The Champions Trophy quarter finals kick off this week, with Allianz Park looming ever nearer.
All three former Champions, Millfield, Bedford, and Tonbridge, were knocked out in the last round, so from the remaining eight teams there will be a brand new champion. Of those left, Grammar School at Leeds have the greatest experience in this tournament, having entered it every year since it began, and reached the first ever final in 2014.
This tournament is well-known for throwing up big surprises and some truly outstanding games of rugby. The sheer intensity and unpredictability of almost every game is what has made it such a favourite of those on the sidelines.
With just eight left, that intensity and unpredictability looks set only to increase.
Kingswood v Eton College – Wednesday 8th November
Kingswood were outstanding in the previous round in their 29-17 win away at Bedford, who won the competition in 2015 and reached last year’s final. It back up a brilliant first round win at Marlborough, and now the Bath men finally have a home game. It will not be easy though, they face an Eton College side with some genuinely impressive results under their belts so far this season. They were given a first round bye, and then made the trip to Bryanston for a 15-10 win. They have shown that they can travel too, and this should be a superb game. Kingswood look seriously determined in this competition though and are having a stunning season, it will take something to beat them.
Bromsgrove v Dulwich College – Tuesday 14th November
Surely the most mouthwatering contest of the lots, two sides with stunning Schools Cup records who have now moved across to the Champions Trophy. Dulwich won three Schools Cups in a row, 2012, 2013, and 2014, they were unseated in the 2015 final by none other than Bromsgrove, who then went on to win the 2016 final too. Now these two Cup giants meet again, and the anticipation can already be keenly felt. They look well matched too, Dulwich looked good in the last round in victory over Berkhamsted and had arguably the performance of the opening round with their destruction of St Paul’s. Bromsgrove had to work hard to win at RGS Guildford last time but were sublime against Monmouth in their opener. This should be one of those classic Champions Trophy games that has everything, and it really could go either way.
Prediction: Dulwich College
Stowe v Blundell’s – Wednesday 8th November
Another brilliant looking game. Stowe have two outstanding results to their name in this competition so far, a brilliant destruction of St Albans, followed by a 19-12 win over former Champions Millfield last time. They should be bouncing with confidence ahead of this one. So will Blundell’s though, they are enjoying a truly brilliant season, and in the last round had a huge result – a 31-7 win at Epsom College, the side that had knocked them out in the two previous years. They want to capitalise on that and go all the way, and in the form they are in they have every chance. Stowe feel the same way though, it has the potential to be yet another of those very special Champions Trophy days.
Grammar School at Leeds v St John’s Leatherhead – Thursday 9th November
Grammar School at Leeds has never been an easy place to travel in this competition, and you can bet your mortgage that it will not be easy for St John’s either, just ask Oakham or Wellington College. GSAL will head into this with so much confidence, that win over Wellington should have them dreaming of 2014 and a run to the final. Yes, Wellington might have sent a 2nd XV, but that matters not, it was representing the 1st XV and as far as GSAL are concerned, that should be all that counts. You can be sure that St John’s will be taking no such chances, having put in a stunning opening round performance against King’s Canterbury (61-14), they then knocked out the champions, Tonbridge. This tournament is wide open and there for the taking, so expect both sides to give absolutely everything on Thursday for a chance at getting into that final. It will be tough, it will be intense, and it will be utterly compelling.
Prediction: St John’s Leatherhead
Champions Trophy Quarter Final Fixtures:
Kingswood v Eton College
Bromsgrove v Dulwich College
Stowe v Blundell’s
Grammar School at Leeds v St John’s Leatherhead
Champions Trophy Round 2 Results:
Bedford 17-29 Kingswood
Berkhamsted 17-33 Dulwich College
Bryanston 10-15 Eton College
Epsom College 7-31 Blundell’s
Grammar School at Leeds 17-11 Wellington College
RGS Guildford 22-37 Bromsgrove
St John’s Leatherhead 39-25 Tonbridge
Stowe 19-12 Millfield
Semi Finals – w/c 20th November
Final – Wednesday 6th December
Champions Trophy Round 1 Results:
Bromsgrove 34-5 Monmouth
Bryanston 47-37 Bristol Grammar
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
St John’s, Leatherhead 61-14 King’s Canterbury
Stowe 47-17 St Albans
Byes – Bedford, Epsom College, Eton College, Millfield, Tonbridge, Wellington College