Schools Rugby Weekend Preview: Huge weekend as the season nears its close

As December arrives, the school term is drawing to a close. However the schools rugby keeps coming thick and fast.

 

The Daily Mail Trophy is entering its final stages, in all likelihood Wellington College will win it for the third year in a row. As the saying goes though, it’s not over until the fat lady sings, and we are still a couple of rounds away from those vocal chords opening up, they are certainly well warmed up though.

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Focus On

 

Brighton College v Hampton

This is Brighton College’s final game of the term and they will be desperate to win it. They sit fifth in the table, unbeaten this season, and are among the very best in the country. A win here could see them climb even higher, and finish with one of their most successful seasons ever. Hampton will put the pressure on though, they have top ten ambitions to play for. Their season has been up and down, they have had some impressive results but against the very best they have just been edged out. They will want to change that come Saturday.

Prediction: Brighton College.

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Cheltenham College v Sherborne

This is one of the oldest fixtures in schools rugby, and fittingly it is played this year between two sides who have been playing some excellent rugby. Sherborne’s season has been up and down, but in recent weeks they have beaten both Abingdon and Hampton, a real sign of strength, while Cheltenham College are on a four game winning streak and another win here could see them jump into the Top 20 of the Daily Mail Trophy.

Prediction: Cheltenham College.

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Ellesmere College v Denstone College

This is a huge game for these two schools, it is the oldest fixture on their calendars so it comes loaded with history. Denstone’s season was heading towards having more defeats than victories, however two highly impressive victories in the last two weeks have changed the tone completely. They put over thirty points past both Stamford and St Joseph’s College, and will be eyeing this fixture up for three in a row. Ellesemere have also had a bit of an up and down season, but found real form last week against Calday Grange. In a big historic derby like this tough, expect form to go out of the window, this should be a top game of rugby.

Prediction: Denstone College.

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King’s Macclesfield v Kirkham Grammar School

This is always a good game of rugby but it will be a tough outing for King’s Macclesfield this year once again as they face one of the very best teams in the country in Kirkham Grammar School. Kirkham beat both Sedbergh and Woodhouse Grove last week and are undefeated on these shores this season, their only defeat coming on tour to Blackrock College, who are among the best in the world. King’s lost in the County Cup to Stockport Grammar in midweek but were on a four game winning streak beforehand and will be hoping to carry that form on. Kirkham will be in no mood to let that unbeaten record slip though.

Prediction: Kirkham Grammar School.

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Monmouth v Millfield

Millfield are on strong form against Welsh opposition this season having comprehensively beaten both Coleg Sir Gar and Llandovery College. They will therefore travel to face their third Welsh side of the season full of confidence, particularly having broken into the top 10 of the Daily Mail Trophy having gone undefeated since half term. Monmouth are in good recent form though, having won their last two games but will have to step up even further if they are to beat the men with the blue stripe this weekend.

Prediction: Millfield.

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Radley College v Harrow

This is Harrow’s final game of the term, and it has been a hugely impressive term. They have proven themselves to be one of the best teams in the country, sit second in the Daily Mail Trophy table, and have lost just once. Unfortunately for them that loss came last week, to the one team ranked above them, Wellington College. They will be keen to return to form fast and end the term on a real high against a Radley College side whose season has not been as strong as some of their recent efforts, however they are kicking this game off at home on the back of a fine win against their local rivals St Edward’s Oxford last weekend.

Prediction: Harrow.

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Rugby v Oundle

This is a huge game in any season, but this fixture is going to be one of the biggest. Rugby have had a truly brilliant season up to date and have set up camp in the Top 10 of the Daily Mail Trophy. To maintain that though they need to keep the results coming, something that they should feel confident of given that they are undefeated this season. Saturday’s game against Oundle will be tough though, the Northamptonshire side are always a tough outfit and have been in excellent form since the half term break, only losing once and that was a very narrow defeat in the NatWest Cup to one of the favourites, Warwick. This should be a classic.

Prediction: Rugby.

