There is a packed fixture list this weekend, making it one of the busiest and potentially most exciting weekend’s of the season so far.
It could also prove to be a defining weekend in the Daily Mail Trophy, with a number of key games for certain teams’ ambitions in the competition coming up.
We take a quick look at what’s going on this weekend, beginning as ever with our ten ‘Focus On’ fixtures.
Brighton College v John Fisher
Always a hotly anticipated clash between two schools that have been right at the top end in recent times. This year John Fisher have struggled a little, though they performed well in their narrow midweek defeat to Judd in the last 16 of the Schools Cup. How they react to that against a Brighton College side that is in scintillating form will be key. If they take heart and bounce back, they could make life very hard for Brighton, if they let it knock them back a step, Brighton College are playing the sort of rugby that could take real advantage.
Prediction: Brighton College
Bristol Grammar School v Blundell’s
On Wednesday Blundell’s beat a very good Kingswood side to reach the Champions Trophy final for the very first time. They are in truly fantastic form, and will surely be full of confidence. Bristol Grammar are having a mixed season, but if Blundell’s are tired or rest bodies after that crucial midweek tie, then they could take advantage. For Blundell’s though, from now until the 6th December, maintaining momentum is going to be key, they will want to arrive at Allianz Park full of confidence, and that starts this Saturday.
Bromsgrove v Clifton College
This will be Bromsgrove’s first game since their Champions Trophy quarter final defeat to Dulwich College, so they have had plenty of time to stew on that and build for a big performance. They will need one too, Clifton College are a strong side. They might have lost their last two games, but they came against two unbeaten sides, Blundell’s and Cheltenham College, two of the best around. They will not want that to become three in a row, and will surely put in every last ounce of effort into this fixture. It ought to be a cracking game of rugby, potentially one of the best of the weekend.
Prediction: Clifton College
Hampton v Sherborne
This should be another interesting game, both are coming off the back of successive defeats against very strong opposition, and you can be sure that both will be absolutely determined to turn that around. A fantastic game of rugby should be the result, both are battle hardened after such tough fixtures. One of them is going to return to winning ways, and it should be a joy to see who it is.
Marlborough College v Bishop Wordsworth’s
A good looking fixture on a number of levels, not least because Marlborough’s Director of Rugby is Terry Gilmour, who guided Bishop Wordsworth’s to the Schools Cup final last year, and whose son is in the Bishop Wordsworth’s side this year. It is a good fixture for more than just that reason though, Marlborough picked up their first win of the season last week and should be feeling really good now ahead of this one. Bishop Wordsworth’s are going to be tough though, they might not be on the form of last year but they have had some big results, including a win over Hampton last week.
Prediction: Bishop Wordsworth’s
Sedbergh v Woodhouse Grove
A massive clash between two of the best performing sides in the region. Sedbergh are sweeping all before them so far this season, with a number of huge points tallies. Do not expect the same on Saturday though, Sedbergh are undoubtedly favourites, but Woodhouse Grove will not roll over. For Sedbergh though this is key, the have a huge game against Wellington College in midweek but if they want to wrestle the Daily Mail Trophy title from the Bracknell men, they are going to need every last point available to them elsewhere, starting on Saturday.
Stonyhurst College v King’s Macclesfield (U18 Schools Cup)
Unusually, this week we include a Cup game in our weekend Focus On section, and it is a belter, the North A regional final between Stonyhurst College and King’s Macclesfield. Five sides are already through to the quarter finals, with two more to come next week, plus the winner of this key game. Stonyhurst’s form this season suggests that they are favourites, but King’s Macclesfield have every chance here and have had some cracking Cup runs in recent years. It ought to be a truly memorable occasion, particularly as come kick off the teams will know their potential quarter final opponents, with the draw taking place at lunchtime on Friday.
Prediction: Stonyhurst College
Tonbridge v Dulwich College
This is always a special fixture on the school calendar, and while Tonbridge might not be having their best ever season, this fixture still retains a real aura about it. Dulwich ought to start as favourites, but after their stunning Champions Trophy victory against St John’s on Thursday afternoon fatigue will certainly be a factor, add to that the fact that Tonbridge got back to winning ways last weekend, and suddenly this game looks more open, though of course the flip side is the huge confidence boost that that spectacular win will have given Dulwich. It could well end up being a superb spectacle of rugby.
Prediction: Dulwich College
Wellington College v Harrow
Perhaps the game of the weekend, particularly from a Daily Mail Trophy perspective. A win for Harrow could send them shooting up the table, and it would also open up the opportunity for another side to seriously challenge Wellington for the title, namely Sedbergh. Were Harrow to win on Saturday then the midweek clash between Wellington College and Sedbergh becomes even more important. Even if all of that were not relevant though, this is still a massive game between two sides that are undoubtedly among the absolute best in the country. It will be a titanic clash, one that genuinely could go either way and should see some of the very best school rugby of the season. Not to be missed.
Prediction: Wellington College
Whitgift v Millfield
Another clash between two of the biggest names in school rugby. Form this year suggest that Whitgift have the edge, but after a tough midweek game against Hampton, tiredness could be a factor. Confidence could be too though, that win propelled them into the Schools Cup quarter finals, while Millfield will be hurting after a fairly resounding defeat to Blundell’s last week. You would expect Millfield to bounce back in some style though, setting us up for a game that could be fast, exciting, and of an extremely high quality. School rugby at its best.
Around the Grounds
Elsewhere there are some really interesting match-ups and a number of sides returning to the field with a point to prove. Not least Kingswood, who have had such a superb season but had a pin stuck in it on Wednesday in their Champions Trophy semi final defeat to Blundell’s. They will be absolutely determined to bounce back on Saturday against King’s College Taunton, and to maintain their high placing in the Daily Mail Trophy.
