The eyes of the world might have been on the opening weekend of the Rugby World Cup, but on the school playing fields there was plenty of entertainment to be had too.
Hard grounds cost us a few games, an unavoidable reality but a huge shame for those who lost fixtures and a frustration given the inevitable loss of games in a few months for the opposite issue, waterlogged pitches.
Most games did go ahead though and the action was absolutely outstanding, not least in our featured ‘Focus On’ games.
On Friday night Brighton College and Cardinal Newman met for the Noah Rees Foundation Game. Over £2000 was raised on the night in support of Rees, a pupil at Cardinal Newman, who suffered life altering injuries in an accident. Over fifty boys played on the night, with Brighton College pupil Bradley Holmes turning out for both sides have moved from Cardinal Newman to Brighton for 6th form.
Saturday saw another emotional game as Wellington College hosted Whitgift in the Seb Adeniran-Olule Foundation Game, Seb was a former pupil at both schools who sadly died a few years ago in an accident. A lunch and auction took place ahead of the game, which was played in a fantastic spirit, Wellington College performing particularly impressively for a 31-8 victory on the day, but ultimately the day was about so much more.
Back to Friday night where there was a another massive game as Sedbergh hosted Woodhouse Grove. Sedbergh, so dominant for the last two years especially, have started the season sensationally but Woodhouse Grove had the tools to test them. Ultimately though the men in brown simply had too much once again, securing another fantastic win, 39-11.
Kirkham Grammar School also maintained their flying start to the season but they were made to work for it by Sir Thomas Rich’s in by far their toughest challenge so far, winning 29-20.
RGS High Wycombe v St Paul’s was sadly lost to the hard grounds, but QEGS Wakefield were able to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Woodhouse Grove with an exciting 29-21 victory at King’s Macclesfield.
There was a famous victory for Haileybury over old rivals Oundle. They were on top from start to finish but dogged Oundle defence and profligate handling from the visitors meant they didn’t get the early rewards they deserved. Oundle held Haileybury up over the line on several occasions and it looked like it would be enough, having scored an excellent first half try to lead 5-0. However Haileybury came strong at the death and fly half Louis Aylwin scored a try and conversion to give them a 7-5 lead with minutes to go. Before Phoenix Healy got an interception try, which Aylwin converted to seal a hard fought 14-5 victory for Haileybury.
Elsewhere this brilliant start to the season from Campion continued with another determined victory for them, 15-0 over Trinity. In three games so far this season Campion have conceded just 7 points, a remarkable record.
Also playing right at the top of their game at the moment are Cranleigh, who made it three from three on Saturday with a superb 24-14 victory at home to Hampton, a result that really backs up the feeling that they are going to be one of the very best this year.
Dulwich College are also really impressing, a tough opener against Wellington College has since been followed by a strong win over St Joseph’s College and an absolute thriller against Harrow on Saturday, 27-24. It was a stunning game, and the second week in a row that Harrow have been involved in a 27-24 scoreline, this time though they were on the wrong side of the result having previously beaten Warwick by the same score.
Around the Grounds
Elsewhere on Saturday the action was just as good, not least in a thriller at Skinners’ where John Fisher just took the win in an incredible 33-29 game.
There was a huge share of points at Malvern College too, it was a strong win for Malvern, who scored 55, but in return Colston’s managed 22 in what was an entertaining game of rugby, not unlike another very good victory for St Peter’s York, who were 42-27 victors at Durham.
Saturday was a really special day for Wellington School, who celebrated 100 years of rugby union at the school. They celebrated in style too, enjoying a 50-0 victory over King’s Bruton. There were some other strong wins in the region too, among them a good bounceback performance from Blundell’s who were 31-0 victors at home to King’s College Taunton, and yet another superb performance from Dean Close, 40-7 over Magdalen College.
Perhaps one of the performances of the weekend was an excellent 22-17 victory for Aylesbury Grammar School over St Edward’s Oxford. It caps an excellent start to the season for Aylesbury but this was by far their biggest test an in a really tense encounter they secured a huge scalp in the form of Teddies. Speaking of impressive victories, Norwich really stepped up on Saturday for a 25-17 defeat of St Joseph’s College.
Bradford Grammar have started the season excellently and were again on fine form as they picked up a 26-8 victory at home to Stonyhurst College, so too have Berkhamsted who were on the new surface at KCS Wimbledon and secured a very good 33-11 victory.
Northampton School for Boys put their experience against Wellington College last week to good use with a fantastic 49-12 defeat of Solihill, while Old Swinford Hospital were sensational against Trent College, winning 51-5.
The 2019/20 season gets better and better for Canford, who were in sizzling try-scoring for at Portsmouth Grammar, winning 64-0. They were far from the only ones in spectacular form though, since the build up to the season it has been pretty clear that Rugby School are a pretty special team and they simply added to that reputation on Saturday with a quite spectacular performance on Saturday at Stowe as they secured a stunning 70-14 victory. They really could be big players this season.
So too Epsom College who were once again in free-flowing form on Saturday as they put Eton College to the sword for a brilliant 44-5 victory. Around the corner St John’s Leatherhead were enjoying a similarly open afternoon as they beat Eltham College 40-0.
