Unfortunately the weather proved to be the most stringent opponent for most schools this weekend, with a huge number of games forced to be called off all over the country.
Just six of our ten ‘Focus On’ games were able to go ahead, while across the rest of the weekend’s game an even greater percentage fell foul of the weather.
For many this was the last weekend of the season, for those in upper 6th, their final school game ever, it was a crying shame that it should end in cancellations for so many. It was understandable though, not only were pitches frozen but roads were a nightmare too, cancellation was the only viable option.
What did go ahead more than made up for it though, with some absolutely thrilling games and some stunning performances to close a wonderful season on.
One of the biggest games of the weekend was the final U18 Schools Cup quarter final, where last year’s finalists, Bishop Wordsworth’s, hosted the 2010 and 2011 champions, Whitgift. Bishop Wordsworth’s had been in stunning form over the last couple of weeks while Whitgift had some injury concerns, however the visitors but in a truly stunning performance to take the game by a highly impressive 48-15 margin, a truly outstanding result. Whitgift will now face the reigning champions, Warwick , in the semi final at Allianz Park on the weekend of the 3rd/4th March, with QEGS Wakefield taking on Northampton School for Boys in the other semi.
Another massive game saw unbeaten Cheltenham College host the Champions Trophy runners-up, Blundell’s. Whoever won would secure a top end Daily Mail Trophy finish, and for Cheltenham their unbeaten season rode on it. It was Cheltenham that took the victory, winning 18-7 to secure a 5th place Daily Mail Trophy finish, and their third unbeaten season since the 1850s, a stunning achievement.
The game of the weekend turned out to be another key battle for a high Daily Mail Trophy finish as Clifton College hosted Canford. What unfolded was a truly spectacular game of rugby, the two sides shared eighty-four points and were separated by a mere two as Clifton College won an absolute thriller 43-41. It was surely one of the very best games of the season, between any two sides, and the result gave Clifton a 9th place finish in the table.
Fresh from their stunning Champions Trophy final win on Wednesday, Dulwich College hosted Hampton on Saturday. With a bit of tiredness at play following that triumph though, and a superb performance from a strong Hampton side, it was the visitors that took the victory, 29-19.
Cranleigh were another side chasing the completion of an unbeaten season on Saturday. They travelled to Marlborough College and put on a performance of real style to secure a 43-12 victory, giving them that superb unbeaten season, just their fourth in 102 years. It also secured them a fourth place Daily Mail Trophy season, and adds to their incredible record over the last couple of years that has seen them win back to back Rosslyn Park titles, the 2016 St Joseph’s Festival, and now an unbeaten season. A truly stunning achievement.
The only other ‘Focus On’ fixture to go ahead on Saturday was Wellington College’s trip to St Michael’s College in Dublin, although with Wellington having almost their entire 1st XV out injured, it was always going to be a horrendously difficult task against a side that is categorically one of the best in Ireland. It proved as difficult as expected, with St Michael’s winning 72-0. The great hope is that it does not discourage schools in England and Ireland from pursuing more of these fixtures, they have been a great addition to the calendar this year. Irish schools rugby is incredibly strong at the moment, and seeing top sides from each country going head to head is absolutely brilliant.
Around the Grounds
There were not too many fixtures going on elsewhere but there were some spectacular games. Epsom College scored ten points in the final few minutes to come back from behind against St John’s Leatherhead to win 23-17, a fantastic high to end their season on.
Bedford ended their season in a hugely positive way too, beating Abingdon 26-8 ahead of their hosts Rugby Dinner that night. Colston’s also finished their season in a great way, beating Pate’s 34-22 capping what has been an excellent season.
Downside finished in style, beating Wycliffe College 43-0, Dauntsey’s were in similar form, seeing off Lord Wandsworth College 50-0, while St Paul’s were also in great try-scoring form to end their season, beating Emanuel 52-0.
Oakham were the weekend’s biggest scorers though as they saw off Stowe by an incredible 66-5 margin, ending what has been a good season in real style, a memory that will see them head into the 7s season full of confidence next term.
Things were closer on the south coast as Portsmouth Grammar won a tight one against Wimbledon College 21-20, it was tight at West Buckland too as visitors Mount Kelly won 25-20. RGS Guildford were another to pick up a narrow win, seeing off Skinners by a two point margin, 19-17.
St Benedict’s ended a tricky season in a hugely positive way as they travelled to Tiffin and came away with a enormously impressive 43-17 victory. Taunton School meanwhile beating King’s Burton 20-10, while Sutton Valence ended their impressive season with a tight 17-13 victory over King’s Canterbury.
St Joseph’s College secured a 36-18 win at home to Culford, while also in Suffolk there was a great end to the season from Royal Hospital School, who beat Framlingham College 31-17. Along the road, New Hall beat RGS Colchester 37-20.
Reed’s made up for their tough midweek loss in the Schools Vase with an excellent 12-5 win over KCS Wimbledon for a positive end to their term. Merchant Taylors’ were on great form, beating St Albans 31-0.
Eastbourne College had a fantastic final performance in their last game, beating Caterham 38-5. Seaford College were equally impressive, keeping up their great recent form with a 31-17 win at KES Southampton. So too King’s Worcester, who were 41-12 winners at home to Trent College.
In Wales, meanwhile, Llandovery College finally got their win over English opposition, beating Plymouth College 26-19.
One of the very biggest games of the weekend though, and for these two their season, was the Cheshire Cup final the Sale Sharks’ AJ Bell Stadium, Lymm High School v Wirral Grammar School. Lymm were the reigning champions, but Wirral pushed them all the way. The 2016 winners just had enough to edge the win though, Lymm winning 10-9 for a memorable victory.
