2018 St Joseph’s Festival: Group by Group breakdown – who’s in contention?

This weekend is one of the great weekend’s of the schools rugby season as the 2018 St Joseph’s Festival kicks off.


The rugby starts at 9am on Saturday 20th October, running through to the final at 4.15pm on Sunday 21st. It is a packed two days of rugby, with 24 games on Saturday and 26 on Sunday, with games lasting 30 minutes on Saturday and 25 on Sunday to accommodate the extra two fixtures – it is also an earlier start on Sunday, with the first game kicking off at 8.35am.


Live Preview Show


Prior to the big kick off, we will be on a panel with Russell Earnshaw as part Live Festival Preview show coming from St Joseph’s College, where Joe Byrnes will be hosting, as he will be through the weekend for CheersMate Productions’ live stream.


The show starts at 8pm on Friday night and you will be able to see it at https://festival.stjos.co.uk/friday-night-preview-show/ and we will have links through on our site too as well as links to the live streams of both pitches for the two days.




The Contenders


Ahead of all of that though it is worth taking an in depth look at this year’s tournament, which promises to be one of the most competitive for many a year. We take a look at each team and give you our predictions for who will make it through to the Day 2 Cup groups – and you can have your say on who you think will win at the foot of the article.


Group 1


Dulwich College


Form this Year – P7 W5 L2

W 33-0 v Bedford

L 25-21 at Hampton (CT)

W 26-6 v Eton College

W 22-17 at Brighton College

W 31-0 v Harrow

W 18-8 v Epsom College

L 27-14 v Wellington College


Tournament History – Winners 2011, Runners Up 2006, 2005, & 2004


Last Year – 3rd/4th – 2nd in Cup Group A


Dulwich College are looking strong this year, only Hampton and Wellington College have beaten them this year and both games could have gone either way. With their brand of fast-paced offloading rugby, they always score tries, and at the St Joseph’s Festival with such short games, tries are a golden currency. Only one win away from last year’s final, they will be desperate to go one better.


QEGS Wakefield


Form this Year – P6 W2 L3 – 1TBA

TBA at Crossley Heath

L 48-0 v Woodhouse Grove (SC)

L 26-5 v St Peter’s, York

W 33-3 v Loughborough Grammar

W 50-0 v Hymers College (SC)

L 31-12 at Woodhouse Grove


Tournament History – Cup Winners 1997, Cup Runners Cup 1996, Plate Winners 2017, Plate Runners Up 2015, 2014, 2006, & 2002


Last Year – Plate Winners


Last year’s plate champion are having a tougher year than expected, but they have a strong record in this tournament. While the first day might not be their friend, the second day certainly is, QEGS have reached the Plate final in three of the past four years. Often given a tough opening day draw, they might sense a whiff of a chance at a Cup run this time around if they can get back to the form that took them to last year’s schools cup final.


Seaford College


Form this Year – P8 W6 L2

L 19-12 v Hampton

W 50-13 at Richard Collyer (SC)

W 32-11 at Eastbourne College

W 66-11 v Emanuel

W 66-17 at Christ’s Hospital (SC)

W 63-3 at Lord Wandsworth College

L 45-3 v Whitgift

W 68-9 v Gordons


Tournament History – Tournament Debut


Last Year – N/A


Seaford come into the tournament as a late replacement for the Irish side Cisterian College and they arrive with an excellent body of work behind them so far this season with six wins out of eight. Only Hampton and Whitgift have beaten them, to very fine sides. Making it through to the Cup Groups in their debut year would be a massive achievement, but if the play like they have at times this season, it is well within the bounds of possibility.


Hurstpierpoint College


Form this Year – P8 W6 L2

W 52-12 v Skinners

W 26-11 at Bedford (CT)

L 13-3 v Cranleigh

W 26-22 at St John’s, Leatherhead

W 24-7 at Eastbourne College (CT)

W 15-14 v Reed’s

L 31-23 at Brighton College

W 22-13 at Tonbridge


Tournament History – Tournament Debut in 2017


Last Year – Plate 3rd/4th – 2nd Plate Group W


Last year was Hurstpierpoint’s debut and they performed well, finishing second in their day 2 group in the Plate behind losing Plate finalists Eltham College. This year though ambitions are set much higher you sense. They will be targeting making the Day 2 Cup Groups and with the season they are having you would have to say they are in with a strong shout. Their 6 wins from 8 games record matches Seaford’s, but the average quality of opponent they have faced has been slightly better – their game at 9am on Pitch 1 on Saturday kicks off the tournament, and could be the key in this Group.


