The Champions Trophy first round is all but complete, with all bar one of the first round fixtures having taken place.
The re-arranged fixture between St John’s Leatherhead and King’s Canterbury, taking place next week, is all that remains before we know the identity of the teams taking part in the last 16, for which the draw will take place at midday on Friday.
Of course six teams in the last 16 will be appearing for the first time in the competition, having been given bye. Former Champions Bedford, Millfield, and Tonbridge are among them, along with Epsom College, Eton College, and Wellington College, entering an U18 knockout competition for the first time since defending their Schools Cup tittle in the 2008/9 season.
The first sides to join them in the second round were RGS Guildford and Stowe, who beat Caterham and St Albans respectively last week.
RGS Guildford secured a highly impressive 38-0 win over Caterham, which for can read about here – RGS first through in the Champions Trophy, while Stowe were 47-17 victors against St Albans. Stowe scored thirty-five unanswered points in the first half, but St Albans showed great resilience to bounce back and ‘win’ the second half.
On Tuesday this week those two were joined by Berkhamsted, Bromsgrove, and Grammar School at Leeds. Grammar School at Leeds were at home to last year’s semi finalists, Oakham. They produced the sort of result that helped them towards the 2014 final against Millfield though, securing an excellent 38-24 victory to go storming into the second round.
Berkhamsted were knocked out by Grammar School at Leeds’ opponents last year. They began their campaign away to Radley College on Tuesday and came away with an outstanding 32-17 victory. They dug deep for it, leading just 15-12 at half time before running in three second half tries to secure a commanding win.
For Bromsgrove this first round was huge, this is their first year in the Champions Trophy, having moved from the Schools Cup, where they were the winners in 2015 and 2016 and reached last year’s semi final. That moves looks to have been worthwhile as they secured a quite brilliant 34-5 victory over Monmouth. They were in stunning form, especially in the first half, where they flew out to a 27-0 lead before Monmouth tightened the ropes in the second half.
Dulwich College were a previous high profile crossover from the Cup, they were Schools Cup champions in 2012, 2013, and 2014, and based on Wednesday’s result they will be competing hard to become the first side to win an U18 Schools Cup title and a Champiosn Trophy title. They beat St Paul’s 43-12 in a hugely impressive display of dominance, it was arguably the performance of the round and will have the other sides sitting up and taking plenty of notice.
Wednesday also saw a hugely impressive result from Kingswood, who have started this season in fine form. They travelled to Marlborough College, who are now under the guidance of Terry Gilmour, the man who led Bishop Wordsworth’s to last year’s Cup final, and secured a truly excellent 22-3 victory to fire them into the second round.
Blundell’s and Sherborne have both had great track records in this competition, with Blundell’s particularly impressive having reached the semi finals in 2015 and the quarters in 2016, on both occasions losing to Epsom College. It was perhaps fitting then that they just outshone their hosts for an 18-7 victory, wouldn’t it be fitting if they were to be drawn against Epsom once again.
Arguably the game of the round though came right at the end of the round on Thursday as Bryanston and Bristol Grammar School shared an astonishing eighty-four points. Both sides threw everything at it and neither truly deserved to go home with nothing, a trait that so often is the case in this tournament. As it was, the home side, Bryanston, were the ones that will be involved in Friday’s 2nd Round draw as they secured the victory 47-47, showing a superb amount of sprit.
It is these sort of intense 50/50 encounters that have come to encapsulate what this superb tournament is all about, and do not be surprised to see more games of a similar nature in the second round.
With fifteen out of sixteen confirmed for the second round of this brilliant competition, the full second round lineup will be known on Tuesday evening following the conclusion of St John’s Leatherhead v King’s Canterbury.
Before then, we can look forward to Friday’s midday 2nd Round draw, where Bedford, Epsom, Eton, Millfield, Tonbridge, and Wellington College will find out their first opponents of the competition.
Champions Trophy Round 1 Info:
Bromsgrove 34-5 Monmouth
Bryanston 47-37 Bristol Grammar School
Dulwich College 43-12 St Paul’s
Grammar School at Leeds 38-24 Oakham
Marlborough College 3-22 Kingswood
Radley College 17-32 Berkhamsted
RGS Guildford 38-0 Caterham
Sherborne 7-18 Blundell’s
Stowe 47-17 St Albans
St John’s Leatherhead v King’s Canterbury – Tuesday 3rd October
Bedford, Epsom College, Eton College, Millfield, Tonbridge, Wellington College.
Round 2 Draw – Friday 29th September, 12pm.
Round 2 – w/c 9th October
Quarter Finals – w/c 6th November
Semi Finals – w/c 20th November
Final – Wednesday 6th December