The Champions Trophy returns this week for the second round, following an exciting first round a fortnight ago.
We are quickly down to the last sixteen stage, with the quarter finals being played after half term. There are actually only fifteen teams in the second round though, with Monmouth School having a bye, meaning that there are just seven fixtures next week in the Champions Trophy.
Those are spread across Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and look set to be seven top class fixtures.
Tuesday sees three fixtures takes place, with the round kicking off at 14.30 with a game between Epsom College and St John’s Leatherhead. It ought to be a tremendous game, with added spice because it is a local derby. Epsom College were finalists last year, earning a first round bye this year, and have looked impressive in their Saturday fixtures this year. So have St John’s though, who have taken some notable scalps and been involved in some thrilling games. They beat Cranbrook 19-36 to reach the last 16.
We then move to Eton College for the 15.00 kick off, which sees the most famous of public schools host the finalists of the inaugural tournament in 2014, Grammar School at Leeds. Eton squeaked through by the skin of their teeth after a 17-17 draw with Dulwich College, going through on try count, while Grammar School at Leeds beat Uppingham 25-17.
Tuesday’s final game takes place at 15.30 as Bristol Grammar School host Blundell’s. Bristol came through in the most dramatic of circumstances. They were 29-5 down to Sherborne at one stage in the first round, but fought back for a 29-29 draw to progress on try count. It was staggering stuff, the sort that this competition has become famous for. Blundell’s, meanwhile, had a bye. They reached the semi finals last year, playing some magnificent rugby along the way, and they have started this season in similarly impressive fashion.
Wednesday is another busy day, with three more Champions Trophy games. It begins at 14.15 with an exciting game between Tonbridge and Millfield, two sides who epitomise the point of the Trophy, having not entered a national cup at U18 level prior to it. Millfield won the inaugural title in 2014, and on the way played a thriller at home to Tonbridge. It was one of the best games of schools rugby that this writer has seen, and the prospect of a rematch, even if two years later, is mouthwatering. This is a must watch game.
It is followed by another cracking game as the reigning Champions, Bedford, travel to St Paul’s. St Paul’s beat RGS Guildford 20-5 to reach this stage, while Bedford had a bye, as champions. Bedford ought to be favourites, but following a tough start to the year v Epsom, St Paul’s have been in good form, while last weekend Bedford lost for the first time in a year. Keep an eye on this one, there is nothing quite like seeing the champions in action for the first time, in any competition.
The side that beat Bedford last weekend was Oakham, who look a great prospect this year and got to the last 16 with a brilliant 38-7 victory over a Berkhamsted side that much was expected of. They host Clifton College at 15.15 on Wednesday, and this could be another classic. Clifton had a first round bye, but already look like being one of the very best sides in the business this year. The winner of this one could go very far indeed.
There is just the one game on Thursday, what with Monmouth having a bye following their first round 21-13 win over Radley College. That game sees Canford host Kingswood at 14.45. Once again this could be excellent, Canford recorded the biggest winning margin of the first round as they saw off Marlborough College by a stunning 57-10 margin. They will be challenged by Kingswood though, who were highly impressive in their 20-7 victory over Bryanston.
Once again, the quality of fixtures only serves to highlight just why this tournament is so popular. It produces great match-ups, superb games of rugby, and some outstanding drama. It really is a thrilling tournament from start to finish.
Champions Trophy Round 2 Fixtures:
Bristol GS v Blundell’s – Tuesday 15.30
Canford v Kingswood – Thursday 14.45
Epsom College v St John’s Leatherhead – Tuesday 14.30
Eton College v Grammar School at Leeds – Tuesday 15.00
Monmouth – BYE
Oakham v Clifton College – Wednesday 15.15
St Paul’s v Bedford – Wednesday 14.30
Tonbridge v Millfield – Wednesday 14.15
Champions Trophy Round 1 Results:
Bristol GS 29-29 Sherborne
Bedford – Bye
Blundell’s – Bye
Canford 57-10 Marlborough College
Clifton College – Bye
Cranlbrook 19-36 St John’s Leatherhead
Dulwich College 17-17 Eton College
Epsom College – Bye
Grammar School at Leeds 25-17 Uppingham
Kingswood 20-7 Bryanston
Millfield – Bye
Monmouth 21-13 Radley College
Oakham 38-7 Berkhamsted
St Paul’s 20-5 RGS Guildford
Tonbridge 28-22 Hampton
Quarter Finals – 31st October-5th November
Semi Finals – 14th November-19th November
Finals – Wednesday 30th November