The Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools 7s U18 Vase kicks off on Wednesday 21st March, with the knockout stages taking place on Thursday 22nd this year.
Last year’s Champions, St John’s Leatherhead, have moved up to the Cup, but the side that they beat in that thrilling 26-24 final, Cheltenham College, could be the favourites this year.
Cheltenham had a stunning unbeaten fifteen-a-side season, and their 7s season has followed a similar pattern with some high profile tournament wins under their belts despite the many cancellations this year due to the weather. They are in Group A, where Bassaleg, RGS Lancaster, Shebbear College, and Trent College are their competitiors. It is a tough group, but the side that won back to back titles in 2003 and 2004 are going to face tough challenges the whole way through if they want to win this one.
The format this year sees the 34 group winners and two best runners-up pair off for an elimination round at the end of Wednesday. The winners of those elimination round games will six Vase quarter final groups of three, the losers going into similar groups for the Bowl competition.
The winners of each of those Vase quarter final groups will then be split into two further Vase semi final groups of three, with the winners of each of those meeting for the Vase final. The Bowl will follow the same format.
That means that there will be just two knockout games for the winners, the elimination round, and the final. It will be a thorough process, but it will need to be, this Vase competition is littered with top schools. The age old Vase versus Festival versus Cup argument will no doubt rear its head again given the strength of the Vase competition this year, but wherever you stand it seems certain that this Vase competition is going to produce plenty of quality.
Take Group D with 2017 Schools Cup finalists Bishop Wordsworth’s, 2018 Schools Plate finalists Trinity, and one of the star sides of this year, Dean Close. Just making it to day 2 from there will be brutal.
Group E with Blundell’s and Felsted is similar, both are legitimate title contenders and yet with just two runners up spots available in the elimination round across the 32 groups, it is not at all unlikely that one will not even make it to Thursday.
2016 winners Tonbridge are in a challenging Group DD with the likes of Churcher’s College and Ellesmere College for company, 2015 champions Stowe are again in the Vase. Their group looks brutal, Simon Langton, Gresham’s, Rugby, and Pocklington keeping them company. Any one of them could top the group.
Like Tonbridge, the 2018 Schools Bowl champions St George’s Weybridge are one of a handful of sides to drop down from the Cup, they are over in a tricky Group I, with another star side of the fifteen-a-side season, Kingswood, their main company.
Oundle are another to come down, they are in a difficult to predict Group M with Ysgol Gyfun Y Strade, Lycee International de Londres, Gravesend Grammar, and Colston’s for company, Colston’s of course who last won the Vase back in 2006.
Whoever wins it, they are going to have had to do it the hard way, that much is for sure. Predicting it is a fool’s game, but just for a bit of fun we have shaken up out crystal ball and had a go at predicting who will play in those key elimination round fixtures late on Wednesday afternoon. You can see the full draw underneath.
U18 Vase Elimination Round Predictions:
Cheltenham College (Group A) v Eltham College (Group B)
Bromsgrove (Group C) v Dean Close (Group D)
Blundell’s (Group E) v Bristol Grammar (Group F)
Eastbourne College (Group G) v New Hall (Group H)
Kingswood (Group I) v KES Bath (Group Z)
Portsmouth Grammar (Group J) v Downside (Group K)
Epsom College (Group L) v Oundle (Group M)
Judd (Group N) v Gower College (Group O)
Stowe (Group P) v RGS Newcastle (Group Q)
St Peter’s, York (Group R) v Abingdon (Group S)
Stonyhurst College (Group T) v Giggleswick (Group U)
QEGS Wakefield (Group V) v St Edward’s, Oxford (Group W)
Oakham (Group X) v Eton College (Group Y)
Hayes (Group AA) v Shiplake College (Group BB)
King’s Worcester (Group CC) v Tonbridge (Group DD)
Uppingham (Group EE) v Wirral Grammar (Group FF)
Seaford College (Group GG) v Felsted (Runner-up 1)
Coleg Gwent (Group FF) v Worksop College (Runner-up 2)
Of course these predictions are just random, at least a third of the groups had two or sometimes three sides that we thought might genuinely top it, but it does serve to show just how strong this competition looks.
