2020 U18 & U15 Schools Vase Semi Final Previews

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Coach Logic

Last year the Schools Vase proved to have one of the most compelling storylines across all of the Schools Cup competitions as Samuel Whitbread Academy became the first side ever to do the U18 and U15 double.

 

This year no such opportunity exists, Newcastle School for Boys’ defeat of King’s Grantham in the U18 quarter finals ended that particular quest, however there is still a huge amount to look forward to ahead of this week’s semi finals, which see games taking place on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday.

 

The Vase has had its controversies this year, though through no fault of any players, but it has also seen some wonderful rugby across both U18 and U15 age groups and there should be plenty more of that to look forward to over the course of the week.

 

This year, unlike in previous year’s, the semi finals are being hosted at the ‘home’ school for each game rather than at Allianz Park as a result of RFU budget cuts and are therefore also not being live streamed. However the Vase finals will still be at Twickenham Stadium, taking place on Thursday 19th March.

 

U18 Schools Vase Semi Finals:

 

Langley v Newcastle School for Boys – Wednesday, 2.30pm

Sutton Valence v Wellington School – Sunday, 1pm

 

Results so far:

 

Langley (Midlands B)

QF: Lost 27-19 at Leicester Grammar

Rd5: 22-16 at Hitchin

Rd4: 24-21 at Hills Road 6th form College

Rd3: 30-7 v Ipswich

Rd2: 34-10 v Culford

Rd1: 60-10 at Wymondham College

 

Newcastle School for Boys (North A)

QF: 26-12 v King’s Grantham

Rd5: 38-15 v Ripon Grammar

Rd4: 40-12 at Austin Friars

Rd3: KES Morpeth – walkover

Rd2: 50-0 v Emmanuel College

Rd1: 50-0 v Tyne Metropolitan College

 

Sutton Valence (London & South East B)

QF: 36-18 at Eastbourne College

Rd5: 44-12 at Dartford Grammar

Rd4: 44-3 v Duke of York’s Royal Military School

Rd3: 41-8 at Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar

Rd2: 34-25 at Skinners’

Rd1: 28-17 at Maidstone GS

 

Wellington (South West A)

QF: 23-15 v Exeter

Rd5: 24-10 v St Peter’s, Gloucester

Rd4: 52-10 v Malmesbury

Rd3: 47-5 v Thomas Hardye

Rd2: 8-6 at Mount Kelly

Rd1: 42-12 at Torquay Boys Grammar

 

Previews:

 

Langley v Newcastle School for Boys – Wednesday, 2.30pm

 

A tricky game to preview as the circumstances under which Langley reached this semi final have been a huge story – however those circumstances are not the fault of those kids that are playing. To address the elephant in the room, Langley lost to Leicester Grammar in the quarter final but reported their opponents for a half game rule breach of 3 minutes and thus Leicester Grammar were removed from the tournament – further information can be seen here. That is parked now though, and if anything the publicity ought to galvanize the Norfolk based squad, who have a strong track record in this competition, having won it back in 2018.

 

They will surely be more determined than ever, and results in this competition this year have shown that when their backs are against the wall, they respond. A 24-21 victory at Hills Road 6th form College being a prime example. This is their first home game in the competition since round 3 and a big home atmosphere seems certain, and their home form has been exceptional. While they have not had too many fifteen-a-side run outs of late, but have been in great 7s form and with good weather reported, that could come in handy.

 

Newcastle School for Boys have meanwhile been a school that have been climbing up the schools rugby ladder for a couple of years and this year have particularly impressed. From Round 1 to the Quarter Finals in this tournament their result have steadily got closer, as would make sense, yet still throughout it Newcastle School for Boys have been largely dominant. They began with a pair of 50-0 victories before a walkover in Round 3. A 40-12 victory followed before a 38-15 defeat of Ripon Grammar in the North A regional final. Across all competitions, they were one of the most dominant side in at the regional stage this year. King’s Grantham gave the North Eastern men a good challenge in the quarter finals, but still NSB came away comfortably, 26-12. This is a seriously formidable outfit and a rising player in the schools rugby world. Wednesday is a huge day for them though, perhaps the biggest in their schools rugby history as they chase a first ever Twickenham final in a national schools competition and face a determined Langley side that know exactly how to get the job done in this competition.

 

Sutton Valence v Wellington School – Sunday, 1pm

 

When Sutton Valence and Wellington School take to the field on Sunday lunchtime they will know exactly who awaits the winner in the final of this U18 Schools Vase at Twickenham Stadium on Thursday 19th March. In truth though, that fact will not make a blind bit of difference to either of these teams as they will be utterly focused on making sure that they are the ones that are gracing that oh so protected Twickenham turf. This is the furthest that either side has ever gone in the National Schools Cup competitions, the closest before being an U15 Vase quarter final for Wellington School, so for both this is an absolutely monumental game with a spectacular prize awaiting the winners.