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Sir Thomas Rich’s v Clifton College

Sir Thomas Rich’s will feel fresher than expected for this one after the NatWest Cup quarter final against Bromsgrove, the holders, was postponed due to a frozen pitch. Unfortunately though for them, Saturday’s opponents are one of the very best teams in the country. Clifton College have lost just once all season, and that a narrow recent defeat to Bromsgrove. Clifton will want to make sure they win and win well to cement that top end finish in the Daily Mail, but Sir Thomas Rich’s will be no pushover.

Prediction: Clifton College.

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Warwick v Oakham

This is a huge game between two sides who are right at the top of their game. Warwick have a NatWest Cup quarter final next week against QEGS Wakefield, and the winner of that will be right up there with the favourites to win the competition. Oakham meanwhile reached the semi finals of the Champions Trophy, where a spirited performance against Tonbridge took them close to a place in the final. The benefit of that though is that they have no distractions, while Warwick may just have half an eye on that NatWest Cup tie, which might give Oakham the slight edge.

Prediction: Oakham.

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Wellington College v St Paul’s

Wellington College have once again been one of the very best teams in the country and they sit at the top of the Daily Mail Trophy table. By our maths (which we think is right!) a bonus point win over St Paul’s on Saturday will hand them a third Daily Mail Trophy title in a row. A bonus point win will not be an easy result to gain though, last year at the same stage of the season St Paul’s stunning Wellington to claim one of their best victories of the year and they will be desperate to do the same this year. Wellington will feel confident of avoiding defeat though, particularly as they will be well rested following Wednesday’s cancellation against Sedbergh as a result of frozen pitches. Will that rest add to a third title? Sedbergh are, coincidentally, the only side who can prevent Wellington from winning the title, but in order to do so they will need St Paul’s to step up. Wellington will be giving everything to make sure that will not happen.

Prediction: Wellington College.

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Around the Grounds

 

Abingdon will be hoping to continue their fine season on Saturday as they host a Marlborough College side who have been struggling a little for results this season. With the season drawing to a close though, you can bet that they will be fired up to try and stop this strong Abingdon side.

 

There is a huge game in the North of England as Barnard Castle host Durham. Barnard Castle are enjoying a brilliant season, only losing to the strongest sides in the region, and they will fancy their chances of adding another victory to their haul on Saturday.

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Blundell’s have been up there with some of the strongest this season, they will fancy their chances of another good result as they host Taunton School on Saturday, though Taunton will be full of confidence after a good midweek win in the NatWest Vase.

 

St Peter’s York are firmly positioned in the top 10 of the Daily Mail Trophy and playing some superb rugby, they travel to Bradford Grammar School. Bradford Grammar have had a tough year but found their form in real style last weekend, they will need more of the same against this outstanding St Peter’s side.

 

Elsewhere Churcher’s College v Seaford College should be a goo competitive game, while Epsom College v Trinity could also be excellent. Epsom are one of the strongest sides around, and while Trinity have not had their best season, their reputation suggests they will give everything to end on a high.

 

There is a huge game in Scotland between two of the most prestigious schools in the country, George Watson’s and Merchiston Castle. These two have produced countless internationals, and their games are usually fantastic affairs.

 

Hurstpierpoint College v Eastbourne College ought to be another good game, both have played some excellent rugby at times this year. Bromsgrove meanwhile travel to KES Birmingham and will be much fresher than expected after Wednesday’s NatWest Cup quarter final postponement.

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Merchant Taylors’ have had some fantastic results of late, particularly in their two Friday night games. They face a Haileybury side on Saturday who reached their county cup final in midweek, so expect an excellent game of rugby.

 

Norwich face the tough task of a game at home to Felsted, who must be riding one of the biggest waves of confidence they have ever had after securing a place in the NatWest Cup semi finals following a brilliant win away at Manchester Grammar School in midweek.

 

Reigate Grammar were also in good form in midweek, they host Caterham on Saturday while RGS Guildford host a KCS Wimbledon side who will be hoping to recover fast after last week’s tough loss to St John’s Leatherhead. RGS High Wycombe meanwhile host Campion.

 

There is a huge game in Ealing as St Benedict’s host John Fisher in what looks like being a highly competitive game, meanwhile in Ipswich there is a huge local derby as Ipswich School travel to St Joseph’s College.

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Uppingham will be looking to continue their upward facing end of season form as they host Trent College, while Woodhouse Grove will be confident of securing their Daily Mail Trophy top 10 finish when they host Hymers College.