Who do we think will progress to the Cup Groups? Dulwich College & Hurstpierpoint College




Group 2




Form this Year – P6 W6

W 36-13 at Sherborne

W 36-20 at Bromsgrove

W 20-14 v Wellington College

W 15-12 at Clifton College

W 80-0 v RGS High Wycombe

W 60-3 v Canford


Tournament History – Winners 2014, 2012, 2006, 2004, 1993, & 1990, Runners Up 2017, 2008, 2007, 2000, & 1994, Plate Runners Up 1995


Last Year – Cup Runners Up


Millfield arrive at St Joseph’s will the favourites tag around their necks after a flying start to the season that has seen them win six games out of six, including beating Wellington College. They have a stunning record in this tournament, winning it six times and coming second five, including in last year’s final. Ultimately they were outplayed in that final by a brilliant Brighton College performance, but that will likely only serve to motivate them further here. Like Dulwich, they play a brand of rugby that yields plenty of tries, perfectly suiting it to the demands of the Festival.


RGS High Wycombe


Form this Year – P5 L5

L 40-12 at Brighton College

L 39-5 at Berkhamsted

L 34-22 v Hampton

L 19-17 at St Paul’s

L 80-0 at Millfield


Tournament History – Cup Winners 1999, Runners Up 2015, 2013, & 1998 Plate Winners 2012, 2010, 1997, 1988, & 1987


Last Year – Plate 5th/6th – 3rd Plate Group W


It has not been a vintage year for RGS as yet, but they love this tournament and always seem to produce. Twice in the last five years they have reached the Cup final, while in 2010 and 2012 they won the Plate, something about RGS always makes them one of the most determined sides. Indeed you suspect that from worrying about having Millfield in their group after a really tough loss to them earlier in the season, RGS will relish the prospect of being able to try to avenge that.


Eltham College


Form this Year – P7 W7

W 63-7 at Colfe’s

W 28-17 v Trinity (SC)

W 10-0 v Felsted

W 71-19 at Sir Joseph Williamson’s (SC)

W 27-7 v Ravens Wood

W 19-10 at Campion

W 43-16 v Judd


Tournament History – Plate Runners Up 2017, 1989 & 1987


Last Year – Plate Runners Up


Last year was a strong one for Eltham College as they finished runners up in the Plate, but they will have their sights set even higher this year. They arrive unbeaten after a superb start to the season and will surely be targeting the Cup groups. It is a fair enough aim, so far they have been sensational and have beaten some good sides, not least Felsted. Some games here will be a step up, but there is no doubt this group will be up for the challenge and confident. It looks likely that their 9.40am game with Denstone College will be key to their aims.


Denstone College


From this Year – P4 W2 L2

L 27-19 at Woodhouse Grove

L 26-17 v Sedbergh

W 31-25 at Solihull

W 45-21 v Langley


Tournament History – Plate Winners 2015


Last Year – 7th/8th – 4th Cup Group A


From Plate winners in 2015 Denstone College have slowly risen, but they will want to improve on last year’s Cup groups showing where they finished bottom of their Day 2 group. The signs are there that if they can get out of this Day 1 group then they have every chance of stepping up even higher, but in a group like this it will not do well to dwell on more than the next game. They are a little shy of game time, but what game time there has been has looked impressive. They may have lost a couple, but against Woodhouse Grove and Sedbergh there is no shame there and those experiences will have them prepared for what’s to come from some quarters. A top quality side in the making.


