St Joseph’s Festival: Who are the contenders & how are they shaping up?

The 2017 St Joseph’s Festival is within touching distance now, and with it looking like one of the most competitive, it ought to be another hugely exciting tournament.

 

Ahead of kick off, we take a closer look at each of the groups and teams within them, looking at their seasons so far, their performances last year, and any successes in previous tournament. Have a read through and then let us know who you think will win in our vote at the foot of the page.

 

You can see our full preview of the tournament here: 2017 St Joseph’s Festival Preview.

 

Group A

 

Brighton College

 

Last Year:

 

Runners-up (drew 10-10 with Cranleigh in the final, lost as Cranleigh scored first)

 

Tournament Record:

 

Plate winners, 2002 and 2014. Cup runners-up, 2016.

 

Season so far:

 

It was a slow start for Brighton College, losing three of their opening four games (although two were by less than a penalty). They have found sound form in the nick of time ahead of the Festival though as they look to go one better than last year, they are two from two over the last fortnight and are starting to score a fair few tries – a key ingredient at St Jos’.

 

Merchiston Castle

 

Last Year:

 

3rd/4th – Second in Cup Group B, behind eventual winners Cranleigh.

 

Tournament Record:

 

Plate runners-up, 1997.

 

Season so far:

 

Just one defeat all season and have reached the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup already. Their victories have included one over big rivals Dollar Academy, setting them up nicely for a tilt at St Jo’s.

 

John Fisher

 

Last Year:

 

Plate 5th/6th, third place in Plate Group X.

 

Tournament Record:

 

Cup winners, 2009. Cup runners-up, 2012.

 

Season so far:

 

A tricky start for John Fisher saw them lose their opening two games but they have seen a bit of an upturn since then, winning three and drawing one as they moved into the Schools Cup third round.

 

Eltham College

 

Last Year:

 

Plate 5th/6th, third place in Plate Group W.

 

Tournament Record:

 

Plate runners-up 1987.

 

Season so far:

 

Eltham arrive in decent form with four wins from their last five. They suffered a tough defeat at the hands of Felsted but have some notable wins of their own, and are through to the third round of the Schools Cup.

 

Who do we think will progress to the Cup groups? Brighton College and Merchiston Castle.

 

Group B

 

RGS High Wycombe

 

Last Year:

 

7th/8th – Fourth in Cup Group A.

 

Tournament Record:

 

Cup winners, 1999. Cup runners-up, 1998, 2013, and 2015. Plate Winners, 1987, 1988, 1997, 2010, and 2012.

 

Season so far:

 

RGS have huge pedigree in this tournament, as their record shows, they are always tough to beat. This year they have struggled at times, losing five and winning three of their 8 games. But as always, they are hugely competitive, beating the likes of Eton and Hampton.

 

Dulwich College

 

Last Year:

 

5th/6th – 3rd in Cup Group A.

 

Tournament Record:

 

Cup Winners, 2011. Cup runners-up, 2004, 2005, 2006. Plate winners, 2009.

 

Season so far:

 

A win over Berkhamsted in midweek sent Dulwich College into the Champions Trophy quarter finals. They are playing some exciting attacking rugby this year, they have five wins and four defeats, but crucially have won four of their last five, sending them to St Jo’s full of form and confidence.

 

RGS Newcastle

 

Last Year:

 

Plate 3rd/4th – 2nd in Plate Group W.

 

Tournament Record:

 

Plate runners-up, 2013.

 

Season so far:

 

It has been a good year for RGS, who are in the 3rd round of the Schools Cup. They have won five of their seven matches, and though Sedbergh gave them a tough time, they have some signature victories over other powerhouses of the north, including Durham and Woodhouse Grove.

 

Whitchurch High School

 

Last Year:

 

Plate 3rd/4th – 2nd in Plate Group X.

 

Tournament Record:

 

2015 was their Tournament debut.

 

Season so far:

 

It has been a tough old start to the season for Whitchurch with just one win from the six games in the Welsh Schools & Colleges U18 League. It was a decent win though, against Coleg Llandrillo, and a number of games have been close, so if they can get ahead early, look out.

 

Who do we think will progress to the Cup groups? RGS High Wycombe & Dulwich College.

 

Group C

 

Millfield

 

Last Year:

 

3rd/4th – 2nd in Cup Group A.

 

Tournament Record:

 

Cup winners, 2014, 2012, 2006, 2004, 1993, and 1990. Cup runners-up, 2008, 2007, 2000, and 1994. Plate runners-up, 1995.

 

Season so far:

 

The most successful side in St Joseph’s Festival history have had a tricky start to the season, losing four of their six games. With an emphasis on development though, they are playing some pleasing stuff on the eye, the sort of rugby that works at St Jo’s. Wins over RGS High Wycombe and Welsh giants Coleg Sir Gar demonstrate their enduring class, this is a side that one way or another always goes well at St Jo’s.

 

Hampton

 

Last Year:

 

Plate winners (13-0 v St Joseph’s College)

 

Tournament Record:

 

Cup winners, 2015. Plate winners, 2016.

 

Season so far:

 

An even enough start to the season for Hampton, with three wins and four losses. They will hope to find the sort of form at St Jo’s that has seen them pick up silverware on each of the last two trips. Wins over fellow competitors RGS High Wycombe and John Fisher ought to give them confidence.