 

Friday

 

There are two huge games on Friday, beginning at Allianz Park at 14.30 with the Champions Trophy final between Bedford and Tonbridge. These two have been outstanding through the tournament and showed real quality and spirit in their semi finals, suggesting we are in for a great final. You can see our full preview here: Champions Trophy Final Preview.

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The second game on Friday takes place under the lights at Cobham Rugby Club as Eltham College and St John’s Leatherhead meet. Eltham have come a long way under Sam Howard’s guidance this year but against Chris Roberts’ outstanding St John’s side they face a tall order, St John’s have been brilliant this season, and are pushing hard for a Top 10 finish.

 

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 Weekends Fixtures (predictions in bold):

Focus On

 

Brighton College v Hampton

Cheltenham College v Sherborne

Ellesmere College v Denstone College

King’s Macclesfield v Kirkham GS

Monmouth v Millfield

Radley College v Harrow

Rugby v Oundle

Sir Thomas Rich’s v Clifton College

Warwick v Oakham

Wellington College v St Paul’s

 

Around the Grounds

 

Abingdon v Marlborough College

Adams GS v Solihull

Ampleforth College v Pocklington

Barnard Castle v Durham

Berkhamsted v London Oratory

Bishop’s Stortford HS v Bedford Modern

Blundell’s v Taunton

Bradford GS v St Peter’s York

Brentwood v RGS Colchester

Bryanston v Downside

Chislehurst & Sidcup GS v Cooper’s Coborn

Christ College v King’s Bruton

Churcher’s College v Seaford College

City of London Freemen’s v Worth

Cranbrook v Simon Langton GS

Cranleigh v Christ’s Hospital

Dame Allan’s v Newcastle School for Boys

Dauntsey’s v Reading Blue Coat

Dean Close v Prior Park College

Duke of York’s RMS v Sutton Valence

Dulwich College v Northampton School for Boys

Emanuel v Halliford

Epsom College v Trinity

Exeter School v Queen’s College Taunton

Fettes College v George Heriot’s

Framlingham College v Royal Hospital School

George Watson’s v Merchiston Castle

Haberdashers’ v UCS

Hereford Cathedral School v Shrewsbury

Hurstpierpoint College v Eastbourne College

Judd v Glyn

KES Birmingham v Bromsgrove

KES Stratford v Wellingborough

King’s College Taunton v Truro School

Langley Park v Whitgift

Latymer Upper v St Columba’s College

Lawrence Sherriff v King Henry VII, Coventry

Leicester GS v Ratcliffe College

Loughborough v Stamford

Merchant Taylors’ v Haileybury

Newcastle-Under-Lyme v Cheadle Hulme

New Hall v Woodbridge

Norwich v Felsted

Nottingham HS v Grammar School at Leeds

Old Swinford Hospital v King’s Worcester

Oratory v Bloxham

Pangbourne College v Magdalen College

Pate’s GS v Bristol GS

Plymouth College v Mount Kelly

Portsmouth GS v KES Southampton

Princethorpe College v King Edward VI Camp Hill

QEH v Kingswood

Reed’s v Shiplake College

Reigate GS v Caterham

RGS Guildford v KCS Wimbledon

RGS High Wycombe v Campion

RGS Lancaster v Queen Ethelburga’s

RGS Worcester v St Peter’s Gloucester

Rydal Penrhos v St Anselm’s

Sevenoaks v King’s School, Canterbury

St Albans v Aylesbury GS

St Ambrose College v Merchant Taylors’

St Benedict’s v John Fisher

St Dunstan’s College v Kent College

St Edward’s Oxford v Malvern College

St George’s College, Weybridge v Lord Wandsworth College

St Joseph’s College v Ipswich

Stockport GS v Crossley Heath

Uppingham v Trent College

Wallington CGS v Wimbledon College

Warminster v Wycliffe College

Watford GS v QEH Barnet

Wellington School v KES Bath

Wilmslow HS v Manchester GS

Wisbech GS v Gresham’s

Woodhouse Grove v Hymers College

Worksop College v Mount St Mary’s College

Yarm v Ashville College

 

Friday

 

Bedford v Tonbridge – Champions Trophy Final

Eltham College v St John’s Leatherhead

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