This year’s HSBC Rosslyn Park National School 7s U18 Cup looks like it might well be the most open for a number of years.
With seventy teams spread across fourteen pools of five, almost every pool has at least one team in it that will fancy their chances of a real crack at the title.
Just making it out of the pool is going to be tough enough though, only the fourteen pool winners and the top two runners up will make the elimination round. That is one knockout round of games, with the eight winners being split into two Cup ‘quarter final’ pools, and the eight losers doing the same but in the Plate competition. The winners of the each quarter final pool play second place from the other pool in the semi final, and then onto the final.
So who might make it through? We take a look at each group, and pair them with the group that their elimination round game will be against.
Groups A & B (Elimination Round is Winner of A v Winner of B)
Cranleigh are in Group A and are the reigning champions and ought to get through their group without too much both, but their likely elimination round game will be fiendishly tough as it looks most likely to be against Beechen Cliff, who knocked them out of the semi finals at the Surrey 7s.
Beechen Cliff were outstanding that day, and while they lost the final to Hampton, they will really fancy a crack at the title on Friday. Look out for St Benedict’s in Group B though, who reached the Surrey 7s quarter finals.
Groups C & D (Winner C v Winner D)
There is one game in Group C that will grab the attention right away, John Fisher v Whitgift. These two Croydon based sides are massive rivals with huge 7s pedigree, John Fisher have reached the final twice in recent years. The winner of that game will almost certainly top the Group.
Group D looks wide open. As an AASE side, Ivybridge are naturally a threat, though their form at Rosslyn Park has tended to come at younger age levels. Queen Ethelburga’s could surprise a few, their form since January has been brilliant, while Caterham won the Surrey 7s Plate and if you give them an inch they have pace to burn.
Groups E & F (Winner E v Winner F)
Wellington College are the name that catches the eye here. The 2015 champions and eternal s heavyweights are always one of the best sides to watch. They are not enjoying their best season though and have a few players absent on international duty, but they will still expect to reach the knockouts and beyond. Barnard Castle will be a threat though and have been excellent on their circuit, so too Cowbridge.
Group F is a seriously heavyweight group. You almost feel for the likes of Haileybury who in another group might well progress. They still could, but with AASE 7s champions, SGSG Filton College, and the outstanding Brighton College, there is so much class in this group. The group will surely come down to their game against each other, setting up another huge clash, likely v Wellington, in the elimination round. By 11am on Friday, at least two title contenders will have gone, just from these two groups alone.
Groups G & H (Winner G v Winner H)
Group G is an interesting one, and could end up being very tight across all the teams. It looks likely that Merchiston Castle, from Scotland, and Myerscough College, will be the main two contenders, but expect this one to have a few twists and turns in it.
The elimination game for the Group G winners will be tricky though, Group H contains one of the most successful sides in Rosslyn Park history, Millfield. Like Wellington though, they are not having their best 7s season, but do look likely to get out of their group. Canford will have a good crack at it though, while Glantaf always have the possibility of a good run in them.
Groups I & J (Winner I v Winner J)
Group I is fierce, possibly the toughest group in the entire competition. It contains three AASE Colleges, Oaklands, Moulton, and Worcester 6th form, the 2016 Vase Champions and Champions Trophy winners, Tonbridge, and Woodhouse Grove, who have reached a fair few finals this season. Any one of five can win this, and four of five will almost certainly get knocked out as with five strong teams it is unlikely that the team in second will be one of the 2 best runners up. Whoever tops it has a chance of going very far indeed.
As if life was not tough enough in Group I, Group J is probably the second hardest Group. Which means that the winners of these two fiendish groups will then have another ferocious game in the elimination round. Group J includes serial Cup winners, Sedbergh, the irrepressible AASE legends, Hartpury College, another AASE side in the form of St Paul’s Catholic College, another AASE College, plus two schools with serious pedigree, Denstone College and Oundle. This I/J section of the draw is fearsome.
Groups K & L (Winner K v Winner L)
Group K looks interesting, last year’s Vase runners up, Bedford, are probably the favourites, particularly having won a stack of trophies so far this season and reached a number of finals. Warwick will likely be focused on the NatWest Cup final a few days later. Scotsmen Dollar Academy are a fine side and well worth keeping an eye on, too.
Group L looks fairly open. Sherborne always seem to produce at Rosslyn Park, so keep an eye out for them, and AASE side Henley College could cause problems. Llandovery College carry a lot of history, but will need to be at their best.
