The opening day of the 2019 St Joseph’ Festival certainly lived up to expectation as one of the most open Festivals in recent memory unfolded in front of us.
The additions of heavyweight school sides Wellington College and Kirkham Grammar School were almost impossibly hyped, chiefly by us, but that hype became quickly justified as both secured perfect records to finish top of their groups and head into Sunday’s Cup Groups.
Those Cup groups, by the way, see the top two teams from each of Saturday’s groups split into two groups of four, with the winner of those playing the final on Sunday afternoon. Similarly, third and fourth in today’s groups head to tomorrow’s Plate, where those group winners will meet in the Plate Final.
Joining Kirkham and Wellington as group winners are Denstone College and the reigning champions, RGS Newcastle, who both also went through with perfect records of three wins from three games.
All four of those unbeaten sides look like De La Salle Trophy contenders, having played some outstanding rugby between them. Indeed what was consistent across the board was their ability to grind up front, something that was key for RGS Newcastle in their drive to the title last year.
Perhaps the story of the day though was in Group 3, where Whitchurch High School ended up as the side to join group winners Wellington College in the Cup Groups on Sunday. It is their fifth time at the Festival and their first time making it to the Cup, but what a nervy experience it was for all.
Below Wellington, Whitchurch, Hurstpierpoint, and Millfield all had one win and two defeats, with Try Count proving the deciding factor between them. Wellington beat all three, but Whitchurch had beat Hurstpierpoint, with Hurstpierpoint beating Millfield. That meant it all boiled down to the final round of games, Hurstpierpoint went down to Wellington College, leaving their try total for the day at 5. Whitchurch and Millfield meanwhile were going hammer and tong against each other, Millfield came out on top, 17-10, leaving them on four tries, but it turning out to be Whitchurch’s dominant win for Hurstpierpoint that did it for them, seeing them into the Cup on 6 tries. That left Millfield, the most successful side ever at the Festival, looking at a place in the Plate on Sunday.
Group 2 was also pretty tasty, Brighton College followed Denstone into Sunday’s Cup but only by a point after a draw against John Fisher in their final game. Fortunately for them, Denstone College made it 3 from 3 against St Peter’s York, leaving them with just one victory to their name for the day.
Back up to Group 1 where Kirkham Grammar went through top, it was Hampton that followed them through. Kirkham had beaten Hampton in the opening game with a last play try for a 7-3 victory. But Hampton’s response was outstanding, scoring 81 points across their next two games against Dulwich College and QEGS Wakefield, almost as if to prove a point that they were one of the favourites for this. After a performance like that, it is hard not to think that they have a huge chance.
Finally to Group 4, which contained the champions, RGS Newcastle, and the hosts, St Joseph’s College. RGS Newcastle wen through unbeaten, and it was St Joseph’s that followed them through but not after some tough games against both Eltham College and very tough RGS High Wycombe side. With feverish home support, buoyed by Lewis Ludlam’s, their former captain, 12 minutes for England in their quarter final, the atmosphere was electric and the crowds huge. In Sunday’s Cup groups, that atmosphere could carry them a long long way, we have certainly seen it before!
To those Sunday Groups, and in Cup Group A Kirkham Grammar School and Denstone College are together as winners from groups 1 and two today. Both a real title contenders but they are joined by two sides that probably epitomise the unpredictability and passion of this tournament, in Whitchurch High School and St Joseph’s College. Whitchurch must surely think that anything could happen at this point after such a hugely dramatic day, while home side St Joseph’s College are always a threat to any side, such is the emotion. So too their play, their attacking verve was a joy at times.
Live Stream – Pitch 1, Day 2
Cup Group B contains Wellington College and RGS Newcastle as day 1 group winners, both have every chance in this tournament. Wellington are many people’s favourites around the grounds but life will be tricky, and RGS Newcastle have been fantastic, and as reigning champions they know exactly how to do it. If you want an idea of how tough this competition is going to be though, take a look at the two sides joining them, Hampton and Brighton. Hampton in their second two games looked as though they were playing on a level beyond almost anyone, they must be feeling hugely confident meanwhile. Brighton College meanwhile probably feel they have not really clicked yet, and yet here they are in the Cup groups, that surely makes them very very dangerous tomorrow.