 

QEGS Wakefield

 

Last Year:

 

5th/6th – 3rd in Cup Group B.

 

Tournament Record:

 

Cup winners, 1997. Cup runners-up, 1996. Plate runners-up, 2015, 2014, 2006, 2002.

 

Season so far:

 

QEGS are looking strong this year, they have reached the 3rd Round of the Schools Cup and have only one defeat to their name so far, to a very good St Peter’s York side. Wins have included an excellent victory over Woodhouse Grove, and they arrive full of confidence after beating Crossley Heath 83-0.

 

Hurstpierpoint College

 

Last Year:

 

N/A

 

Tournament Record:

 

2017 is their tournament debut.

 

Season so far:

 

A famous season already for Hurstpierpoint after their defeat of Brighton College early in September. They have not hit quite hit those heights since, perhaps the inevitable hangover, losing their next three games. They arrive on the back of a strong win over King’s Canterbury though, and with that victory over Brighton in the back of their minds, they will know they can spring an upset.

 

Who do we think will progress to the Cup groups? Millfield & QEGS Wakefield.

 

Group D

 

St Joseph’s College

 

Last Year:

 

Plate runners-up (Lost 13-0 to Hampton)

 

Tournament Record:

 

Cup winners, 2013, 2010, and 1995. Cup runners-up, 2014. Plate winners, 2003. Plate runners-up, 2016, 2005, and 1993.

 

Season so far:

 

It has been a strong start for St Joseph’s College with four wins from five, making them a formidable prospect this weekend. This is the major date in their calendar, their season is built around it and they have fanatical and numerous supporters for the weekend. Often they have a slow start to the year, holding back ahead of a big push, so a strong start suggests an impressive group.

 

Denstone College

 

Last Year:

 

7th/8th – Fourth in Cup Group B.

 

Tournament Record:

 

Plate winners, 2015

 

Season so far:

 

An even start to the season with three wins and three losses, but it has been a fiercely tough fixture list, with Kirkham Grammar and Cranleigh among those losses, and in relatively close games. Denstone are battle-hardened and could potentially be dark horses over the weekend.

 

St Peter’s, Gloucester

 

Last Year:

 

Plate 7th/8th – Fourth in Plate Group X.

 

Tournament Record:

 

Plate winners, 2001 and 2005. Plate runners-up, 2008.

 

Season so far:

 

It has been a tough old season for St Peter’s, who were without a win through September and into October. They found a win just in the nick of time though, beating Bishop Vesey’s 26-17 last weekend, which ought to send them into the weekend with a bit of a spring in their step.

 

Portsmouth Grammar School

 

Last Year:

 

N/A

 

Tournament Record:

 

Plate winners, 2013. Plate runners-up, 2011.

 

Season so far:

 

It has been a good start to the year for Portsmouth, winning four of their seven matches including a couple of thumping wins. Defeats have come against tough opposition, such as Canford, so they are well hardened ahead of their return to this famous Festival, where they will doubtless be keen to make a name for themselves once again.

 

Who do we think will progress to the Cup groups? St Joseph’s College & Denstone College.

 

[poll id=”239″]

 

2017 St Joseph’s Festival – Day 1 Groups
Group A Group B Group C Group D
Brighton College RGS High Wycombe Millfield St Joseph’s College
Merchiston Castle School Dulwich College Hampton Denstone College
John Fisher RGS Newcastle QEGS Wakefield St Peter’s School, Gloucester
Eltham College Whitchurch High School Hurstpierpoint College Portsmouth Grammar School

 

St Joseph’s Festival – Day 1 Fixtures
Pitch 1 Time Pitch 2
Brighton College v Eltham College 09.00 John Fisher v Merchiston Castle
RGS High Wycombe v RGS Newcastle 09.40 Dulwich College v Whitchurch High School
Hurstpierpoint College v Millfield 10.20 Hampton v QEGS Wakefield
St Joseph’s College v Portsmouth Grammar School 11.00 Denstone College v St Peter’s, Gloucester
Brighton College v John Fisher 11.40 Eltham College v Merchiston Castle
RGS High Wycombe v Whitchurch High School 12.20 Dulwich College v RGS Newcastle
Millfield v QEGS Wakefield 13.00 Hampton v Hurstpierpoint College
St Joseph’s College v St Peter’s, Gloucester 13.40 Denstone College v Portsmouth Grammar School
Brighton College v Merchiston Castle 14.20 Eltham College v John Fisher
Dulwich College v RGS High Wycombe 15.00 RGS Newcastle v Whitchurch High School
Hampton v Millfield 15.40 Hurstpierpoint College v QEGS Wakefield
St Joseph’s College v Denstone College 16.20 St Peter’s Gloucester v Portsmouth Grammar School

 

2017 St Joseph’s Festival – Day 2 Groups
Group A (Cup) Group B (Cup) Group X (Plate) Group Y (Plate)
Winner Group A Winner Group C 3rd Place Group A 3rd Place Group C
Winner Group B Winner Group D 3rd Place Group B 3rd Place Group D
Runner Up Grp C Runner Up Grp A 4th Place Group C 4th Place Group A
Runner Up Grp D Runner Up Grp B 4th Place Group D 4th Place Group B
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