The first full weekend of school rugby since the half term break also sees the return of our Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend.
What a weekend it was, too. Despite the atrocious weather that struck most of the country some outstanding rugby still managed to break out and, as we have said elsewhere a few times, the superb work of school grounds staff across the country was highlighted as almost every 1st XV game managed to go ahead. Quite a feat in some parts of the country.
The weather also helped make a number of games incredible close this weekend, and some of the teams from those games make this week’s Top 5. So, without any further ado, here is this weeks Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend.
Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend
Saturday saw Caterham secure their best result of the season and one of their top performances. The start of their season was a bit up and down but since late September their form has built up and up and up some more. Their previous three game before Saturday had not been explosive in terms of points scoring, but they had won all three and had conceded just three points, there was a sense of momentum and building. On Saturday it all came together spectacularly against Worth as that watertight defence continued as they stopped the opposition scoring for the third game out of four, while their attack was on fire. They ran in 59 points to secure by far their best result of the season, a brilliant day’s worth from Caterham and one that should leave them feeling really confident ahead of the rest of the season.
On Wednesday Epsom College were down in Devon taking on Blundell’s, who incidentally beat Millfield on Saturday, in a Champions Trophy quarter final. They won 20-0 and played brilliantly. Three days later they were back at home and about to face another top schoolboy side, Brighton College. That is a serious challenge for any team, but particularly in Epsom’s situation as suddenly the prospect of a glorious unbeaten season starts to look ever more real, the pressure builds, the strains of back to back games become ever more challenging, it is not easy. In nasty conditions they used their powerful carriers to dominate the game against Brighton College, scoring tries and defending utterly brilliantly for a 30-0 victory, preserving an unbeaten record that now reads 8/8 and cementing the idea that they are definitely one of the best handful of sides in the country.
After a first half of term that had mixed results, the big high point being a first win at Eton College in a decade, John Fisher had a tough couple of days at the St Joseph’s Festival in the final weekend of that opening period of the season. Since half term though they have been flying, a brilliant victory over Wallington County Grammar followed by a dogged Cup win over Wimbledon College on Wednesday. On Saturday though they recorded, in our opinion, their best result of the season, an 18-12 victory at Dulwich College. Dulwich have beaten the likes of Harrow and Brighton College and reached the quarter finals of the Champions Trophy. Both had had tough midweek challenges, but John Fisher stepped up fantastically on Saturday to earn a place in this week’s Top 5.
St Peter’s, York
Welcoming RGS Newcastle on Saturday, St Peter’s York would have been hurting deeply after losing out in the Schools Cup regional semi finals to Woodhouse Grove by just a single point. It was just their second defeat of the season, discounting the St Joseph’s Festival, and the other side to have beaten them were Sedbergh, the only side to have beaten RGS Newcastle, who had beaten Barnard Castle in midweek by just a couple of points to progress in the same section of the Cup as St Peter’s. So a close game was expected, but surely not the thriller we got, 39-36 in St Peter’s favour and a game that ebbed and flowed with huge intensity. In the end it seemed as though whichever side won would end up in this week’s Top 5. The closing stages were heart in mouth moments for all sides, St Peter’s led by ten points only for RGS to score and then mount an assault on the St Peter’s line. It is that period though that really secures St Peter’s place in this week’s Top 5 for with RGS piling on the pressure in the last play of the game, the home side’s defence stood tall and patient until they saw the chance to pounce at the breakdown, earning the penalty, the victory, and a place in this week’s Top 5.
Throughout schools rugby history Tonbridge are always a name expected to be at or near the top of the schools rugby tree, but the last couple of year’s have just been a little quiet by their standards. Not so this year, they are having a fantastic season and yet it has almost blown under the radar somewhat. They have only twice been on the wrong side of a result, to Cranleigh, who are in the conversation about the very best in the business this year, and to Hampton in the Champions Trophy, who have since gone on to reach the semi finals. Tonbridge have been consisted all year, and since half term have continued that against strong sides, beating Harrow last week and then on Saturday beating St Paul’s 23-13, a St Paul’s side, remember, that have caused Epsom College more problems than anyone else this season. Tonbridge now have real momentum, and after being quietly impressive for a while, earn a bit of noise through out Top 5 this week.
Elsewhere there were plenty of other spectacular performances, some of the very best in the business were in brilliant form albeit in games they were expected to win. Cranleigh remain unbeaten after yet another clinical performance, this time at home to RGS Guildford, while Sedbergh also remain unbeaten, beating Lancaster RGS by a stunning 67-17 margin. Kirkham Grammar School too, they were 59-7 victors over Queen Ethelburga’s. Haileybury also continued their stunning unbeaten season with a 17-7 victory at Reed’s.
Barnard Castle bounced back from a tight defeat in the Cup to RGS Newcastle, their first loss of the season, with a sublime 43-5 victory over QEGS Wakefield, while Oakham also bounced right back into form, 40-17 over Oundle.
There were impressive margins of victory for Ellesmere College, Wellington School, and Campion, while Denstone College again showed their undoubted quality for a 60-0 victory over Trent College.
There were some surprise results with impressive performances too, in Scotland Stewart’s Melville caught out pace-setters George Watson’s College with an outstanding 44-19 victory, while at Worksop College Wisbech Grammar put in their best performance of the season by far for a 29-0 victory.