Schools Rugby Weekend Preview: Saturday 28th September

Another weekend approaches fast, and with it another schools rugby fixture list that is packed with exciting head to heads.

 

The Schools Cup kicked off in midweek, and along with it there were dozens and dozens of other exciting fixtures, and as such a number of schools take the weekend off. However it was hardly dampened the fixture list.

 

As we move into this last weekend of September, some of the patterns for the season are beginning to emerge, one of which is that across the board this is a very competitive school season, with a feeling that a number of schools have stepped up a level. We are also beginning to see who the movers and shakers right at the very top end will be, and it seems as though it includes a number of sides that are not always there.

 

Each week we are being treated to some fantastic games of rugby, and this week looks likely to bring the same. Here we take a look at the weekend’s fixtures, starting as ever with our ten ‘Focus On’ fixtures.

 

Focus On

 

Barnard Castle v Woodhouse Grove

 

Barnard Castle have started the season off sensationally. In two game they are yet to concede a point and have scored 116 of their own, it has been seriously impressive. However Woodhouse Grove will be their toughest test yet by far. The men in green may have lost two of their opening three fixtures but they were to St Peter’s York, a top side, and Sedbergh, already looking like one of the top two or three in the country again. In both games they gave a good account of themselves and they will believe that if they can keep performing like they have been that the win/loss column will turn in their favour. What it does do though is set up for a fantastic encounter that could go either way.

 

Prediction: Woodhouse Grove

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Berkhamsted v Abingdon

 

Berkhamsted are looking strong once again this year. A narrow opening weekend loss to Harrow has been followed by good victories over Eton College and KCS Wimbledon, playing some fantastic rugby in the process. In Abingdon they face a challenge though, the Oxford side kicked off the campaign with a derby win over Teddies and were in strong form in the Cup in midweek. They lost narrowly to St Paul’s, who are looking a strong side themselves which appears to set up for a contest that should be an even and engaging one on Saturday afternoon.

 

Prediction: Berkhamsted

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Campion v Northampton School for Boys

 

These two have both really impressed us so far this season. Campion have won three out of three and have conceded just seven points in total, confidence must be sky high and thoughts of a brilliant season overall must be in mind. In Northampton School for Boys though they face another side that is performing to a really high standard. Yes, they were given a bit of a torrid time by Wellington College, but that was easily their toughest non-Cup fixture in years. More importantly, they learned from that right away and have responded with back to back performances that have been outstanding at 49-12 and 45-12 respectively. This one should be closer, both are looking good and entertainment should be high.

 

Prediction: Northampton School for Boys

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Dulwich College v Brighton College

 

Always a fun fixture and one that also tends to produce a really good game. Dulwich have bounced back really well from a tough start at Wellington College, with superb performances at St Joseph’s and Harrow, now they take to their magnificent 1st XV pitch for the first time the season and will be eager to continue that form. In Brighton College they face a side that is playing some lovely rugby too, good wins over St John’s Leatherhead and Hurstpierpoint College were followed by an emotional yet fun charity game against Cardinal Newman last week. Both sides play exciting rugby and are coached to try things so, above all else, expect plenty of exciting rugby on Saturday.

 

Prediction: Brighton College

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Hampton v RGS High Wycombe

 

This one should be really interesting Hampton started with a good performance against John Fisher and a strong showing in the triangular with Tonbridge and St John’s but came unstuck against Cranleigh last time out. RGS meanwhile almost came unstuck against Reading Blue Coat but then exploded into life with a magnificent victory over Millfield. Last week’s game was lost to hard ground but they were in strong form again in midweek in the Cup. In years gone by these two have produced some outstanding matches, one Cup quarter final in driving rain at Maidenhead being particularly memorable, but this one could be too. Recent history puts Hampton as favourites, but that RGS performance against Millfield looms over this, should they repeat the trick they will have everyone talking once again.

 

Prediction: Hampton

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Marlborough College v Sherborne

 

Sherborne are on fire so far this year. Six, yes six, points conceded in three games, yet to concede a try and having scored 116 of their own. It’s a remarkable record so far. However Marlborough College ought to be their toughest opponent yet, especially on their home patch. They may have lost out to Cheltenham College last week, but prior to that things were looking rosy for them. Saturday will be an interesting one for both though. Another strong performance from Sherborne and people really have to sit up and take notice, a strong one from Marlborough and the same will apply for them as Sherborne are starting to look like a very good scalp to have.