St John’s Leatherhead will want to wipe away their midweek result with a strong weekend performance. They travel to KCS Wimbledon as favourites but it is always a tough place to go to, and likely with a few bodies missing after Thursday’s Champions Trophy semi final, they will need to be sharp.
Northampton School for Boys are full of confidence after an impressive Schools Cup last 16 win over a very good Stamford side. They travel to Old Swinford Hospital, who are probably playing their best rugby since their trip to the Schools Cup final back in 2012, so the Northampton men will need to maintain that midweek form.
Up in Scotland Merchiston Castle face a tricky trip to Fettes College, while Glasgow Academy have a tough task on their hands too, hosting Stewart’s Melville.
Back down in England there is a huge game in Gloucester as St Peter’s host the outstanding Kirkham Grammar School. St Peter’s had a superb midweek win over KES Southampton, but Kirkham will be a whole different kettle of fish, they are among the top handful of sides in the country.
Over at RGS High Wycombe there is a big game as they host St Benedict’s, while down in Surrey Abingdon make a trip down to the RGS Guildford. Abingdon will be determined to secure the win after that agonising defeat in their derby against Radley College, but in RGS Guildford they face a side that might not have been talked about too much, but have been producing some superb rugby.
Moving into London, there is another cracking game of rugby as St Paul’s host Berkhamsted. Both sides have had some truly exceptional result this season, as well as a few defeats that they perhaps did not see coming. That should set us up for a fantastic game of rugby on Saturday afternoon as these two go head to head.
There is knockout action on Friday when Colfe’s host New Hall in the London & South East A section on the U18 Schools Plate, with a place in the quarter finals at stake.
Elsewhere Oakham and Dentone College meet for what should be a brilliant clash under the lights, so too Latymer Upper v Emanuel, as well as Robert Clack against a confident Wisbech Grammar side following their brilliant win at Worksop College at the weekend.
As always, if you have any videos, photos, or reports from the weekend’s rugby, please feel free to send them in via Twitter (@FifteenRugbyXV), Facebook (www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby), Instagram (@fifteenrugbyxv), or through email (email@example.com).
Schools Rugby Weekend Fixtures – Saturday 25th November (predictions in bold):
Brighton College v John Fisher (Daily Mail Trophy)
Bristol GS v Blundell’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
Bromsgrove v Clifton College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Hampton v Sherborne (Daily Mail Trophy)
Marlborough College v Bishop Wordsworth’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
Sedbergh v Woodhouse Grove (Daily Mail Trophy)
Stonyhurst College v King’s Macclesfield (Schools Cup)
Tonbridge v Dulwich College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Wellington College v Harrow (Daily Mail Trophy)
Whitgift v Millfield (Daily Mail Trophy)
Around the Grounds
Ampleforth College v Newcastle SfB (Daily Mail Trophy)
Bedford Modern v Nottingham HS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Birkdale v Hymers College
Bradford GS v Ashville College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Christ’s Hospital v Cranleigh, 2nd XV
Churcher’s College v Halliford
Colston’s v The Crypt
Cooper’s Coborn v The Leys
Cranbrook v Eltham College
Crossley Heath v Queen Ethelburga’s
Dame Allan’s v Durham (Daily Mail Trophy)
Dartford GS v Campion
Ellesmere College v Wrekin College
Fettes College v Merchiston Castle
Glasgow Academy v Stewart’s Melville
Glyn v Seaford College
Gunnersbury v UCS
Haberdashers’ v St George’s, Harpenden
Hurstpierpoint College v Worth (Daily Mail Trophy)
Judd v Langley Park
KCS Wimbledon v St John’s, Leatherhead (Daily Mail Trophy)
KES Birmingham v Adams GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
King’s College, Taunton v Kingswood (Daily Mail Trophy)
King Henry VIII, Coventry v Wellingborough
King’s Worcester v Bishop Vesey’s GS
Lawrence Sheriff v Bablake
London Oratory v Trinity (Daily Mail Trophy)
Loughborough GS v Sir Thomas Rich’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
Magdalen College v KES Southampton
Manchester GS v Cheadle Hulme
Old Swinford Hospital v Northampton SfB (Daily Mail Trophy)
Oratory v St Edward’s, Oxford (Daily Mail Trophy)
Pate’s GS v RGS Worcester (Daily Mail Trophy)
Portsmouth GS v City of London Freemen’s
QEH v Beechen Cliff, 2nd XV
RGS Colchester v Ipswich
RGS Guildford v Abingdon (Daily Mail Trophy)
RGS High Wycombe v St Benedict’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
RGS Newcastle v RGS Lancaster (Daily Mail Trophy)
Robert Gordon’s Academy v Dollar Academy
Skinners’ v King’s Canterbury (Daily Mail Trophy)
Solihull v Sandbach
Stamford v St Albans (Daily Mail Trophy)
St Anselm’s College v St Ambrose College
St Columba’s College v Hitchin
St Dunstan’s College v Duke of York’s RMS
St George’s Weybridge v Reading Blue Coat (Daily Mail Trophy)
St Olave’s GS v Maidstone GS
St Paul’s v Berkhamsted (Daily Mail Trophy)
St Peter’s, Gloucester v Kirkham Grammar School
Stockport GS v Grammar School at Leeds (Daily Mail Trophy)
Taunton School v Exeter School
Tiffin v Caterham (Daily Mail Trophy)
Uppingham v The Perse
Wallington CGS v Reigate GS
Watford GS v Aylesbury GS
West Buckland v Truro
Wilmslow HS v Calday Grange GS
Wimbledon College v Reed’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
Colfe’s v New Hall (Schools Plate)
Latymer Upper v Emanuel
Oakham v Denstone College
Wisbech GS v Robert Clack