This weekend was probably not the weekend for you if free-flowing helter-skelter rugby was what you were after, such were the conditions, but that did not stop some outstanding performances from school sides all over the country.
It gave way to some cracking contests with some incredibly close scorelines and more than a few upsets. With the season heading ever nearer to the close, for many there are just two weekends left, these games are crucial for many as they look to seal a strong finish or either maintain or regain the momentum of their season.
Picking out just five teams after a weekend such as this was, as always, a challenge, but with such a competitive weekend came the chance to assess some sides that perhaps feature in these lists less often, as well as some that have featured before.
Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend
Ashville College hosted Bradford Grammar on Saturday and most would probably have had them as underdogs, such has been Bradford’s form. The visitors have reached their Schools Plate regional final and in a busy season had lost just two games. Ashville College showed to concern for such form though, putting in an excellent performance in testing conditions for what was ultimately a dominant victory, 21-0. Becoming the first side to leave Bradford Grammar scoreless and giving themselves a real chance of rounding off this season over the next couple of weeks in style.
Bristol Grammar School
Bristol Grammar School’s game against Blundell’s was a hotly anticipated one, two schools playing some fantastic rugby in the south west and in excellent form. Both had similar records heading into the game, only missing out to some highly elite sides. However on Saturday Bristol Grammar put in a seriously strong performance, winning a tough game 21-5 to leave them 8th in the Daily Mail Trophy table, unbeaten since half term, and with every chance of completing an unbeaten second half of term with two games remaining that they should go into as favourites.
RGS Newcastle have proven themselves to be exceptional this season, Schools Cup quarter finalists, only defeated by Sedbergh and St Peter’s York, and with a good showing at the St Joseph’s Festival. So Lancaster RGS knew they faced an almighty task on Saturday, and though they had faced top level opponents before, Barnard Castle, Kirkham Grammar, and Sedbergh, they had come out second best in all three. However they had clearly learned the lessons from those games and came out with a defensively brilliant performance in torrid conditions at RGS Newcastle on Saturday, taking a narrow half time lead an d then being utterly clinical to take two second half penalties for a superb 19-10 victory away from home and a deserved place in this week’s Top 5.
It is back to back appearances in the Top 5 for Millfield, last week a dominant performance against Cheltenham College earned their spot, this week it is arguably their most impressive result of the season that gets them in, a 23-18 victory away from home at Whitgift. To put the result in context, only Sedbergh and Wellington College, probably the best two teams in the country, have beaten Whitgift before this season, a side whose Schools Cup title defence is ticking along very nicely too. Millfield have had some outstanding moments this year and a few below par, but this will surely rank as one of their best of the year and sets them up well from a testing last couple of weeks with Monmouth and Sedbergh to come.
Warwick travelled to Rugby School on Saturday with both sides having had incredibly testing midweek fixtures, Rugby progressing to the Champions Trophy final in a ding dong battle with Hampton that saw the lead change hands twice in the dying moments, and Warwick reaching the Schools Cup final after holding off a determined Bromsgrove fightback to cling on for a one point victory. They had to dig deep again on Saturday, inflicting just a second defeat of the season on this powerful Rugby School side and their first on their home patch, the Close. Having now beaten Bromsgrove and Rugby back to back Warwick must be bubbling with confidence, both are incredibly good sides and have beaten some of the very best around. Having had a tricky first half of term, Warwick have now won five on the bounce and are going to be in peak form heading into that quarter final.
Elsewhere there were plenty of impressive performances, Tonbridge continue with their great work, enjoying a really dogged 17-14 victory over Dulwich College on Saturday. Skinners’ won by the same margin in a similar game at Trinity, while Isleworth & Syon’s great form continues with a 19-17 victory at Gunnersbury. Even closer than all of those, though, was a 7-6 victory for Mount St Mary’s College away at Woodhouse Grove, a highly impressive victory at a very strong side.
Despite conditions some sides still managed to rack up some impressive tallies, not least Bromsgrove at Stowe and Churcher’s College at Halliford. Magdalen College and Wirral Grammar were both in brilliant form at home, while one of the most impressive away results of the weekend was a 40-0 victory for Denstone College at QEGS Wakefield. Denstone were favourites, but few would have predicted by quite such a margin, it was a wonderfully commanding performance. Bishop Wordsworth’s also impressed in a closer game, coming though tough conditions and a tough as teak Marlborough College defence to win 16-7 away from home.