 

Prediction: Sherborne

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Sedbergh v Denstone College (Friday)

 

The weekend’s action kicks off at 4.30pm on Friday at Sedbergh’s magnificent Buskhome 1st XV pitch. It pits two sides together that have been utterly brilliant up to this point. Sedbergh so far are showing no indications that they are not every bit as capable as their predecessors of the last two seasons with strong victories over Whitgift, RGS Newcastle, and Woodhouse Grove. Three top quality sides. However Denstone College should be another tough challenge. They are a lesser known quantity, purely because their opponents have not been at the same level, however they can only be taken on what they have done and what they have done is magnificent, 52-3 over King’s Macclesfield and 47-17 over Solihull, and their 2nd XV recorded a similar victory over Worksop’s 1st XV. They are a seriously strong side. It makes for an exciting game on Friday, one that both sides are rightly eagerly anticipating.

 

Prediction: Sedbergh

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Uppingham v Oakham

 

The Rutland derby and what a Rutland derby it looks set to be. Two schools that share so much, including a crest and founding headmaster, yet results in this fixture really have really not been shared. Uppingham last beat Oakham back in 2009…the current U6th were only just starting Prep School. Yet if ever there were a whiff of an opportunity for Uppingham they must sense it here, three out of three so far this term, just three points conceded and 119 scored, they are flying right now. Oakham are a different beast though, the dominant Rugby School’s closest challengers this season and victors against Stamford, a side that have beaten a very good Bromsgrove team, and a school that loves this fixture. It feels like a game that could go either way, and that is great news for this fixture.

 

Prediction: Uppingham

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Wellington College v Millfield

 

Two of the most famous rugby schools not just in the country, but in the world. Where we have all heard of Auckland Grammar or Paarl Boys or Bishops, so they have heard of Wellington College and Millfield. These two produce some classics, there was a period around 2013, 2014, 2015 when games between these two, in 15s or in 7s, were arguably better than some of what we see in the lower reaches of the pro game. It was spectacular to watch. Saturday will be massive, and the Bigside stand at Wellington will be packed. Wellington College are off to a flyer, Dulwich College, Northampton School for Boys, and Whitgift all pretty soundly beaten. It has been formidable. Millfield’s start has been trickier, in part due to a busy schedule and rotation, but they will be striving for better. Canford and South African side Martizburg have been beaten, but either side of that game they lost narrowly to RGS High Wycombe, and relatively soundly in horrendous conditions on Tuesday night to Clifton College. Yet you sense there are gears to go through, and if we get that top gear on Saturday the results on the field could be spectacular.

 

Prediction: Wellington College

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Whitgift v Warwick

 

If you are not excited about this one, you were not paying attention last season. The last time these two met was in the very last game of last season, at Twickenham Stadium in the Schools Cup final, where Whitgift ended Warwick’s two year reign as champions with a magnificent 32-22 victory. It was their second victory over Warwick that season, they had won a thrilling corresponding game to this one, 23-19. Warwick will be fully charged to avenge that, no matter that players have changed, they will be fired up for this. Both come in with similar records, they have each faced two ‘top’ teams and lost to both, Whitgift to Sedbergh and Wellington, Warwick to Bromsgrove and Harrow, but have looked good in their others. Now they meet at Whitgift on Saturday in a massive game, and do not rule them meeting once again further down the line in the Cup too. It should be fascinating and intense.

 

Prediction: Warwick

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Around the Grounds

 

Of course, as if those ten games were not enough, the action keeps on coming in thick and fast all over the country across the weekend. Cheltenham College v Blundell’s has the feel of a cracking encounter, both have had decent starts to the year and with the momentum built off a good performance in this one the could really kick on.

 

It is really worth keeping an eye on the goings on at Hurstpierpoint College on Saturday. They have bags of promise but are yet to pick up a victory so far and they will be itching to do so on Saturday. However St John’s Leatherhead are not an easy side to do it against, just ask Eltham, and they ran Brighton College closer than Hurst did. It ought to be a cracking game.

 

Bishop Wordsworth’s have had a tough start to the year and will be eager to pick up, but on Saturday they face a Seaford College side that is in absolutely fantastic form so far this year and are looking like there are few sides that they will not cause problems for.

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Stamford meanwhile are riding the crest of a wave after that dramatic victory last week against Bromsgrove. On Saturday they travel to a Bedford side that have had a tough start but that will be desperate to turn that around.

 

Kirkham Grammar have started the year off just about as well as anyone, they are unbeaten and in strong form. Last week they faced their toughest test yet, against Sir Thomas Rich’s, but came through unscathed, Saturday will be another test though at unbeaten Lancaster RGS.

 

Perhaps the result of the weekend last week was Aylesbury Grammar’s defeat of St Edward’s Oxford. On Saturday they look to add to that when they travel to Reading Blue Coat, who started off the season really brightly, albeit with a tough Cup game at Abingdon in midweek.

 

St Albans also quietly performed brilliantly last weekend, beating a good Bloxham side. They are back in action this weekend with a trip to St Benedict’s. Another game worth keeping an eye on comes in East Anglia, where Felsted travel to New Hall for a game that has seen some cracking encounters in recent times.

