After a week that was seen the Daily Mail Trophy take a huge swing and the final few Schools Cup quarter finalists confirmed, you could be forgiven for thinking that the weekend might be a quiet one.
How wrong you would be though, as this weekend looks set to feature some absolutely fantastic games of rugby, with some huge head to heads and crucial games for plenty of sides as we edge right up to the end of the season.
Indeed for a number of sides this is the final game of the season, and what a season it has been so far. For many there is still another week of action, but for those playing in their final game – best of luck to you, and thank you all for contributing hugely to another superb season of schools rugby.
We begin our look at the weekend’s schools rugby by picking out our ten ‘Focus On’ games, and we were spoilt for choice this week.
Bedford v Harrow
Bedford have won two on the bounce, but hosting Harrow will be a different kettle of fish. The North West Londoners are among the very best in the country, and showed their class as they went to Wellington College last weekend and won. A win away at Bedford on Saturday would secure them a truly remarkable unbeaten season, and a secure place as one of the best handful of sides in the country this year. When it comes to team the season, you would imagine they will get plenty of votes. Bedford will want to spoil the part though, and are more than capable of doing so, they have some real quality in their ranks.
Campion v RGS High Wycombe
This one is really interesting, Campion were on fire before half term, playing some genuinely stunning rugby. Things have not been quite as plain-sailing since, but they will be really up for this game as they aim to take one of the most well-known scalps in school rugby. RGS will not want to lose though, this season ahs been a tough one for them but there have been some impressive results in there. A loss to Campion would be a real blow, but they know that they are going to have to put in a real performance to beat them.
Canford v Bishop Wordsworth’s
A huge clash between two of the U18 Schools Cup quarter finalists, and potentially a warm up for games later in that competition if both progress. The Cup could have an impact on this one though, Bishop Wordsworth’s had a huge performance against Dean Close of Wednesday, and with the quarter-finals scheduled for next week, they may well need to rest a few bodies. It will be a tough call though because Canford are exceptional, and are chasing an unbeaten season. They have Wednesday’s game against Warwick to consider too though, so this game really is interesting on a number of levels. If both are at their best, this could be a real classic.
Cranleigh v Whitgift
Another cracking looking game between two sides that can definitely count themselves among the very best around. Cranleigh are chasing an unbeaten season, and with just two games left, it is on, however this is an almighty tough fixture, definitely their hardest since September, and maybe their hardest of all. Whitgift are a quality side and are among the favourites in the Schools Cup. Perhaps that may be a distraction though, should they rest players, but this is a massive game, and expect a full-blooded performance from both sides.
Epsom College v Wellington College
Epsom face the unenviable task of trying to stop a Wellington College side that has just lost two on the bounce, and in all likelihood their grip on the Daily Mail Trophy. However, Wellington have a long injury list and Epsom College are a good side, results have gone against them this year but by fine margins. A win on Saturday would really put a positive spin on things. Expect Wellington to perform well though, they truly are a top class team and three on the bounce would be almost unthinkable.
Prediction: Wellington College
Eton College v Tonbridge
This is a really interesting fixture, our hunch is that it could turn out to be a very close game indeed. Both have had interesting seasons, probably not winning quite as many games as they would have hoped. They are both in good nick as we approach the end of the season though, each with back to back wins, including a cracker for Tonbridge against Dulwich College last weekend. This one feels like it really could go either way, and for the winner it would see them approaching the end of the season on a real high note.
Prediction: Eton College
Hampton v Brighton College
Brighton College are on red hot form, they seem to be scoring points for fun, were it not for a shaky September they would be approaching this final game of the term aiming for an unbeaten term. As it is, they are looking to a secure an unbeaten half term. Hampton will be tricky opponents though, although they are in a tough patch of form having not won in four games. They earned a good draw against Sherborne last week though, and if a few injured men come back, they might just fancy a go at spoiling the Brighton party if they can.
Prediction: Brighton College
Kirkham Grammar School v King’s Macclesfield – CANCELLED
Unfortunately this game has already fallen foul of the weather, with frozen pitches forcing the cancellation. It looks as though it might well be the first of many, but with any luck the majority of fixtures will go ahead.