Live Stream – Pitch 2, Day 2
Meanwhile in the Plate, the strength of the pools reflects exactly how much quality there is this competition this year. Plate Group W sees two former champions, and massive heavyweights, in Dulwich College and Millfield. Joining them are St Peter’s York and Eltham College. In any other year you could look at that and say it’s a Cup group. This group could produce some absolute fireworks.
As could Plate Group X, which again includes former champions in RGS High Wycombe, QEGS Wakefield, and John Fisher, as well as one of last year’s Cup stars, Hurstpierpoint College. Like Plate Group W, this Plate Group X could be absolutely spectacular on Sunday and the Plate final is already looking as though it could be of a Cup standard.
Bring on Day 2, if Day 1 is anything to go by, we are in for a sensational day of rugby!
Groups, Fixtures, & Info
St Joseph’s Festival Day 2 Groups:
|Cup A||Cup B||Plate W||Plate X|
|Kirkham Grammar||Wellington College||Dulwich College||Hurstpierpoint College|
|Denstone College||RGS Newcastle||St Peter’s, York||RGS High Wycombe|
|Whitchurch High School||Hampton||Millfield||QEGS Wakefield|
|St. Joseph’s College||Brighton College||Eltham College||John Fisher|
St Joseph’s Festival Day 2 Schedule:
|Pitch 1||Time & Group||Pitch 2|
|Dulwich College v Eltham College||08.30am
|St Peter’s, York v Millfield|
|Kirkham Grammar v St Joseph’s College||9.05am
|Denstone College v Whitchurch High School|
|Hurstpierpoint College v John Fisher||09.40am
|RGS High Wycombe v QEGS Wakefield|
|Wellington College v Brighton College||10.15am
|RGS Newcastle v Hampton|
|Dulwich College v Millfield||10.50am
|St Peter’s, York v Eltham College|
|Denstone College v St Joseph’s College||11.25pm
|Kirkham Grammar v Whitchurch High School|
|Hurstpierpoint College v QEGS Wakefield||12.00pm
|RGS High Wycombe v John Fisher|
|Wellington College v Hampton||12.35pm
|RGS Newcastle v Brighton College|
|Dulwich College v St Peter’s, York||1.10pm
|Millfield v Eltham College|
|Whitchurch High School v St Joseph’s College||1.45pm
|Kirkham Grammar v Denstone College|
|Hurstpierpoint College v RGS High Wycombe||2.20pm
|QEGS Wakefield v John Fisher|
|Wellington College v RGS Newcastle||2.55pm
|Hampton v Brighton College|
|Winner W v Winner X||3.30pm
|Winner A v Winner B||4.15pm
St Joseph’s Festival Day 1 Final Group Standings:
|3||St Peter’s, York||1||0||2||2|
|2||Whitchurch High School||1||0||2||2|
|2||St Joseph’s College||2||0||1||4|
|3||RGS High Wycombe||1||0||2||2|
St Joseph’s Festival Day 1 Results:
|Pitch 1||Time & Group||Pitch 2|
|Hampton 3-7 Kirkham Grammar||9.00am
|Dulwich College 10-7 QEGS Wakefield|
|John Fisher 10-13 St Peter’s York||9.40am
|Brighton College 5-14 Denstone College|
|Hurstpierpoint College 14-10 Millfield||10.20am
|Wellington College 41-0 Whitchurch HS|
|RGS High Wycombe 14-17 St Joseph’s College||11.00am
|Eltham College 3-26 RGS Newcastle|
|Hampton 40-0 QEGS Wakefield||11.40am
|Dulwich College 0-15 Kirkham Grammar|
|Brighton College 29-5 St Peter’s York||12.20pm
|Denstone College 17-8 John Fisher|
|Millfield 3-12 Wellington College||1.00pm
|Hurstpierpoint College 7-31 Whitchurch HS|
|RGS Newcastle 15-6 St Joseph’s College||1.40pm
|Eltham College 7-12 RGS High Wycombe|
|Dulwich College 0-41 Hampton||2.20pm
|Kirkham Grammar 12-3 QEGS Wakefield|
|Denstone College 15-0 St Peter’s York||3.00pm
|Brighton College 12-12 John Fisher|
|Millfield 17-10 Whitchurch HS||3.40pm
|Hurstpierpoint College 14-22 Wellington College|
|Eltham College 12-31 St Joseph’s College||4.20pm
|RGS High Wycombe 10-25 RGS Newcastle|