The Oakham 7s takes place on Sunday and at present looks as though it will be the only major U18 7s competition to take place this weekend after snow and heavy rainfall across the country has caused mass cancellations.
In total there will be twenty schools competing, split into four groups of five teams each, with the winners of each group heading to the Cup semi finals, second place to the Plate, third to the Bowl, and 4th to the shield. There is also an U16 tournament, which follows the same format but with King’s Macclesfield, Royal Hospital School, King’s Worcester, and Ipswich replacing four of the sides from the U18 competition.
In the U18s Bedford won last year as they have every year since 2013 save for 2015, when Wellington College entered and won, and 2018, when bad weather forced cancellation.
The reigning champions will have to be in sparkling form in order to win this year though, such is the strength of the competition around them. Even their group, Group B, looks savage. The reigning Plate champions, Denstone College, will be a massive threat and they warmed up with a practice event against Sedbergh, the reigning back to back Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s champions, on Wednesday.
Alongside those two are one of the top fifteen-a-side outfits of the season, Harrow, as well as a Leicester Grammar School side that will be determined to give a fantastic showing of themselves in their first big outing since their controversial and upsetting removal from the U18 Schools Vase semi finals. Loughborough Grammar School complete what appears a fiendishly tough group.
As hosts, Oakham are in Group B. However it is certainly not an easy looking group as alongside them are their nearest and oldest rivals, Uppingham, who last year won the Bowl and this year are enjoying their best season in a decade. Campion are also in the group and are well practiced after an outing at the Hampton 7s in midweek. Welbeck are also in Group A, which is completed by Warwick, who may have an eye on their U18 Schools Cup semi final next Sunday, but could well still be a massive player in this tournament.
Bromsgrove won the Colts tournament last year and that group will now be a part of the U18 group that will be lining up in Group C as one of the favourites for this tournament. The U18s in the group have happy 7s memories too, having dominated the midlands circuit last year and finished up by lifting the Vase at Rosslyn Park, indeed they would have competed well in the Cup.
Joining Bromsgrove are the ever exciting St Joseph’s College, who should have plenty about them this year, as well as Oundle and Eton College, two sides that can always compete well. St Edward’s Oxford complete the group and should once again be hugely inspired having had the England squad in school training this week once again.
Group D is the final group and it looks like another cracker, headlined by Champions Trophy finalists Rugby, one of the top fifteen-a-side groups in the country. They will be hoping to translate that across to the short format but will have stiff competition from the likes of Norwich and a Stamford side that were excellent last term but perhaps did not get the praise that they fully deserved. Nottingham High School will compete hard, as will Stowe, who U16s reached the Cup final last year and will be looking to build on that in the senior tournament this year.
Over in that Colts tournament, Bromsgrove’s title defence start from Group B where Campion and King’s Macclesfield join them along with two big local threats in Uppingham and Stamford.
Stowe, meanwhile, look to go one better than last year’s second place from Group A. Alongside them are Leicester Grammar, Rugby, St Joseph’s College, and last year’s Plate champions, St Edward’s Oxford.
Group C sees Oundle, Loughborough Grammar, Harrow, and Warwick all drawn against last year’s Plate runners up, Royal Hospital School. The hosts, Oakham, are meanwhile in Group D, where they will be up against Denstone College, Bedford, King’s Worcester, and Ipswich.
Oakham 7s Groups:
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Oakham||Bedford||St Joseph’s College||Rugby|
|Welbeck||Loughborough GS||Eton College||Nottingham HS|
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Leicester Grammar||Campion||Oundle||Denstone College|
|Rugby||King’s Macclesfield||Loughborough Grammar||Bedford|
|St Joseph’s College||Uppingham||Harrow||King’s School, Worcester|
|Stowe||Bromsgrove||Royal Hospital School||Ipswich|
|St Edward’s, Oxford||Stamford||Warwick||Oakham|