Schools Rugby Weekend Preview: Derby fixtures and season defining fixtures ahead

Another fascinating weekend of schools rugby awaits us, and if the last few are the standard to go by, we can expect some outstanding games of rugby.

 

The fixture list is a little shortened this week following a number of midweek games and a lot of schools taking this weekend as an exeat weekend. Nevertheless, those fixtures being played offer plenty of excitement.

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Focus On

 

Brighton College v Eastbourne College

Brighton College are among the very best teams in the country, they are unbeaten and are a fixture in the top 10 of the Daily Mail Trophy. Last weekend they narrowly beat Epsom College, the Champions Trophy semi finalists, and this week they again start as favourites. However Eastbourne College are enjoying one of their best seasons for a few years, they have won every game bar two, only losing to Tonbridge and St John’s Leatherhead, so expect a strong challenge against Brighton on Saturday.

Prediction: Brighton College.

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Bromsgrove v RGS High Wycombe

The back to back NatWest Cup champions had a slow start to the season, but since defeat to Millfield in early October they have been back in form, with five wins in a row. They face an RGS side who are without a win since before half term, however the strength of their fixture list means that they have they advantage of being used to these high level fixtures. We should expect a superb game of rugby her, Bromsgrove are on the rise, while RGS traditionally get better and better as the season gets on.

Prediction: Bromsgrove.

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Cheltenham College v Monmouth

Cheltenham are a side in fine form, they have won their last three games in a row, including a fantastic 20-3 victory over Stowe last week. They will have to be at their best once again this weekend though against Monmouth. They Welsh side are a good team, but have lost their last two games, to Bromsgrove and Oakham. A win here would send them back into form, while a win for Cheltenham would be another real signal of a successful season.

Prediction: Cheltenham College

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Dulwich College v Whitgift

Dulwich have been having a tough season, but bounced back in style last weekend with a thumping win over John Fisher. That will send them into this weekend packed full of confidence. This weekend will provide one of the sternest tests of the season though as they face Whitgift, one of the toughest sides around. Whitgift have lost just twice all season, narrowly to Sedbergh and Warwick, two of the best around. They will fancy themselves to win this game, but will be aware that Dulwich’s win over John Fisher was much greater than their own win over their closest rivals.

Prediction: Whitgift.

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Durham v Woodhouse Grove

Woodhouse Grove, the 2013 Daily Mail Trophy Champions, are in flying form this season and have only lost to St Peter’s York and to QEGS Wakefield, in the NatWest Cup. They sit in the Top 10 of the Daily Mail Trophy table and are among the best in the region. Durham’s challenge is therefore a big one, but they are traditionally one of the strongest sides in the area. They have lost to the other big teams this season, but also have some huge victories to their name, and will fancy that if they get it right they could sneak a win. For Woodhouse Grove it will be a case of keeping concentration and keeping that tremendous form going.

Prediction: Woodhouse Grove.

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Hampton v Bishop Wordsworth’s

A midweek win saw Bishop Wordsworth’s into the NatWest Cup quarter finals, and it was no surprise to see, the South West side have been among the very best in the country. They have lost just once, and even that was by a solitary point to Clifton College, who are riding high in fourth place in the Daily Mail Trophy. Hampton will be a test though, they are used to facing strong opposition and competing hard, as they showed last week in frustrating Wellington College for long periods, though eventually losing 12-0. They have claimed some big scalps this season, including John Fisher and RGS High Wycombe, and they secured the Plate trophy at the St Joseph’s Festival. Bishop Wordsworth’s will be a huge test though, and Wiltshire side will be desperate for a win that could help them nearer to a top 10 Daily Mail finish.

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Radley College v Abingdon

This fixture is a classic on the school calendar, the Abingdon derby, with both schools located within close proximity. This year Abingdon are the likely favourites, they had an unbeaten and flying start to the season, however they have lost their last three games in a row. Those defeats, however, do not tell the full story, they have come against three top teams in Sherborne, Kirkham Grammar School, and Rugby School, whom they only lost to 3-0. Radley College meanwhile have just the one win to their name this season, however last weekend they were also involved in a very narrow game, drawing 3-3 with Marlborough College. Abingdon will be firm favourites, but in a big derby like this all bets are off.

Prediction: Abingdon

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Sedbergh v Warwick

This one of the biggest games of the season. Sedbergh are always one of the best in the country and they remain so this year, they sit second in the Daily Mail Trophy table and are unbeaten so far this season. Warwick are formidable though, they are one of the favourites for the NatWest Cup with their team of U15 winners, they have lost just twice, narrowly to Abingdon and a 3-0 defeat to Champions Trophy holders Bedford. That suggests that we are in for a bit of a classic fixture here. It is possibly more important for Sedbergh though, they have arguably their biggest game of the season next week, v Kirkham, and a defeat here might rock their momentum. That makes this game vital.

Prediction: Sedbergh.

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St John’s Leatherhead v Haileybury

St John’s are playing some of their best rugby of the last few years this season, with just three defeats to absolutely top class teams, Epsom College, Brighton College, and Cranleigh. They will be the favourites on Saturday, but Haileybury are a side that are playing some stunning rugby themselves this season. The Hertforshire side gave Harrow a real fright at Allianz Park earlier in the season, almost coming from behind to secure the win before eventually falling away. That was one of just two defeats all season, the other being at Stamford, and they will be determined not to make it three on Saturday.

Prediction: St John’s.

