day as a lead in to their Old Boys events. They face a very tricky task though, with 2011 Champions Dulwich College, the 2016 NatWest Cup finalists, QEGS Wakefield, and Eltham College, who have Dulwich College’s coach from that victorious year, Sam Howard, masterminding their pathway this year.
Millfield are perennial winners of this competition and they are rewarded for that consistency, which saw them win most recently in 2014, with a place in Group 1 and the opening fixture of the tournament on Pitch 1 against RGS Newcastle. Joining those two in Group 1 are two others who will certainly be a big threat, the in form Cranleigh and John Fisher, who are real specialists in tournament play and building through a competition.
Group 2 has a real international flavour to it, with Merchiston Castle making the trip from Scotland, and Whitchurch High School coming across from Wales. It also includes Gordon’s School and another of the sides with a great history at this tournament, RGS High Wycombe.
The competition format sees the winners and runners up of each Group go through to the Festival group stage on Sunday, with the bottom two sides into the Plate group stage. From there the winners of the two Festival Groups will meet in the Festival Final, and the two Plate group winners will meet in the Plate Final.
Top of Group 1 and 2 will meet second in Group 3 and 4 in their group, with Top in 3 and 4 meeting second in 1 and 2 in theirs.
As ever, it should be a stunning weekend of schools rugby, with some outstanding rugby being played, a wonderful atmosphere, and a feeling of great history too. It truly is one of the best weekend’s on the schools rugby calendar and we will be there live throughout.