Radley College v St Paul’s
A classic schools rugby fixtures between two of the oldest school rugby clubs in the country. Radley will have been gutted to have lost their Oxford derby to Teddies in midweek, but will take heart having won the other on, against Abingdon, last weekend. In St Paul’s they face a side that have had some tough losses but also some outstanding results, having beaten Tonbridge and Berkhamsted in two of their last three games they will really fancy their chances, but Radley will be no easy hurdle.
Prediction: St Paul’s
Sherborne v Cheltenham College
Cheltenham have been one of the star sides of the school season. They are currently unbeaten and flying high in the Daily Mail Trophy, with just two games left they will be absolutely determined to cap this outstanding season with an unbeaten record, but in Sherborne on Saturday, they face a challenge. The Dorset men might not have won in three games, but in losing to Canford and Wellington College they lost to two of the best in the business, while a thrilling draw with Hampton was a strong result. This should be a fantastic game of rugby, for Sherborne it is a final game of the season, and at home, so they will come out firing. Cheltenham will need to be on top form to preserve that unbeaten record.
Prediction: Cheltenham College
Around the Grounds
Those ten ‘Focus On’ games are far from the only big games this week though, there is some fantastic rugby going on all across the country.
One such game is a massive north-eastern derby between Durham and Barnard Castle, two sides with fantastic schoolboy rugby reputations. Both have had fairly similar seasons, so expect a fantastic game of rugby on Saturday afternoon.
Down in Yorkshire there is another excellent looking game as the impressive Woodhouse Grove travel to Hymers College, who have been in good form of late. Woodhosue will be favourites, but expect a good performance from Hymers.
Staying in Yorkshire, the outstanding St Peter’s York will be looking to continue their quest for an unbeaten season when they welcome Bradford Grammar, who themselves have had plenty of decent results. St Peter’s are going to be a tough one to crack though, it has been an outstanding season.
Straying further north into Scotland, where there are plenty of games this weekend, one particularly stands out between two of the most famous names in Scottish school rugby, George Watson’s College and Merchiston Castle. They met a couple of week’s ago in the Cup, where George Watson’s took the honours, 10-7, so expect a strong Merchiston backlash in this one.
In the Midlands there is plenty to keep us entertained, not least an exciting game in the West Midlands, where Solihull, who scored over seventy points last weekend, host a very tough Oakham side. It could go either way, but one thing is for certain, it’s not going to be a seventy pointer for either side.
Oakham’s big rivals Uppingham face a tricky trip to Stowe, again it looks like a game that could be close, although Stowe are probably the favourites for it.
Over at Oundle there is a massive game as they host Rugby. Neither has had things quite their own way this year, but Rugby were on a hot streak until defeat to Berkhamsted in their last outing, they will want to right the wrongs from that as quickly as they can.
In the South East there are some major clashes, not least Felsted v Norwich, two of the top sides in East Anglia this year. Felsted will be favourites, but will need to work hard for it.
Eastbourne College host Hurstpierpoint College in a clash that could be really interesting. Each has gained some really significant wins this season that have real sent a wave of energy through their teams, and Saturday’s game could prove to be a real classic, in part because of that. Definitely a game to look out for.
There is also a cracking looking game between St John’s Leatherhead and Seaford College. St John’s have had a good season, but will be really keen to make their mark as it comes to a close, Seaford will be a tough old side to try to do that against though.
Three games particularly stand out for us in the South West on Sunday. Clifton College v Sir Thomas Rich’s looks like it could be excellent, particularly with Clifton back in form and confidence after beating Bromsgrove last week.
Marlborough College v Abingdon looks like a very well balanced game that really could go either way. Abingdon picked up their first win since September last week, while Marlborough drew with Schools Cup quarter finalists Bishop Wordsworth’s, expect this to be close.
Finally to Millfield v Monmouth. Millfield’s form has been rocky, so Monmouth will be going all guns blazing for a memorable win on Millfield’s famous Gareth Edwards surface. Millfield are going to be hurting though, big defeats to Blundell’s and Whitgift will have been unpleasant and they will be going out looking to score some serious points. If they get it right, it could be spectacular.