Friday saw some superb performances, not least in the U18 Schools Bowl quarter final, where Samuel Whitbread were in sensational form. They beat Ashvile College 67-0, one of the most incredible performances of the round, so secure a semi final spot against King Henry VIII Coventry in March.
Elsewhere there was the huge annual derby between Bradford Grammar and Woodhouse Grove. The two sides braced freezing conditions, and a pitch blanketed in white, to put on a real show, with Woodhouse Grove winning 31-7.
Kirkham Grammar School, so excellent once again this season, beat South African tourists Rhino Rugby 20-0, though the game had to be called off early due to injury, while UCS beat Mill Hill 30-7.
You can see a few photos from the weekend here: Gallery – Saturday 9th December.
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 Results – Saturday 9th December:
Bishop Wordsworth’s 15-48 Whitgift (Schools Cup QF)
Cheltenham College 18-7 Blundell’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
Clifton College 43-41 Canford (Daily Mail Trophy)
Dulwich College 19-29 Hampton (Daily Mail Trophy)
Marlborough College 12-43 Cranleigh (Daily Mail Trophy)
St Michael’s College (Dublin) 72-0 Wellington College
Berkhamsted v Haileybury (Daily Mail Trophy) – Cancelled
Dean Close v Kingswood (Daily Mail Trophy) – Cancelled
QEGS Wakefield v Sedbergh (Daily Mail Trophy) – Cancelled
Warwick v Bromsgrove (Daily Mail Trophy) – Cancelled
Around the Grounds
Abingdon 8-26 Bedford (Daily Mail Trophy)
Colston’s 34-22 Pate’s GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Dauntsey’s 50-0 Lord Wandsworth College
Downside 43-0 Wycliffe College
Eastbourne College 38-5 Caterham (Daily Mail Trophy)
KES Southampton 17-31 Seaford College
King’s Worcester 41-12 Trent College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Llandovery College 26-19 Plymouth College
Lymm HS 10-9 Wirral GS (Cheshire Cup Final, AJ Bell)
Merchant Taylors’ 31-0 St Albans (Daily Mail Trophy)
New Hall 37-20 RGS Colchester
Oakham 66-5 Stowe (Daily Mail Trophy)
Portsmouth GS 21-20 Wimbledon College (Daily Mail Trophy)
Reed’s 12-5 KCS Wimbledon (Daily Mail Trophy)
RGS Guildford 19-17 Skinners’ (Daily Mail Trophy)
Royal Hospital School 31-17 Framlingham College
St John’s Leatherhead 17-23 Epsom College (Daily Mail Trophy)
St Joseph’s College 36-18 Culford
St Paul’s 52-0 Emanuel (Daily Mail Trophy)
Sutton Valence 17-13 King’s Canterbury
Taunton 20-10 King’s Bruton
Tiffin 17-43 St Benedict’s (Daily Mail Trophy)
West Buckland 20-25 Mount Kelly
Bradford GS 7-31 Woodhouse Grove (Daily Mail Trophy)
Kirkham GS 20-0 Rhino Rugby (S.A.)
Mill Hill 7-30 UCS
Samuel Whitbread 67-0 Ashville College (Schools Bowl QF)
Still to Come
Bishop’s Stortford HS v Watford GS
Clayesmore v Monkton Combe
Cooper’s Coborn v St Dunstan’s College
London Oratory v Gunnersbury
Queen Ethelburga’s v King’s Parramatta (Australia)
Radley College v Oundle (Daily Mail Trophy)
Wells Cathedral v Queen’s College, Taunton
Abraham Darby v Wrekin College
Adams GS v Loughborough GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Barnard Castle v RGS Newcastle (Daily Mail Trophy)
Bishop Vesey’s GS v KES Camp Hill
Bloxham v Stamford (Daily Mail Trophy)
Brentwood v Dartford GS
Chislehurst & Sidcup GS v Gravesend GS
City of London Freemen’s v Colfe’s
Cobham International v Worth
Fettes College v Dollar Academy
Giggleswick v King’s Macclesfield
Glasgow Academy v George Watson’s College
Gresham’s v Langley
Hurstpierpoint College v Whitgift 2nd XV
John Fisher v Eton College
Kelvinside Academy v Edinburgh RHS
KES Stratford v Princethorpe College
Lawrence Sheriff v Ratcliffe College
Leicester GS v Wellingborough
Liverpool College v St Anselm’s
Merchiston Castle v Glenalmond College
Monmouth v Solihull (Daily Mail Trophy)
Newcastle School for Boys v Austin Friars
Pocklington v St Peter’s, York (Daily Mail Trophy)
Prior Park College v KES Bath
Reading Blue Coat v Magdalen College (Daily Mail Trophy)
RGS Worcester v Bristol GS (Daily Mail Trophy)
Robert Gordon’s College v Stewart’s Melville
Rugby v Malvern College
Shiplake College v Churcher’s College
Sir Joseph Williamson’s v Langley Park
Sir Thomas Rich’s v The Crypt
St Ambrose College v Cheadle Hulme
St Columba’s College v Latymer Upper
St Peter’s Gloucester v Campion
Strathallan v Dundee HS
Trinity v St George’s College, Weybridge (Daily Mail Trophy)
Wallington CGS v Ravens Wood
Woodbridge v King’s Ely
Worksop College v Ampleforth College
Yarm v Hymers College (Daily Mail Trophy)