RGS Newcastle’s busy week concluded with an Anglo-Scots clash against Stewart’s Melville. A cracking game of rugby unfolded, but it was RGS that came out on top for a second victory of a three game week, 27-21. In Scotland, meanwhile, Dollar Academy were arguably the pick of the bunch with a 61-14 defeat of Glasgow Academy.
Bablake had an enjoyable Saturday, beating Ratcliffe College 55-12, while Shiplake College had a stunning day as they saw off Caterham 40-19 in front of a joyous home crowd. Seaford College also maintained their excellent form this year with a 60-7 victory at home to Lord Wandsworth College.
There was a spectacular spectacle at Stamford as they won in dramatic circumstances against a highly rated visiting Bromsgrove side. Stamford had dominated territory and led 11-3 heading towards the close but a pair of trys from Cameron Ritchie and Roby Hill nudged Bromsgrove in front 13-11. With the clock deep in the red though, Stamford’s Kieran Callnan stepped up from 35 metres out to seal the game with a stunning drop goal, a dramatic end to a tense and tight encounter.
St Albans were also on the winning side of a tight game as they edged out Bloxham 26-21 after a fantastic game of rugby.
Taunton meanwhile won their first Taunton derby of the year, a brilliant 55-12 effort at Queen’s College Taunton, while in Guildford Wimbledon College won a really tight one 17-13 at RGS. Tonbridge meanwhile enjoyed a good 29-19 victory over local rivals The Judd.
There was also a Schools Cup game on Saturday, a good warm up ahead of the main kick off this midweek, with Emanuel in sensational form against Tiffin to send them flying through to the next round with a 43-5 victory.
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Schools Rugby Weekend Results – Saturday 21st September:
Brighton College v Cardinal Newman (Noah Rees Foundation Game)
Campion 15-0 Trinity
Cranleigh 24-14 Hampton
Harrow 24-27 Dulwich College
King’s Macclesfield 21-29 QEGS Wakefield
Kirkham GS 29-20 Sir Thomas Rich’s
Oundle 5-14 Haileybury
RGS High Wycombe v St Paul’s – Cancelled
Sedbergh 39-11 Woodhouse Grove (Friday)
Wellington College 31-8 Whitgift (Seb Adeniran-Olule Foundation Game)
Aylesbury GS 22-17 St Edward’s, Oxford
Bedford Modern 19-22 QES, Barnet
Blundell’s 31-0 King’s College, Taunton
Bradford GS 26-8 Stonyhurst College
Bristol GS 28-23 Kingswood
Bryanston 33-10 Downside
Calday Grange GS 19-39 Cheadle Hulme
City of London Freemen’s 0-14 Reading Blue Coat
Coopers’ Coborn 22-19 St Olave’s GS
Cranbrook 14-10 Maidstone GS
Dame Allan’s 22-14 Austin Friars
Dean Close 40-7 Magdalen College
Dollar Academy 61-14 Glasgow Academy
Durham 27-42 St Peter’s, York
Ellesmere College 20-12 Wilmslow HS
Emanuel 43-5 Tiffin (Schools Cup)
Epsom College 44-5 Eton College
Fettes College 12-49 Strathallan
Gordon’s 24-14 Churcher’s College
Grammar School at Leeds 46-12 Pocklington
Gunnersbury 12-31 London Oratory
Harrogate GS 22-12 Giggleswick
Hereford Cathedral 22-43 Pate’s GS
KCS Wimbledon 11-33 Berkhamsted
KES Stratford 33-24 Nottingham HS
King’s Canterbury 12-19 Christ’s Hospital
Langley Park 42-24 Dartford GS
Latymer Upper 20-3 Cardinal Vaughan
Leicester GS 48-19 Princethorpe College
Loughborough GS 29-25 Bishop Vesey’s GS
Malvern College 55-22 Colston’s
Merchant Taylors’ 12-15 Manchester GS
Mill Hill 37-0 Haberdashers’
Northampton School for Boys 49-12 Solihull
Norwich 25-17 St Joseph’s College
Old Swinford Hospital 51-5 Trent College
Pangbourne College 49-5 Worth
Portsmouth GS 0-64 Canford
Queen Ethelburga’s 56-0 Birkdale
Queen’s College, Taunton 12-55 Taunton
Ratcliffe College 7-45 Bablake
RGS Colchester 22-24 Framlingham College
RGS Guildford 13-17 Wimbledon College
RGS Newcastle 27-21 Stewart’s Melville
Seaford College 60-7 Lord Wandsworth College
Shiplake College 40-19 Caterham
Skinners’ 29-33 John Fisher
Stamford 14-13 Bromsgrove
St Albans 26-21 Bloxham
St Benedict’s 7-40 St George’s College, Weybridge
St John’s, Leatherhead 40-0 Eltham College
Stowe 14-70 Rugby
Tonbridge 29-19 Judd
Wallington CGS 12-55 Reigate GS
Wells Cathedral 56-0 Milton Abbey
Wellington 50-0 King’s Bruton
Wisbech GS 14-57 King’s Ely
Monmouth 20-12 St Peter’s, Gloucester
Still to Come
Chislehurst & Sidcup GS v St Dunstan’s College (Friday)
Christ College v Maritzburg College (South Africa)
Dauntsey’s v KES Bath
Kelvinside Academy v Glasgow HS
Kent College v Gravesend GS
Mount St Mary’s College v Yarm
Prior Park College v Clayesmore
Richard Hale v St George’s, Harpenden
Rodillian Academy v Hymers College