There is just the one game on Friday, finishing a quiet week of rugby. It should be a good game though between two sides that on paper should produce an exciting match, Emanuel and Shiplake College.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Schools Rugby Weekend Fixtures – Saturday 2nd December (predictions in bold):
Bedford v Harrow (Daily Mail Trophy)
Campion v RGS High Wycombe (Daily Mail Trophy)
Canford v Bishop Wordsworth’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
Cranleigh v Whitgift (Daily Mail Trophy)
Epsom College v Wellington College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Eton College v Tonbridge (Daily Mail Trophy)
Hampton v Brighton College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Kirkham GS v King’s Macclesfield
Radley College v St Paul’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
Sherborne v Cheltenham College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Around the Grounds
Ashville College v Yarm (Daily Mail Trophy)
Altrincham GS v Stockport GS
Bedford Modern v King Henry VIII, Coventry
Bloxham v The Oratory (Daily Mail Trophy)
Bristol GS v Pate’s GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Bromsgrove v KES Birmingham (Daily Mail Trophy)
Caterham v Reigate GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Cheadle Hulme v Newcastle-Under-Lyme
Christ’s Hospital v Churcher’s College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Claires Court v Latymer Upper
Clifton College v Sir Thomas Rich’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
Cooper’s Coborn v Chislehurst & Sidcup GS
Dartford GS v St Olaves’s GS
Dauntsey’s v Bryanston
Denstone College v Trent College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Dollar Academy v Linlithgow Academy
Durham v Barnard Castle (Daily Mail Trophy)
Eastbourne College v Hurstpierpoint College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Eltham College v Skinners’
Felsted v Norwich
Framlingham v Langley
George Heriot’s v Stewart’s Melville
George Watson’s College v Merchiston Castle
Glasgow Academy v Jordanhill
Glyn v Ravens Wood
Grammar School at Leeds v Nottinhgam HS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Gresham’s v Royal Hospital School
Haberdashers’ v UCS
Haileybury v Bishop’s Stortford HS
Hymers College v Woodhouse Grove (Daily Mail Trophy)
Ipswich v St Joseph’s College
John Fisher v St Benedict’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
KCS Wimbledon v RGS Guildford (Daily Mail Trophy)
Kelvinside Academy v Marr College
Kent College v St Dunstan’s
KES Bath v Wellington
KES Camp Hill v Princethorpe College
KES Southampton v Portsmouth GS
King’s Bruton v Christ College
King’s Canterbury v Sevenoaks
King’s College, Taunton v Truro
Kingswood v QEH
Langley Park v Mill Hill
Lord Wandsworth College v St George’s College, Weybridge
Loretto v Newcastle School for Boys
Magdalen College v Pangbourne College
Malvern College v St Edward’s, Oxford (Daily Mail Trophy)
Manchester GS v Wilmslow HS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Marlborough College v Abingdon (Daily Mail Trophy)
Merchant Taylors’ v St Ambrose College
Millfield v Monmouth (Daily Mail Trophy)
Mount Kelly v Downside
Mount St Mary’s College v Worksop College
New Hall v St Columba’s College
Old Swinford Hospital v King’s Worcester (Daily Mail Trophy)
Oundle v Rugby (Daily Mail Trophy)
Pocklington v Ampleforth College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Prior Park College v Dean Close
QES Barnet v Watford GS
Queen’s College, Taunton v Exeter
Ratcliffe College v Leicester GS
Reed’s v Merchant Taylors’ (Daily Mail Trophy)
RGS Colchester v Brentwood
RGS Lancaster v Queen Ethelburga’s
RGS Worcester v St Peter’s, Gloucester (Daily Mail Trophy)
Shrewsbury v Hereford Cathedral
Solihull v Oakham (Daily Mail Trophy)
St Albans v Berkhamsted (Daily Mail Trophy)
St Anselm’s v Rydal Penrhos
St John’s, Leaterhead v Seaford College (Daily Mail Trophy)
St Peter’s, York v Bradford GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Stamford v Loughborough GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Strathallan v Robert Gordon’s College
Stowe v Uppingham (Daily Mail Trophy)
Sutton Valence v Duke of York’s RMS
Taunton v Blundell’s
Tiffin v Reading Blue Coat (Daily Mail Trophy)
Wellingborough v KES, Stratford
Wimbledon College v Wallington CGS
Wisbech GS v Woodbridge
Worth v City of London Freemen’s
Wycliffe College v Warminster
Emanuel v Shiplake College