Who do we think will progress to the Cup Groups? Millfield & Denstone College




Group 3


Brighton College


Form this Year – P6 W4 L2

W 40-12 v RGS High Wycombe

L 16-7 at Trinity

L 22-17 v Dulwich College

W 24-17 at St John’s, Leatherhead

W 31-23 v Hurstpierpoint College

W 15-7 v Cranleigh


Tournament History – Cup Winners 2017, Runners Up 2016, Plate Winners 2014 & 2002


Last Year – Champions


The reigning champions and unbeaten since 2015 having also reached the 2016 final, which ended in a draw. Brighton College are a top class side and are another of those whose style suits St Jo’s perfectly. Their players love the tournament and are always desperate to do well, and you can be sure that they will all be well rested and perfectly prepared for the weekend. They have dropped a couple of games in recent times but with both being close and their willingness to move players around and keep them fresh, you can be sure that that won’t be worrying them. Among the two or three favourites again this year.


St Peter’s, York


Form this Year – P6 W3 L3

L 38-14 at Sedbergh

W 10-3 at Durham (SC)

W 26-5 at QEGS Wakefield

L 19-17 v Durham

W 36-12 at Worksop College

L 32-15 v Woodhouse Grove


Tournament History – Tournament Debut


A new addition to the tournament this year, St Peter’s York replace their namesakes from Gloucester and bring a strong reputation. Over the last couple of years they have been one of the strongest sides in schools rugby. They are unlucky to be in a bit of a ‘group of death’ this year, but having played the likes of Sedbergh already this season, that will not phase them at all. St Peter’s ought to be a great new addition to the tournament.


RGS Newcastle


Form this Year – P9 W7 L2

W 38-7 v Dame Allan’s

W 36-0 v Barnard Castle (SC)

L 27-12 v Woodhouse Grove

W 25-12 v Lindesfarne College (N.Z Tourists)

W 17-0 at Grammar School at Leeds

W 50-0 at East Durham College (SC)

L 31-18 v Sedbergh

W 29-10 v Durham

W 14-10 at George Watson’s College


Tournament History – Plate Runners Up 2013


Last Year – 5th/6th – 3rd Cup Group B


A really good year for RGS Newcastle as they reached the Cup stages and performed well, winning one, drawing one, and losing one on the final day as they made a massive push. They will be hoping for more of the same this year and with a record that has only seen two of the very best in the country beat them, Woodhouse Grove and Sedbergh, they have every chance of achieving that. It is a horrible group to be in, but as ever at St Jo’s – everyone has to do it the hard way.




Form this Year – P6 W5 L1

W 19-12 at Seaford College

W 25-21 v Dulwich College (CT)

W 34-22 at RGS High Wycombe

L 10-3 v Bromsgrove

W 57-10 v St Albans (CT)

W 52-7 at John Fisher


Tournament History – Cup Winners 2015, Plate Winners 2016


Last Year – 5th/6th – 3rd Cup Group A


Hampton returned to the Cup Groups last year after winning the Plate the year before, which came hot on the heels of being overall champions in 2015. This year they are among the favourites after a strong campaign to date that has seen them win five from six, including last week’s stunning last play victory over Dulwich College. Winning this group may actually be the key in unlocking a route to the final if all goes as planned, but that is a task far easier said than done for all.


Who do we think will progress to the Cup Groups? Brighton College & Hampton




Group 4


John Fisher


Form this Year – P6 W3 L3

L 41-5 v Whitgift

L 15-14 v Wimbledon College (SC)

W 67-21 v London Oratory (SC)

W 10-7 v Skinners’

W 22-20 at Trinity

L 52-7 v Hampton


Tournament History – Cup Winners 2009, Runners Up 2012


Last Year – Plate 5th/6th – 3rd Plate Group X


John Fisher have a strong history in this tournament, including their Cup win in 2009. Last year was not their best year though as they struggled in the Plate competition, however knowing John Fisher that will serve as huge motivation ahead of this year’s Festival. Their season has been even so far with three wins and three defeats, and in a relatively open group they will be targeting a return to the Cup if the possibly can.


Merchiston Castle


Form this Year – P5 W5

W 50-5 at Glenalmond College (SSC)

W 71-7 at Morrison’s Academy (SSC)

W 52-19 at Strathallan

W 63-7 v Stewart’s Melville

W 52-7 at Dollar Academy


Tournament History – Plate Runners Up 1997


Last Year – 3rd/4th – 2nd Cup Group B


Last year was an excellent one for Merchiston Castle as they played some sparkling rugby and ended up finishing in second behind eventual Runners Up Millfield in Cup Group B. This year they will be looking for more of the same after five wins from five and to be honest five pretty simple wins from five. Life will get tougher at the Festival, it always is, but carrying in that sort of form will surely have Merchiston feeling confident of a Cup run.


