Schools Rugby Weekend Preview: Defining weekend of the season as major teams go head to head

After a thrilling week of rugby that has seen the Champions Trophy finalists decided and the NatWest Cup quarter finals drawn, we head into a weekend that should be equally exciting.

 

There are some huge games and many have an extra layer of intrigue with teams having played in midweek and having further midweek fixtures next week, will they be able to make that intensity stretch through Saturday and into the next week?

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Focus On

 

Clifton College v Bromsgrove

A huge fixture. Clifton have consistently proven this season to be among the best in the business, as their lofty position in the Daily Mail Trophy suggests. Week after week they have performed with huge intensity, their only defeat coming in the Champions Trophy to Oakham. Bromsgrove, in contrast started the season slowly but since then have been on the rise as they chase a third straight NatWest Cup title. This should be a superb game of rugby, home advantage and their remarkable consistency may just give Clifton the edge.

Prediction: Clifton College.

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Dulwich College v Tonbridge

Traditionally speaking this is one of the biggest schools rugby matches of the season. This year though Tonbridge have been out performing Dulwich, who have won just the one game, albeit a stunner against John Fisher. Tonbridge would therefore be expected to win this weekend, however hope for Dulwich will lie in the fact that Tonbridge faced a huge battle against Oakham on Tuesday in the Champiosn Trophy semi final and will want to avoid any risk of injury ahead of next week’s final, that could just leave the Kent side vulnerable.

Prediction: Tonbridge.

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Eton College v St Paul’s

This is a classic fixture between two of the oldest and most famous schools in the country. Both have been playing some impressive rugby this season, with some excellent results, and perhaps more impressively some very very close games against some of the very best teams in the country. This ought to be another close game, Eton perhaps just have the edge, but as St Paul’s have shown plenty of times this season, that really does not affect them. This will be one to keep an eye on.

Prediction: Eton College.

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Harrow v Wellington College

This is one of the biggest three or four games of the entire season. Harrow and Wellington College are without doubt two of the very best teams in the country this season and both are challenging hard for the Daily Mail Trophy title, defeat on Saturday might well spell the end of that challenge for the loser, though there is still a long way left to go. Home advantage will help Harrow, as will the fact that Wellington have midweek games either side of this fixture, but either way, this is going to be one of the biggest games of the entire season.

Prediction: Harrow, just.

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John Fisher v Brighton College

These two sides know each other well and have had some fantastic games down the years. This year Brighton College will start as favourites, they sit high in the Daily Mail Trophy and are right up there with the best in the country. John Fisher, meanwhile, have been having to work hard this season to maintain their usual standards. They come into this on the back of a tough defeat to Judd in the NatWest Cup, they will therefore be determined to bounce back in impressive fashion against Brighton, but against one of the best in the country, it is a tough ask. Never write them off though.

Prediction: Brighton College.

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Millfield v Whitgift

Yet another huge game in this busy weekend. These are two of the most famous rugby schools in the country, two sides who have produced four of Saturday’s starting England XV, Mako Vunipola, Chris Robshaw, and Jonathan Joseph from Millfield, and Elliot Daly from Whitgift, with Marland Yarde of Whitgift having started against South Africa. That just shows the level of talent that these schools have produced and continue to produce. Saturday should be a superb game, early in the season Whitgift were in much the better form, but Millfield are now playing some superb rugby. Whitgift will be determined to hit back after a shock defeat to Felsted in the Cup in midweek, adding to what should be a classic encounter.

Prediction: Millfield, just.

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Oakham v Uppingham

The Rutland derby has always been a huge game, and this should be no different. Oakham gave Uppingham a real lesson earlier in the season, but the away side will be hugely determined to avoid that this weekend. They are also in far better form now, having beaten Stowe last weekend. Oakham though are determined to secure victory, even in the moments after their defeat to Tonbridge in the Champions Trophy semi final on Tuesday, the talk on the touchlines was all of Saturday’s encounter with their local rivals. Expect a huge performance from the men in black.

Prediction: Oakham

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Sherborne v Hampton

This should be another very interesting encounter, last week Hampton hosted another high flying team from the South West in the form of Bishop Wordsworth’s. They performed outstandingly well to beat them, however on Saturday it is they who make the trip to face a very much in form Sherborne side who have been playing some excellent rugby. It all adds up to make this a truly fascinating game, and one that would be well worth getting along to if you find yourself in the area.

Prediction: Sherborne.

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St John’s Leatherhead v KCS Wimbledon

St John’s have been in superb form this year, only losing three games all season, and those two three of the best around. They are the strong favourites on Saturday but face a KCS Wimbledon side who are well known for raising their game against the best and giving them a tough time. It’s a big game for both though, with both sides wanting to make sure that they close out the season on a high.

Prediction: St John’s.

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Woodhouse Grove v Kirkham Grammar School

Another absolutely massive game between two sides who are right up there in the Daily Mail Trophy table. Woodhouse Grove, the 2013 champions have lost just once this season, while Kirkham Grammar School are unbeaten. Kirkham are also coming off the back of a victory over Sedbergh for the third year in a row, putting themselves right in the frame for a challenge at the title. This game will be vital in that charge, for both sides, and ought to make for a stunning game of rugby.