 

Bromsgrove bounced back well from that heartbreaker at Stamford last week with a Cup win on Wednesday. On Saturday they head to Solihull looking to back that up and keep to the form that has been so impressive in these opening weeks. As has St Paul’s, who ran what appears a brilliant Epsom side close in the opening week and then beat Abingdon. They travel to Radley College, whose only game so far was a tricky loss at Sherborne, but they will not be the only side to face that fate. This is one of the oldest fixtures in all of school rugby, and ought to be a fantastic match.

 

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It is also really worth keeping an eye on John Fisher’s trip to Wimbledon College. Wimbledon College have only lost once so far this year, to Whitgift, and have looked very good elsewhere. John Fisher have also impressed though, and that leaves this feeling like a key game that could do either way.

 

Friday

 

In addition to Sedbergh v Denstone College, there are some other key games on Friday, not least a Schools Cup clash between Trinity and Langley Park. It is a London & South East B clash, and the winner gets the honour of a trip to the reigning Champions, Whigift, in the next round after their 78-0 defeat of St Olave’s

 

Meanwhile in the Vase Parmiter’s host QES Barnet in Round 2 of London & South East A, though there is some while to wait until they find out their third round opponent. Friday’s other game is also a knockout game, in the first round of the Bowl as Wymondham College host Woodbridge in Midlands B.

 

As we say every season and every week, please do get in touch with your stories, photos, videos, reports, and opinions from the week’s rugby. It all makes a massive difference and allows us to feature your school and your team! You can get in touch via any of the below methods:

 

Twitter: @FifteenRugbyXV

Facebook: www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby

Instagram: @fifteenrugbyxv

Email: writers@fifteenrugby.com

 

Schools Rugby Weekend Fixtures – Saturday 28th September (predictions in bold):

 

Focus On

 

Barnard Castle v Woodhouse Grove

Berkhamsted v Abingdon

Campion v Northampton SfB

Dulwich College v Brighton College

Hampton v RGS High Wycombe

Marlborough College v Sherborne

Sedbergh v Denstone College (Friday)

Uppingham v Oakham

Wellington College v Millfield

Whitgift v Warwick

 

Saturday

 

Bancroft’s v Haberdashers’

Bedford v Stamford

Birkdale v Ratcliffe College

Bishop Wordworth’s v Seaford College

Bristol Cathedral v Clifton HS
Bryanston v KES Bath

Caterham v Reigate GS

Cheltenham College v Blundell’s

Churcher’s College v Portsmouth GS

City of London Freemen’s v Sevenoaks

Colfe’s v Sutton Valence

Durham v Newcastle SfB

Eastbourne College v Reed’s

Edinburgh Academy v Dundee HS

Exeter v Plymouth College

Gresham’s v St Joseph’s College

Hurstpierpoint College v St John’s Leatherhead

Hymers College v Bradford GS

KES Southampton v Ryde

KES Stratford v KES Birmingham

King’s College, Taunton v Wellington

King’s Gloucester v The Crypt

King’s Worcester v Sir Thomas Rich’s

Lancaster RGS v Kirkham GS

London Oratory v St George’s Harpenden

Lymm HS v Wilmslow HS

Manchester GS v Bolton

Merchant Taylors’ (Crosby) v King’s Macclesfield

Merchant Taylors’ (Northwood) v Magdalen College

Mill Hill v St Columba’s College

Monmouth v Bristol GS

New Hall v Felsted

Norwich v RGS Colchester

Pate’s GS v RGS Worcester

Princethorpe College v Bablake

QEGS Wakefield v Loughborough GS

QEH v Taunton

Queen’s College, Taunton v West Buckland

Radley College v St Paul’s

Reading Blue Coat v Aylesbury GS

RGS Guildford v Emanuel

RGS Newcastle v Grammar School at Leeds

Richard Hale v Coopers’ Coborn

Royal Hospital School v Oundle

Sandbach v Cheadle Hulme

Sir Joseph Williamson’s v Chislehurst & Sidcup GS

Solihull v Bromsgrove

St Ambrose College v Stockport GS

St Benedict’s v St Albans

St Dunstan’s College v Dunottar

Stewart’s Melville v Merchiston Castle

Strathallan v Dollar Academy

Tiffin v Halliford

UCS v The Oratory

Wallington CGS v Dartford GS

Wimbledon College v John Fisher

Windsor Boys’ v Latymer Upper

Wirral GS v Hutton GS

Yarm v Ampleforth College

 

Friday

 

Parmiter’s v QES, Barnet (Schools Vase)

Trinity v Langley Park (Schools Cup)

Wymondham College v Woodbridge (Schools Bowl)

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