After a huge midweek of Cup action, it is back to the usual Saturday blocks this weekend.
It should be a cracking weekend, if a little less full on than the opening couple of weeks, with a couple of teams opting for a quiet weekend after midweek fixtures, but there are some of the biggest and best fixtures of the season coming up on Saturday.
Abingdon v Cheltenham College
Abingdon feature once again in our Focus On list. Last week they lost at home to Eton College and they will be giving everything to get back to winning ways. It is going to be incredibly tough though, Cheltenham College are in sensational form, winning three from three and looking relatively untroubled. This should be a good game though, the two should be well matched.
Prediction: Cheltenham College
Barnard Castle v Woodhouse Grove
Barnard Castle are three from three this season, while Woodhouse Grove are three losses from four games. On the surface that suggests a simple win for Barnard Castle, but that is too simplistic, it overlooks which sides Woodhouse Grove have faced. They have played St Peter’s York, 4th in last year’s Daily Mail Trophy, twice and QEGS Wakefield, currently second, losing only narrowly in each. Their sole victory was a huge win against Pocklington. Another close game therefore seems likely, and perhaps their superior opponents to date could serve Woodhouse Grove well. Barnard Castle are one of the most famous rugby schools in the land though, this could be very tight.
Prediction: Woodhouse Grove
Dulwich College v Brighton College
A truly fascinating game between two sides that we still do not quite know exactly where they sit. Brighton College got off to a slow start with a couple of losses but got back on the horse well last week with a good win. Dulwich College have lost to Wellington College and Harrow, but both narrowly, and have won away at Epsom. Perhaps most useful though was their stunning midweek win over St Paul’s in the Champions Trophy. It all points towards a brilliant game of rugby, one that we cannot wait to see the result of.
Prediction: Brighton College
Hampton v RGS High Wycombe
It always seems to be a close and exciting fixture between two schools that have been competing right at the top end of the circuit. The two sides have identical records this season with two wins each and two losses each. Both have faced some of the top sides in the country, Hampton with defeats to Whitgift and Bromsgrove, and RGS going down to Millfield and Wellington College. While those defeats may not have been enjoyable, what it does mean is that both are very match hardened against the best, which should set us up for a cracker on Saturday.
Hurstpierpoint College v St John’s, Leatherhead
Hurstpierpoint hit the headlines with their win against Brighton a couple of weeks ago. Inevitably they had a bit of a hangover last week and could not hit those heights again, falling to Reed’s. Interestingly St John’s also lost last weekend, to Brighton College, which really sets things up for this clash on Saturday. Based on their respective results against Brighton College, one would say that Hurstpierpoint are the favourites, however there is no doubt that Brighton were hurting and responded in style against St John’s. This should be a tasty encounter.
Prediction: St John’s, Leatherhead
Marlborough College v Sherborne
Both teams will be very much up for this one. Both had the Champions Trophy hopes crushed in midweek with first round losses but this is an opportunity to get right back on track at the earliest possible moment. Sherborne have a slightly better record so far than Marlborough, but it should be a fairly even and exciting game, these two have produced some great encounters on this pitch in the past, hopefully Saturday will be another.
Oakham v Bedford
Bedford beat Oakham’s biggest rivals, Uppingham, last time out, and Oundle on the opening weekend, but perhaps neither by as much as they would have hoped. Oakham have played more fixtures, winning two and losing two, but are coming off the back of a defeat in the Champions Trophy first round, a competition that they finished in as semi finalists last year. The question is, will that have taken something out of them, or will it have them fired up even more for Saturday? For Bedford it is a case of trying building momentum in what will surely be a tough game after an unbeaten yet relatively quiet opening to the season.
Uppingham v Rugby
It has been a tough old start for Rugby, having gone unbeaten last year they have lost three from four this year, conceding 69 points in their last two games without scoring a single one. Uppingham have had one of their better starts of the last few years, winning three and losing two. It’s an interesting game on a number of levels, the current Head and Deputy Head at Rugby were once the Uppingham 1st XV coaching ticket, with Uppingham now under the control of former Scotland international Nick De Luca. How this game pans out will probably tell us an awful lot about each side’s respective standing this season, and it should be a close one.
Wellington College v Millfield
A schoolboy classic. These, along with probably Sedbergh, are the biggest names in schools rugby, always at or near the top. Over the last couple of years Wellington College have had the edge, winning the last three encounters between the two and finishing each of those seasons at the top of the Daily Mail Trophy table. Wellington have started this season in that sort of form too, with huge wins of RGS High Wycombe and Tonbridge adding to wins over Dulwich College and Whitgift, Millfield’s start has been decent, beating RGS and Coleg Sir Gar, but an opening day defeat to Canford was not what they were after. A win at Bigside would certainly make up for it.
Prediction: Wellington College
Whitgift v Warwick
Another smashing game between two sides that are always up at the higher end of the spectrum, and are looking like they are again this year. Warwick, the Schools Cup champions, have wins over Bromsgrove and a big Cup win in midweek, but lost to Harrow last Saturday, Whitgift on the other hand have had narrow losses to Wellington College and Sedbergh but have beaten Hampton and Langley Park. They probably have the greater match practice with the extra fixtures and having faced quality of the likes of Wellington and Sedbergh, but Warwick will be another side of a similar standard, suggesting a close and compelling game.