Who do you think will win it? Let us know!
U18 Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s Vase Draw:
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Bassaleg||Eltham College||Bromsgrove||Bishop Wordsworth’s|
|Cheltenham College||Regent House||Durham||Dean Close|
|Lancaster, RGS||Harris City Academy||Campion||Trinity|
|Shebbear College||Monmouth||Brynteg Comprehensive||Plymouth College|
|Trent College||Seevic College||Regent House 2nd VII||Prior Park College|
|Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|
|Blundell’s||Birkdale||Cardiff High School||Emmanuel College|
|Felsted||Bristol GS||Eastbourne College||Framlingham College|
|Tiffin||Merchant Taylors’ Northwood||Ravens Wood||New Hall|
|Weston College||St Paul’s||King’s Macclesfield||Sutton Valence|
|Milton Abbey||Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr||Yarm||Ysgol Sir Thomas Picton|
|Group I||Group J||Group K||Group L|
|Cathedral School, Llandaff||Sevenoaks||Brighton College 2nd VII||Epsom College|
|Colfe’s||Ryde School with Upper Chine||Downside||KCS Wimbledon|
|Hymers College||The Leys||Marlborough College||Nottingham HS|
|Kingswood||Manchester Grammar School||Mount Kelly||Taunton|
|St George’s, Weybridge||Portsmouth GS||Royal Wootton Bassett||King John School|
|Group M||Group N||Group O||Group P|
|International de Londres||Cokethorpe||Gower College||Gresham’s|
|Colston’s||Mount St Mary’s College||Wellington||Pocklington|
|Gravesend GS||St Peter’s, Gloucester||Liverpool College||Rugby|
|Oundle||Judd||Radley College||Simon Langton Grammar School|
|Ysgol Gyfun Y Strade||Ysgol Gyfun Bryn Tawe||Windsor Boys||Stowe|
|Group Q||Group R||Group S||Group T|
|King’s Bruton||Queen Ethelburga’s||Abingdon||RGS Worcester|
|Reed’s||St Peter’s, York||Christ College||Stonyhurst College|
|RGS Newcastle||Norwich||Duke of York’s RMS||Ibstock Place|
|UCS||The Perse||Ipswich||King’s School, Canterbury|
|Wisbech GS||Wallington CGS||Pangbourne College||Torquay Boys’ GS|
|Group U||Group V||Group W||Group X|
|Ampleforth College||Berkhamsted||RGS Guildford||Bryanston|
|Burford||Christ’s Hospital||St Edward’s, Oxford||Gordon’s|
|Giggleswick||Clayesmore||Strode’s 6th form College||Leicester GS|
|King’s College, Taunton||QEGS Wakefield||The Oratory||Oakham|
|Westcliff HS||Reigate Grammar School||Wellingborough||Truro School|
|Group Y||Group Z||Group AA||Group BB|
|Bradford Grammar School||Akeley Wood||Ridley College||AKS Arnold|
|Eton College||Hill House||Hayes||Bedford Modern School|
|Langley Park||KES Bath||Loughborough Grammar School||Magdalen College|
|The London Oratory||Worth||Malvern College||Rossall|
|Welbeck||Ysgol Y Preseli||Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital||Shiplake College|
|Group CC||Group DD||Group EE||Group FF|
|Lord Wandsworth College||Churcher’s College||Worksop College||Amman Valley|
|Queen’s College, Taunton||Coopers’ Coborn||Shrewsbury||Emanuel|
|Richard Huish College||Ellesmere College||Sir Joseph Williamson’s||Millfield 2nd VII|
|King’s Worcester||Rutlish||Sir William Borlase’s||Stockport GS|
|Wimbledon College||Tonbridge||Uppingham||Wirral GS|
|Group GG||Group HH|
|King Edward’s, Stratford||Ashville College|
|Royal Alexandra & Albert||Cardinal Newman|
|Seaford College||Coleg Gwent|
|St Olave’s Grammar School||Peterborough Regional|
|Wrekin College||Pembrokeshire College|
Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s Previews