There is no doubt at all that the opening weekend of the school season was a sparkling way for things to kick off, with some magical rugby being played.
Amongst all of the magic there were some truly excellent performances. Of course at this stage of the season it is hard to judge with huge accuracy, nevertheless set against historical expectations and performances at Colts level last season, and to a lesser extent 1st XV level, certain performances stand out.
There are certainly a few of those that make our first ‘Top 5’ of the 2018/19 season, though as ever trying to select just five was more than a little challenging! For instance the likes of Millfield, Kirkham Grammar, and Bishop Vesey’s just miss out despite some spectacular opening results this weekend.
We managed to narrow it down though – but please, do send in as much info as you have each week, the more we have the more we can better reflect your performances.
Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend – Saturday 8th September
Hurstpierpoint made the Top 5 early on last season when they took the big scalp of Brighton College. They have repeated the trick right at the very first opportunity this season with a fantastic 22-13 victory away at Tonbridge, a side with a huge rugby pedigree. The challenge now for Hurstpierpoint is to keep at it and to mix it with such names consistently, but after a start like that who would bet against them? It could be that Hurstpierpoint rugby is now at its strongest point since the times of Noah Cato et al. Guess who comes next…Brighton College, what a game that promises to be.
QEGS Wakefield are not just one of the most dominant sides in the North, they are one of the most dominant sides in the country. That is not just historical either; their record over the last five years at all age-groups is genuinely outstanding then. That record through they age-groups tells you everything you need to know about how impressive Lancaster RGS’ 26-10 win was on Saturday. A mighty fine win from a side that won just two games last year – if Saturday tells us anything it is that we can expect more this year.
Generally speaking you would anticipate The Leys and Bedford Modern being roughly even, some years one might have the upper hand but we are not talking about huge differences – on average. The Leys have the bit between their teeth this year though, Simon Thomas has come in to lead them having previously been a key cog in the Dulwich College machine that saw them take three Schools Cup titles in a row in 2012, 2013, and 2014 followed by last year’s Champions Trophy. That success has obviously rubbed off on his new charges as they stormed to a quite brilliant 59-0 victory. They could well be a dark horse side to look out for this year.
Nine months ago Felsted put sixty points past Norwich. Felsted are a side that have been growing and growing over the last few years and have claimed some monster scalps along the way. Norwich have been growing quietly too and in captain Freddie Steward they have an absolute star. Nevertheless in nine months nobody could have expected them to turn a near sixty point defeat into a close game, let alone a win. But win they did, and at 24-22 as the final score it came with so much tension too, a brilliantly tense afternoon of rugby. Yes there is huge player turnaround since nine months ago, but regardless, Norwich School deserve huge credit.
Part of what makes sport so special is the drama of it, and that drama is even better when you have to of the very best teams in the country neck and neck. That was exactly the case on Saturday in Croydon when Sedbergh, the all conquering side of last season, travelled to Whitgift, who have looked formidable in pre-season. As the clock ran dead the two were locked at 24-24, only for Sedbergh to pull the rabbit out of the hat, the trick that all great sides seem to be able to pull off. In the final play of the game they scored the decisive try through Cooke, with captain Tom Curtis landing the conversion for a 31-24 victory. Both side showed their quality, but in 30 seconds of play Sedbergh put themselves in this Top 5 and deservedly so. What a game, what drama, and what a victory against another very special side indeed.