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St Peter’s York v Barnard Castle

St Peter’s are having a stunning season, they are sitting in the Top 10 of the Daily Mail Trophy, and have lost just once all season, to the NatWest Cup finalists, QEGS Wakefield. Barnard Castle are also having a fantastic year, they have lost just three games, with Sedbergh, Woodhouse Grove, and RGS Newcastle being the only sides to stop them. Perhaps most interestingly in the context of this game though are the sides they have beaten, which include the only side to defeat St Peter’s, QEGS Wakefield. All the signs point to this being a superb game of rugby.

Prediction: St Peter’s York, just.

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Around the Grounds

 

Our ‘Focus On’ fixtures are far from the only big games on Saturday. In Yorkshire there is a big derby between Bradford Grammar and QEGS Wakefield, QEGS are the strong favourites, but this is a big game and should see some exciting rugby.

 

Bryanston suffered a huge defeat to Clifton College last week and have been having some real struggles this season, that makes Saturday’s game against Portsmouth Grammar a huge fixture for them, a win would steady the ship, a defeat really would hurt.

 

John Fisher are another side looking to bounce back after a tough defeat, they face a resurgent Campion in a game they will be desperate to win. There is a massive game between Caterham and St George’s College Weybridge, two sides enjoying successful seasons.

 

Stamford travel for what should be an exciting game against Denstone College, while Felsted prepare for their big NatWest Cup game against Whitgift next week with a fixture at home to Royal Hospital School.

 

There are two fantastic games in the North of England, as Ampleforth College travel to Giggleswick and Grammar School at Leeds host Hymers College. Further South, Hurstpierpoint College host an in form KCS Wimbledon, who were impressive on Friday night last week against Shiplake College.

 

After their brilliant win against Trinity last week, Tiffin will be confident of victory this week away at Langley Park.

 

RGS Guildford v Epsom College ought to be an interesting game, Epsom should be strong favourites but after an incredibly tough midweek game against Bedford, they might well rest a few players.

 

A very much in form St Paul’s side host a Berkhamsted side that pose plenty of danger in what could be one of the games of the weekend in the South, while Stowe will hope to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Cheltenham when they travel to Uppingham.

 

There is a big derby in Reading too as Reading School travel to Reading Blue Coat in what is sure to be a keenly contested derby game.

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Friday

 

There are three games under the lights on Friday night. In the South West Beechen Cliff, who in midweek prevented Hartpury College from reaching the AASE League final for the first time in history, take on a KES Bath side that are enjoying one of their finest seasons.

 

Towards London St Benedict’s are in action once again on a Friday, this time taking on Trinity in a game that the Ealing side will really fancy their chances in, while along the round Merchant Taylors’ are hosting Shiplake College as part of their rugby week, that has seen James Haskell give a talk and Chris Ashton and Schalk Brits host training sessions, for Shiplake it is a second Friday night game in a row, they lost to KCS Wimbledon last week.

 

All in all, another superb weekend of schools rugby awaits!

 

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

 

 

Schools Rugby Weekend Fixtures (predictions in bold):

Focus On

Brighton College v Eastbourne College

Bromsgrove v RGS High Wycombe

Cheltenham College v Monmouth

Dulwich College v Whitgift

Durham v Woodhouse Grove

Hampton v Bishop Wordsworth’s

Radley College v Abingdon

Sedbergh v Warwick

St John’s Leatherhead v Haileybury

St Peter’s York v Barnard Castle

 

Around the Grounds

Bedford Modern v St Albans

Birkenhead v Rydal Penrhos

Bishop’s Stortford College v Framlingham College

Bloxham v Bishop Vesey’s GS

Bradford GS v QEGS Wakefield

Brentwood v Bishop’s Stortford HS

Bristol GS v Colston’s

Bryanston v Portsmouth GS

Campion v John Fisher

Caterham v St George’s College, Weybridge

Churcher’s College v KES Southampton

City of London Freemen’s v Reigate GS

Cranbrook v Dartford GS

Halliford v Wallington CGS

Dauntsey’s v Kingswood

Denstone College v Stamford

Felsted v Royal Hospital School

Giggleswick v Ampleforth College

Grammar School at Leeds v Hymers College

Hereford Cathedral School v RGS Worcester

Hurstpierpoint College v KCS Wimbledon

Hutton GS v Cheadle Hulme

Isleworth & Syon v Cardinal Vaughan

KES Birmingham v Loughborough

King’s College Taunton v Exeter School

King Henry VIII, Coventry v Ratcliffe College

King’s Macclesfield v Wilmslow HS

King’s Worcester v Malvern College

Langley Park v Tiffin

Latymer Upper v Colfe’s

Leicester GS v Langley

London Oratory v Wimbledon College

Lord Wandsworth College v Seaford College

Magdalen College v KES Stratford

Manchester GS v Altrincham GS

Mill Hill v Emanuel

New Hall v Eltham College

North Berwick v Loretto

Northampton SfB v King’s Grantham

Norwich v The Perse

Pocklington v Yarm

Prior Park College v King’s Bruton

Queen’s College Taunton v QEH

Ravens Wood v Chislehurst & Sidcup GS

Reading Blue Coat v Reading

RGS Colchester v St Joseph’s College

RGS Guildford v Epsom College

RGS Newcastle v Dame Allan’s

Sir Thomas Rich’s v Pate’s GS

Skinners’ v Reed’s

Solihull v Nottingham HS

Stafford v Bablake

St Ambrose College v Sandbach

St Paul’s v Berkhamsted

St Olave’s v Judd

Stockport GS v Bolton

Uppingham v Stowe

Watford GS v UCS

Wellingborough v Princethorpe College

West Buckland v Plymouth College

Wisbech GS v Worksop College

 

Friday

KES Bath v Beechen Cliff

Merchant Taylors’ v Shiplake College

St Benedict’s v Trinity

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