Prediction: Kirkham Grammar.

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Around the Grounds

 

Fresh from their victory in their derby last week, Abingdon host RGS Guildford in what should be another good game of rugby. Bedford meanwhile prepare for the Champions Trophy final with a game against Northampton School for Boys with a number of key players likely to be rested, it could make for an interesting game.

 

Fresh from securing finding out their NatWest Cup quarter final opponents, Bishop Wordsworth’s host Marlborough College in a game that they will fancy their chances of recovering from last week’s loss to Hampton in.

 

Bristol Grammar School have a hastily arranged fixture against St Peter’s Gloucester after their game against QEGS was cancelled, for a last minute fixture it looks a good one, and should be competitive.

 

King Edward’s Southampton face a local derby that they will expect a good win in over Hampshire Collegiate, who faced a tough loss against Lord Wandsworth College in midweek.

 

Judd were in fantastic form in midweek as they beat John Fisher to reach the NatWest Cup quarter finals, their next challenge is an away trip to Langley Park on Saturday. Over in Reading St George’s Weybridge travel to Reading Blue Coat, while St George’s rivals, Reed’s, host Wimbledon College in what should be a superb game.

 

Reigate Grammar School were on flying form in the NatWest Plate in midweek and will be hoping to continue that form on Saturday at home to Sevenoaks. Moving north there is a great looking fixture as RGS Lancaster host RGS Newcastle.

 

Rugby School are performing outstandingly well this season and have been in the Top 10 of the Daily Mail Trophy for a number of weeks. Berkhamsted will pose a test for them but, given their performances this season, Rugby should be confident.

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Seaford College host Pangbourne College, another game that should provide plenty of excitement. Meanwhile in West London St Benedict’s host RGS High Wycombe, both have played some fantastic rugby in the last few weeks, meaning that this should be a superb game.

 

Friday

 

There are two games under the lights on Friday. Merchant Taylors’ play their second Friday night game in a row after a big win over Shiplake College last week. Haberdashers’ are up next for them, and should make for another exciting Friday night.

 

The second game sees Denstone College face St Joseph’s College, another game that could be a classic. Both have had up and down seasons and should be well matched under the lights on Friday.

 

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

 

Clifton College v Bromsgrove

Dulwich College v Tonbridge

Eton College v St Paul’s

Harrow v Wellington College

John Fisher v Brighton College

Millfield v Whitgift

Oakham v Uppingham

Sherborne v Hampton

St John’s Leatherhead v KCS Wimbledon

Woodhouse Grove v Kirkham GS

 

Around the Grounds

 

Abingdon v RGS Guildford

Ashville College v Bradford GS

Aylesbury GS v Watford GS

Bablake v Lawrence Sheriff

Bedford v Northampton School for Boys

Beechen Cliff v QEH

Bishop Vesey’s GS v King’s Worcester

Bishop Wordsworth’s v Marlborough College

Blundell’s v Plymouth College

Bristol GS v St Peter’s Gloucester

Calday Grange v Wilmslow HS

Campion v Dartford GS

Caterham v Tiffin

Cheadle Hulme v Manchester GS

City of London Freemen’s v Portsmouth GS

Cokethorpe v KES Stratford

Duke of York’s RMS v St Dunstan’s College

Durham v Dame Allan’s

Eltham College v Cranbrook

Emanuel v Colfe’s

Exeter School v Taunton

Fettes College v Glasgow Academy

Grammar School at Leeds v Stockport GS

Gravesend GS v Wallington CGS

Halliford v Churcher’s College

Hurstpierpoint College v Christ’s Hospital

Hymers College v Birkdale

Ipswich v RGS Colchester

KES Southampton v Hampshire Collegiate

King’s Canterbury v Worth

Kingswood v King’s College, Taunton

Langley Park v Judd

Magdalen College v The Oratory

Maidstone GS v St Olave’s GS

Newcastle School for Boys v Austin Friars

Nottingham HS v Bedford Modern

Queen Ethelburga’s v Crossley Heath

Ratcliffe College v Welbeck

Reading Blue Coat v St George’s College, Weybridge

Reed’s v Wimbledon College

Reigate GS v Sevenoaks

RGS Lancaster v RGS Newcastle

RGS Worcester v Pate’s GS

Robert Clack v Wisbech GS

Royal Hospital School v Cooper’s Coborn

Rugby v Berkhamsted

Seaford College v Pangbourne College

Shrewsbury v Rydal Penrhos

Sir Thomas Rich’s v Loughborough

Skinners’ v Chislehurst & Sidcup GS

St Albans v Stamford

St Ambrose College v St Anselm’s College

St Benedict’s v RGS High Wycombe

St Columba’s College v QES Barnet

Stonyhurst College v King’s Macclesfield

Trent College v Solihull

Trinity v London Oratory

UCS v Gunnersbury

Wellingborough v King Henry VIII Coventry

Windsor Boys v Claire’s Court

Wycliffe College v Wellington

Wymondham College v Norwich

 

Friday

 

Denstone College v St Joseph’s College

Merchant Taylors’ v Haberdashers’

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