Around the Grounds
Speaking of Sedbergh, they make their first big trip down south this weekend as they take on Berkhamsted. The men in brown will be favourites, but expect Berkhamsted to put up a stern fight, they have had a good start themselves.
Denstone College v King’s Macclesfield is a fixture that should be really close and exciting, so too Eltham College v Sevenoaks.
In Scotland there’s a massive match between Dollar Academy and Stewart’s Melville, while Merchiston Castle look likely to carry on their unbeaten start to the season, but must see off Strathallan.
Colston’s hit some form in the Cup in midweek and will be looking to carry that on when they travel to King’s College Taunton on Saturday. In the West Midlands there should be plenty of excitement about King’s Worcester v Sir Thomas Rich’s, a game that almost always produces plenty of good rugby.
Lymm High School v Wilmslow High School is always interesting, both have a habit of going a long way in Cup competitions, so it will be interesting to see how things go between them in this non-knockout fixture.
St Joseph’s College’s preparations for their Festival continue with a trip to the ever-strong Northampton School for Boys, after a strong start, St Jo’s will fancy their chances of a win.
Oundle are off to a nightmare start, with three defeats from three. They are back at home this weekend but face the tricky task of a fixture against a Stamford side that are bouncing with confidence after four wins from four, including Uppingham, Stowe, and Oakham.
It’s a tricky return to the field for St Paul’s after their defeat to Dulwich College on Wednesday, they face a trip to RGS Guildford, who have made it to the second round of that same Champions Trophy competition.
Kirkham Grammar’s fixture list sees them come up against an RGS Lancaster side that has been struggling this term. It’s likely to be more competitive in the north east though, where RGS Newcastle host a Grammar School at Leeds side that will be full of confidence after that win over Oakham.
It is a quieter Friday than usual this weekend, with just the one fixture. It should be a cracking game though, with KCS Wimbledon and St George’s College, Weybridge meet. It ought to be a very close game and a superb way to start an exciting weekend of schools rugby.
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Schools Rugby Weekend Fixtures – Saturday 30th September (predictions in bold):
Abingdon v Cheltenham College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Barnard Castle v Woodhouse Grove (Daily Mail Trophy)
Dulwich College v Brighton College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Hampton v RGS High Wycombe (Daily Mail Trophy)
Hurstpierpoint College v St John’s, Leatherhead (Daily Mail Trophy)
Marlborough College v Sherborne (Daily Mail Trophy)
Oakham v Bedford (Daily Mail Trophy)
Uppingham v Rugby (Daily Mail Trophy)
Wellington College v Millfield (Daily Mail Trophy)
Whitgift v Warwick (Daily Mail Trophy)
Adams GS v KES Stratford
Ashville College v Birkdale
Bablake v Leicester GS
Bedford Modern v Princethorpe College
Bell Baxter v Fettes College
Berkhamsted v Sedbergh (Daily Mail Trophy)
Bishop’s Stortford HS v St Columba’s College
Blundell’s v Truro
Brentwood v Skinners’
Caterham v Reed’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
Christ’s Hospital v St Benedict’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
Churcher’s College v Portsmouth GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
City of London Freemen’s v Shiplake College
Colfe’s v Sutton Valence
Denstone College v King’s Macclesfield (Daily Mail Trophy)
Dollar Academy v Stewart’s Melville
Durham v Hymers College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Eltham College v Sevenoaks
Emanuel v Seaford College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Exeter v Plymouth College
Felsted v Gresham’s
Glasgow Academy v Glasgow HS
Hereford Cathedral v St Edward’s, Cheltenham
Hitchin v UCS
Judd v Cooper’s Coborn
KES Bath v Dean Close
KES Birmingham v Cokethorpe (Daily Mail Trophy)
King Henry VIII, Coventry v Wrekin College
King’s College, Taunton v Colston’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
King’s Worcester v Sir Thomas Rich’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
Latymer Upper v QES Barnet
Liverpool College v King William’s College
London Oratory v St George’s, Harpenden
Lymm HS v Wilmslow HS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Manchester GS v Bolton
Merchant Taylors’ v Magdalen College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Merchiston Castle v Strathallan
Monmouth v Bristol GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Mount St Mary’s College v Ratcliffe College
Northampton School for Boys v St Joseph’s College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Norwich v RGS Colchester
Nottingham HS v Bradford GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Oratory v KES Southampton
Oundle v Stamford (Daily Mail Trophy)
Pate’s GS v The Crypt
QEGS Wakefield v Loughborough (Daily Mail Trophy)
QEH v Taunton
Queen’s College, Taunton v West Buckland
Queen Ethelburga’s v Welbeck
Ravens Wood v Langley Park
Reading Blue Coat v Aylesbury GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
RGS Guildford v St Paul’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
RGS Lancaster v Kirkham GS
RGS Newcastle v Grammar School at Leeds (Daily Mail Trophy)
Rodillian v Crossley Heath
Royal Hospital School v Campion
Sandbach v Cheadle Hulme
Sir Joseph Williamson’s v Chislehurst & Sidcup GS
Solihull v Bromsgrove (Daily Mail Trophy)
St Albans v New Hall
St Ambrose College v Stockport GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Tiffin v Haberdashers’
Trinity v Gunnersbury
Wallington CGS v Dartford GS
Wimbledon College v John Fisher (Daily Mail Trophy)
Windsor Boys v Mill Hill
Worth v Reigate GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Yarm v Ampleforth College (Daily Mail Trophy)
KCS Wimbledon v St George’s College, Weybridge