A huge week of schools rugby awaits us, with perhaps the biggest prize in schools rugby at stake, the Champions Trophy on Friday afternoon.
Before that though there is plenty else on to get excited about, with NatWest Cup quarter final, some fantastic evening kick offs, and exciting match ups.
The action kicks off on Tuesday with the County Cup in Hertfordshire, where the impressive Haileybury head to Bishop’s Stortford College. There is also big action in Wales, where they ever strong Monmouth host Christ’s College Brecon.
There are two huge games in the NatWest Cup as the quarter finals kick off. The back to back champions, Bromsgrove, are hosting Sir Thomas Rich’s. The two sides have, obviously, been in great form in the Cup, an come into this game after good wins at the weekend. Sir Thomas Rich’s beat Loughborough, but perhaps even more impressive was Bromsgrove winning away at Clifton College, who are among the best in the country.
The other Cup quarter final on Wednesday sees the outstanding Manchester Grammar School host the shock winners from the last round against Whitgift, Felsted. Manchester Grammar are having a flying season, but the story in this quarter final is that it is Felsted and not Whitgift who are playing after that brilliant 10-8 last 16 victory for Felsted against the odds, can they repeat the trick on Wednesday?
There are also two quarter finals in the Plate taking place on Wednesday. Regiate Grammar School were in stunning form against Downside in the last 16, and topped that off with a big win against Sevenoaks on Saturday. They host St Columba’s College for what should be a top class game of rugby.
The second quarter final sees Solihull, a side who made big strides in the Cup in recent years, host Wimbledon College, who came through an incredibly tight last 16 game against Richard Collyer last week. Expect a similarly tough game this week.
The Vase is a few rounds behind but also sees some exciting fixtures. London Oratory host Seevic, but perhaps the biggest game in the Vase sees St George’s College Weybridge host a Sevenoaks side who will be reeling from their tough defeat to Reigate Grammar at the weekend.
There is one game scheduled in the Bowl as Wycliffe College host Bridgwater College as they fight for a place in the next round.
There is no doubt as to what the biggest game outside of the Cup fixtures on Wednesday, it is the evening kick off at Broadstreet RFC between the back to back Daily Mail Trophy champions and current leaders in the table, Wellington College, and the team lying third and one of the hottest contenders for the title, Sedbergh. Coming off the back of a loss to Kirkham though, Sedbergh really do need the win here to stay in contention, while a loss for Wellington College would bring the likes of Harrow, Kirkham, Clifton, and of course Sedbergh back into contention. It could be, and previously has been, an absolute classic.
There are plenty of other big games around the country too, Woodhouse Grove look to bounce back from defeat to Kirkham as they host Ashville College, while in another massive game King’s Macclesfield travel to Stockport Grammar.
Former NatWest Cup finalists Old Swinford Hospital are away at Tettenhall and St John’s College host Hampshire Collegiate, with Bablake travelling to Solihull 6th form College.
Bolton travel to Rossall, while in the Midlands there is a big game as Leicester Grammar host King’s Grantham. In London Emanuel host Tiffin, while Hayes travel to Colfe’s. Guildford County School face the massive prospect of a trip to Cranleigh.
There is further action as Maidstone Grammar travel to Chatham & Clarendon, and Crypt host Chosen Hill. Christ’s Hospital meanwhile host Glyn.
The big game on Thursday sees the excellent Canford 1st XV host a Bryanston side who have been really struggling. Trent College are also in action, they host Hill House, while Dover Grammar host St Lawrence College and Latymer Upper travel to Enfield Grammar.
The biggest game on Friday, indeed probably the biggest game of the season is the Champions Trophy final at Allianz Park. The game sees the defending champions, Bedford, face one of the oldest rugby playing sides in the country, Tonbridge. The game should be a real schools rugby classic, these two sides are among the best around and are playing some great rugby. Both sides came through bruising semi finals, Bedford having to come from behind against an incredibly physical Epsom College side, while Tonbridge had to battle through against an Oakham side who showed some brilliant defensive tenacity.
Which way will it go? It is a tough one to call, either side could take it. The plastic surface at Allianz Park may just play into Bedford’s hands, they like to play a slightly wider game, using their back row in the wide channels, while Tonbridge tend to prefer to play around their huge tight five.
Whatever happens, it will be fascinating!
There is one other game on Friday evening as St John’s Leatherhead, coming off a massive win over KCS Wimbledon at the weekend, play Eltham College, who scored in the last play of their game on Saturday to secure the win. St John’s will fancy themselves as favourites, but Eltham College will make life tough for them.
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Schools Rugby Midweek Fixtures (predictions in bold):
Bishop’s Stortford College v Haileybury
Monmouth v Christ’s College
Bromsgrove v Sir Thomas Rich’s – NatWest Cup Quarter Final
Chatham & Clarendon v Maidstone Grammar
Christ’s Hopsital v Glyn
Colfe’s v Hayes
Cranleigh v Guildford County School
Crypt v Chosen Hill
Duke of York’s RMS v King’s Rochester
Emanuel v Tiffin
Leicester GS v King’s Grantham
London Oratory v Seevic – NatWest Vase
Manchester Grammar v Felsted – NatWest Cup Quarter Final
Reigate Grammar v St Columba’s College – NatWest Plate Quarter Final
Rossall v Bolton
Sedbergh v Wellington College
Solihull v Wimbledon College – NatWest Plate Quarter Final
Solihull 6th form College v Bablake
St George’s College, Weybridge v Sevenoaks – NatWest Vase
St John’s College v Hampshire Collegiate
Stockport Grammar v King’s Macclesfield
Tettenhall v Old Swinford Hospital
Woodhouse Grove v Ashville College
Wycliffe College v Bridgwater College – NatWest Bowl
Canford v Bryanston
Dover GS v St Lawrence College
Enfield GS v Latymer Upper
Trent College v Hill House
Bedford v Tonbridge – Champions Trophy Final – Allianz Park, 14.30
Eltham College v St John’s Leatherhead