Live Stream: Epsom College v Hampton – From 5.45pm

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After a very long year, school rugby in England returns live to our screens on Friday night as we host Epsom College vs Hampton School across our YouTube, Facebook, and Website, kicking off at 6pm.

Live Stream: Epsom College v Hampton – Friday, 6pm KO

Team News

Epsom College

15 Henry Dalton, 14 Josh King, 13 Josh Lyon, 12 Bryn Bradley (vc), 11 Will Butt, 10 Tom Lynagh (c), 9 Max Franks, 1 Ollie Matthews (vc), 2 Jamie Yorke, 3 Zac O’Connor, 4 Ross Thurtell, 5 Nikolai Marinov, 6 Olaiya Adenui, 7 Henry Lyes, 8 Kade Bird.

Replacements: 16 George Morley, 17 William Swan*, 18 Rhys Day*, 19 Leo Hales, 20 Louis Russell, 21 Luke Marsh, 22 Charley Redknapp*. *Denotes debut.

Hampton

15 Connor Cross, 14 Joe Sykes, 13 Alex McMillan, 12 Tim Lamming, 11 Ethan Knight, 10 Jamie Benston (c), 9 Luke Greenall (vc), 1 Iestyn Humphrey, 2 Rupert Reddish, 3 Matt Le Moign, 4 Jack Slaney, 5 Lucas Mangham, 6 Joe Watton, 7 Toby Robinson, 8 Alex Taylor (vc).

Replacements: 18 Thomas Simm, 19 Arthur Hopley, 20 Joel Luckman, 21 Neo Sukraj-Hammerl.

Preview:

In fact, it has been more than just a very long year. The last fully live streamed school rugby match was 433 days ago, the U18 Schools Cup semi final between Northampton School for Boys and Warwick on the 8thMarch 2020.

It is that time that makes this game, and all the others that have been played since the 27th April and over the next couple of weeks, so special. These games are not about outcome, not about bragging rights or old scores, they’re not even about development or growth. All they are about is enjoyment and giving young guys a chance to play the game they love alongside their mates finally, after going over a year without.

The 2020/21 season has been wiped out, reduced to a four week window in which only a handful of schools are playing. A generation of school rugby players have lost a year, but for the Upper 6th it is worse than that, they have lost their final year of school rugby, their turn to be the custodians of the shirt, to enjoy playing alongside their mates in what will be, for many, the best and most expansive rugby they ever play. Some go on to higher things, but for the majority this is it.

For those taking the field on Friday, and over the next couple of weeks, they get that chance, and it is a huge chance. Often among the development buzzwords that surround school rugby that which is at the core of school rugby for the players, and always has been, gets lost – the emotion. Rugby is an emotional game anyway, but at school level more so than most. When you are in that environment it means everything. When you haven’t played in over a year and you have just a handful of matches with which to sign off your school rugby career, or in many cases even make your debut, one can only imagine the emotional heights being reached.

We can expect that on Friday evening come kick off at 6pm. Both Epsom College and Hampton will try and play rugby, be in no doubt about that, in Jamie Benson of Hampton and Tom Lynagh of Epsom College each side is captained by one of the top U18 fly halves in the country, if not the world. Both featured in our Top 100 U18 Players in the country, Benson coming out as number 1 and surely soon to be confirmed in the Harlequins Senior Academy, while Lynagh, also with Harlequins U18, has signed a long term deal with the Queensland Reds. These sides will use that quality and play.

Just 12 miles separate these two schools and that is reflected in some of the sibling relationships across the two schools, alongside Lynagh for Epsom College will be Bryn Bradley in the centres. Both of their older brothers were key players for Hampton just a couple of years ago, Gwilym Bradley, now with Cardiff Blues, and Louis Lynagh, now with Harlequins – and a part of our hypothetical British and Irish Lions Cubs squad.

It is perhaps surprising, given the close links between the two, how infrequently these two have met. Their last 1st XV meeting at fifteen-a-side came way back in October 2016, when the current group of senior players would have been U14s, right at the start of their senior school careers. Epsom College ran out winners that day, 19-10, but two weeks later Hampton would go on to win the Plate at the St Joseph’s Festival.

That summer Hampton would go on to win the Edwin Doran Surrey Schools Senior 7s, one of the most prestigious competitions on offer, a tournament won in 2020 by Epsom College, the last piece of silverware to be handed out before the realities of Covid hit, their second title there in a row to add to a Champions Trophy semi final in October that season.

All of that is ancient history though, these two arrive on Friday evening afresh, out to enjoy their rugby, share these final few games with their mates as a reward of their efforts over the last few years, as many as seven years in a number of cases on the Hampton side, 13 players in their squad joined as U11s.

Alongside Benson and Lynagh as skippers, both sides are likely to field two vice captains, Bradley in the centres and Ollie Matthews at loosehead for Epsom College, Luke Greenall at scrum half and number 8 Alex Taylor for Hampton – look out for his likely head to head with Epsom College number 8 Kade Bird.

While the players may not have gone head to head in school games too often, both feature so many Harlequins or London Irish U18s that they are hugely familiar to one another as individuals, both on and off the field. 

They will be familiar with each others’ recent games too, no doubt, both have faced Whitgift in the last couple of weeks, albeit a Whitgift of varying degrees of age and strength, Epsom College just missing out 6-3 in tough conditions for their first game in over a year, Hampton winning 25-6 to backing up a strong performance the week before against St Benedict’s.

As at the top, though, the scores are just the scores here. This game and all those before are all about returning for a massive game of school rugby after so long without, about celebrating the simple joy of being back playing again embracing the emotion that comes with pulling on that school 1st XV shirt and wanting to deliver for yourself and your team, for your mates.

We are in for a treat tomorrow at 6pm, be sure to tune in as it is simply not to be missed.

Epsom College v Hampton – Friday 14th May, 6pm KO – Live from 5.45pm on YouTube, Facebook, and www.nextgenxv.com

Team News

Epsom College

15 Henry Dalton, 14 Josh King, 13 Josh Lyon, 12 Bryn Bradley (vc), 11 Will Butt, 10 Tom Lynagh (c), 9 Max Franks, 1 Ollie Matthews (vc), 2 Jamie Yorke, 3 Zac O’Connor, 4 Ross Thurtell, 5 Nikolai Marinov, 6 Olaiya Adenui, 7 Henry Lyes, 8 Kade Bird.

Replacements: 16 George Morley, 17 William Swan*, 18 Rhys Day*, 19 Leo Hales, 20 Louis Russell, 21 Luke Marsh, 22 Charley Redknapp*. *Denotes debut.

Hampton

15 Connor Cross, 14 Joe Sykes, 13 Alex McMillan, 12 Tim Lamming, 11 Ethan Knight, 10 Jamie Benston (c), 9 Luke Greenall (vc), 1 Iestyn Humphrey, 2 Rupert Reddish, 3 Matt Le Moign, 4 Jack Slaney, 5 Lucas Mangham, 6 Joe Watton, 7 Toby Robinson, 8 Alex Taylor (vc).

Replacements: 18 Thomas Simm, 19 Arthur Hopley, 20 Joel Luckman, 21 Neo Sukraj-Hammerl.

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