 

Sutton Valence have been edging ever closer to a game such as this in recent years, and this year they finally get their reward. It has been an impressive campaign too, their London & South East B section was a tricky one and yet they came through it well, finishing with a flourish as they put over forty past Chislehurst & Sidcup, Duke of York’s, and Dartford Grammar to reach the quarter finals where they really impressed with a 36-18 victory over Eastbourne College. Arguably their two toughest encounters though came right at the start of the campaign, not least a thrilling 34-25 victory at Skinners’, an incredibly tough place to get a result.

 

Likewise for Wellington School, for whom by far an away their toughest game in this Vase competition came back in Round 2 with a trip to Mount Kelly where they came away with an 8-6 victory. There have been some spectacular results around that, scoring fifty against Malmesbury and47 against Thomas Hardye, but it is that result that probably stands them in the best stead ahead of this semi final, as it demonstrates their ability to stick it out when the going gets tough, and a big away trip for a semi final is always a tough challenge. That was far from their only big performance though, beating Exeter 23-15 in their quarter final was quietly incredibly impressive, Exeter may not always get huge headlines but they always seem to go far in these competitions. All in all, it sets up for a wonderful conclusion to the week’s semi final action in the Schools Vase and whoever wins we are due an epic contest down in Maidstone.

 

U15 Schools Vase Semi Finals:

 

St John’s Leatherhead v St Lawrence College – Tuesday, 2pm

Northampton School for Boys v King’s Grantham – Wednesday, 3.45pm

 

Results so far:

 

St John’s Leatherhead (London & South East A)

QF: 32-7 at Torquay Boys Grammar

Rd5: 28-20 v Glyn

Rd4: 14-12 at Merchant Taylors’

Rd3: 45-12 at Gordon’s

Rd2: 50-10 at Halliford

Rd1: 76-0 v Isleworth & Syon

 

St Lawrence College (London & South East B)

QF: 20-10 v The Crypt

Rd5: 22-19 v Brentwood

Rd4 12-5 v Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar

Rd3: 73-7 v Oakwood Park Grammar

Rd2: 41-12 v Maidstone Grammar

Rd1: 52-5 at Sir Roger Manwood’s

 

Northampton School for Boys (Midlands B)

QF: 28-3 at St Edward’s College

Rd5: 23-19 v Ipswich

Rd4: 61-0 v Buckingham

Rd3: 53-7 at Hitchingbrooke

Rd2: 52-0 v Ousedale

Rd1: 45-6 at Tring

 

King’s Grantham (North B)

QF: 24-5 v Pate’s Grammar

Rd5: 17-10 at St Anselm’s college

Rd4: 14-10 at Nottingham HS

Rd3: 56-5 v Spalding Grammar

Rd2: Carre’s Grammar – Walkover

Rd1: Priory Ruskin – Walkover

 

Previews:

 

St John’s Leatherhead v St Lawrence College – Tuesday, 2pm

 

The U15 Vase is always an exciting tournament and semi final week for the U15 groups starts at 2pm on Tuesday with the St John’s Leatherhead v St Lawrence College fixture – a game that could very well be underway by the time you read this as the two London & South East section winners go head to head.

 

Both schools have enjoyed really similar routes to this semi final, absolutely blasting their way though the opening three rounds, including each managing to score seventy points in a game, before hitting some seriously challenging fixtures in round 4. St John’s came through an almighty challenge at Merchant Taylors’ for a 14-12 victory, while St Lawrence College had a tight one at home to Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar, 12-5. Those sort of results hint at the possibility of a really close and tense semi final on Tuesday afternoon, and through the regional final and their quarter finals, these two teams showed their capabilities in those kinds of games. At home St John’s are a tough outfit, and U18 level they have been in Champions Trophy quarter finals and semi finals, they know how to prepare for a big game, but this is one of the biggest games in St Lawrence College’s history, they will be giving it absolutely everything and will not be giving St John’s a second’s rest.

 

Northampton School for Boys v King’s Grantham – Wednesday, 3.45pm

 

Wednesday late afternoon sees Northampton School for Boys and King’s Grantham go head to head to see who will be joining the winner of that Tuesday encounter between St John’s and St Lawrence at Twickenham Stadium on Thursday 19th March. Northampton School for Boys are seeking to follow in the footsteps of fellow Northampton Saints feeders, Samuel Whitbread Academy, who won the U15 Plate last year. Indeed they are trying to follow them in more way that one as Samuel Whitbread did the U18 and U15 double last year, and this year NSB could do an even bigger one as their U18 side are in the Cup semi final against Warwick on Sunday afternoon.

 

King’s Grantham were a whisker away from having a similar opportunity, their U18s reached the Vase quarter finals before losing to Newcastle School for Boys, but this U15 group continue to carry the baton. They barely broke a sweat in the opening three rounds, with two walkovers and a fifty point victory, but since then they have really had to show their mettle, with tight victories over Nottingham High School and St Anselm’s College before they beat Pate’s 24-5 in the quarter finals. They are a tough old side to beat and will ask plenty of questions of this Northampton School for Boys side who have been sensational though this Vase run. Only once has a side scored twice against them, in their tight 23-19 regional final victory over Ipswich School. That aside they have been utterly dominant in this competition each and every time that they have taken to the field and will surely start Wednesday afternoon’s game absolutely bursting with confidence as a result.

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