St Joseph’s College


Form this Year – P3 D1 L2

L 35-33 at Langley (SP)

L 39-0 v Kirkham Grammar

D 22-22 v Norwich


Tournament History – Cup Winners 2013, 2010, & 1995, Runners Cup 2014, Plate Winners 2003, Plate Runners Up 2016, 2005, & 1993


Last Year – 7th/8th – 4th Cup Group B


St Joseph’s have not got masses of form or games under their belt but that really does not matter. This Festival is their focal point of the season, of the entire school year to an extent really. With hundreds, if not thousands, of people backing them their performances are always raised and full of emotion at this Festival and so it will prove again this year. Since 2010 they have won the Cup twice and reached the Cup and Plate finals as runners up once each. Only Millfield can match that sort of recent record. If you do nothing else on this Festival weekend, watch one of St Joseph’s games, it is an atmosphere quite unlike anything else you will see in schools rugby.

Whitchurch High School


Form this Year – P6 W2 L3 1TBA

TBA v Coleg Sir Gar

L 33-25 at Cardiff & Vale College

W 20-17 at Coleg Llandrillo

W 44-36 at Pembrokeshire College

L 15-7 v Coleg Gwent

L 25-22 v Llandovery College


Tournament History – Tournament Debut in 2015


Last Year – Plate 3rd/4th – 2nd Plate Group X


Whitchurch performed well in the Plate last year and look as though they are having a decent season in the Welsh Schools league this year, a brutal league if ever there was one. They have won two and lost three, but been close in all three defeats. They will arrive at the tournament with the most recent game experience behind them too, they face Coleg Sir Gar on Wednesday evening before heading to the Festival.


Who do we think will progress to the Cup groups? Merchiston Castle & St Joseph’s College


[poll id=”388″]


2018 St Joseph’s Festival Day 1 Groups


Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
Dulwich College Millfield Brighton College John Fisher
QEGS Wakefield RGS High Wycome St Peter’s York Merchiston Castle
Seaford College Eltham College RGS Newcastle St Joseph’s College
Hurstpierpoint Denstone College Hampton Whitchurch HS


2018 St Joseph’s Festival Day 1 Fixtures


Pitch 1 Time Pitch 2
Hurstpierpoint v Seaford College 09.00 Dulwich College v QEGS Wakefield
Denstone College v Eltham College 09.40 Millfield v RGS High Wycombe
Hampton v RGS Newcastle 10.20 Brighton College v St Peter’s, York
St Joseph’s College v Whitchurch 11.00 John Fisher v Merchiston Castle
Dulwich College v Seaford College 11.40 Hurstpierpoint v QEGS Wakefield
Eltham College v Millfield 12.20 Denstone v RGS High Wycombe
Brighton College v RGS Newcastle 13.00 Hampton v St Peter’s, York
John Fisher v St Joseph’s College 13.40 Merchiston Castle v Whitchurch
QEGS Wakefield v Seaford College 14.20 Dulwich College v Hurstpierpoint
Eltham v RGS High Wycombe 15.00 Denstone College v Millfield
RGS Newcastle v St Peter’s, York 15.40 Brighton College v Hampton
Merchiston Castle v St Joseph’s 16.20 John Fisher v Whitchurch


2018 St Joseph’s Festival Day 2 Groups


Group A (Cup) Group B (Cup) Group X (Plate) Group Y (Plate)
Winner Group A Winner Group C 3rd Place Group A 3rd Place Group C
Winner Group B Winner Group D 3rd Place Group B 3rd Place Group D
Runner Up Grp C Runner Up Grp A 4th Place Group C 4th Place Group A
Runner Up Grp D Runner Up Grp B 4th Place Group D 4th Place Group B


2018 St Joseph’s Festival Day 2 Fixtures


Pitch 1 Time Pitch 2
Plate Final – 15.30 – Pitch 1
Cup Final – 16.15 – Pitch 1
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