Groups M & N (Winner M v Runner Up 1, Winner N v Runner Up 2)
These are the groups to be in, because if you get out for face a theoretically easier elimination game against the two best runners up, rather than another group winner.
That said, they are only the groups to be in if you can get out of them, and getting out of Group M is going to be an almighty task. Kirkham Grammar School might just be our favourites to win the title, but they could as easily not get out of the group. They have stacks of trophies, including the North of England 7s, but their group contains the Surrey 7s champions, Hampton, who are defying all expectations and playing some stunning 7s. As if that were not enough, the group also includes AASE fifteen-a-side champions, Exeter College, one of the strongest sides in Wales, Coleg Sir Gar, and one of the traditionally strong English schools, Bryanston. Tough does not really do it justice.
Group N is a little less tough, but still far from easy. Last year’s finalists, Harrow, will be favourites, and they have played some lovely stuff again this year. St Joseph’s College always produce good 7s though, with Welsh sides Garth Olwg and Cardiff & Vale are somewhat unknown quantities this side of the border. If Harrow can tie up the group though, they could go far.
To keep the two best runners up form potentially ending up in the same quarter final berth, the quarter final pools are mixed up slightly.
Quarter Final Pool 1 will include the winners of Elimination Rounds A v B, C v D, E v F, and M v RU1, with Quarter Final Pool 2 including the winners of Elimination Rounds G v H, I v J, K v L, and N v RU2.
The winners of Pool 1 will play Pool 2 runners up in Semi Final 1, with the winners of Pool 2 playing the Pool 1 runners up in Semi Final 2.
Then to the final. Whoever gets there will have got there in one of the most even and competitive years in the HSBC Rosslyn Park National School 7s for a long time.
HSBC Rosslyn Park National School 7s Cup Groups (70 Teams):
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Brooksby Melton||Beechen Cliff||Coleg y Cymoedd||Caterham|
|Coleg Llandrillo||Coleg Gwent||John Fisher||Hurtpierpoint College|
|Cranleigh||Peterborough Regional||Nottingham HS||Ivybridge Community|
|Tasker Milward||Ryde School||QES Kirkby Lonsdale||Newport HS|
|Utah Lions||St Benedict’s||Whitgift||Queen Ethelburga’s|
|Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|
|Barnard Castle||Brighton College||Dulwich College||Canford|
|Leicester Grammar||Rydal Penrhos||Merchiston Castle||St George’s College|
|Old Swinford Hospital||SGS Filton College||Myerscough College||VIIs Barbarians|
|Wellington College||St Ambrose College||Neath Port Talbot||Ysgol Gyfun Glantaf|
|Group I||Group J||Group K||Group L|
|Moulton College||Denstone College||Bedford||Harris City Academy|
|Oaklands College||Hartpury College||Bishop Burton College||Llandovery College|
|Tonbridge||Oundle||City of London Freemen’s||Sherborne|
|Woodhouse Grove||Sedbergh||Dollar Academy||Henley College|
|Worcester 6th form College||St Paul’s Catholic College||Warwick||Wimbledon College|
|Group M||Group N|
|Bryanston||Cardiff and Vale|
|Coleg Sir Gar||Chislehurst & Sidcup|
|Hampton||St Joseph’s College|
|Kirkham Grammar||Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg|
HSBC Rosslyn Park National Schools 7s Schedule:
Monday 20 March
Junior Waterfall Tournament
Tuesday 21 March
Colts (U16) Tournament begins
Wednesday 22 March
Vase Tournament begins
Thursday 23 March
Cup Tournament begins
U14 Tournament begins
Friday 24 March
U18 Girls Tournament
U18 Girls AASE Tournament
Prep School Waterfall Tournament
To see the draws for the other competitions at Rosslyn Park, please click the following links:
Cranleigh (bt Harrow 27-19)
Stowe (bt Barnard Castle 24-12)
Tonbridge (bt Bedford 26-10)
King’s Macclesfield (bt St Paul’s 14-12)
Brighton College (bt New Hall 20-19)
Ivybridge Community College (bt Warwick 27-19)
Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni (bt City of London Freemen’s 26-14)
Caldicott (bt Bromsgrove 12-5)
Wimbledon College (bt Ysgol Gyfun Glantaf 15-7)
Ysgol Dyffrin Amman (bt Christ’s Hospital 29-7)
Hartpury College (bt Bishop Burton College 28-0)