This weekend was a weekend to celebrate. The return of fully competitive school rugby, the return of throngs of spectators to the touchlines, it was in the same breath both bizarre and wonderful to see.
A school rugby touchline is unlike other rugby touchlines, there is not just passion and a desire for a good outcome, but also huge amounts of pride, of genuine support, and a will for enjoyment. There is nothing quite like it and seeing the touchlines filled once again was a sight to behold.
The rugby was pretty decent, too! Throughout the weekend the reports coming back were of some outstanding performances and incredibly competitive games by and large. After being held back for 18 months in so many cases, there was a sense almost of desperation to get going, to get the ball in hand, to make a tackle. Training is good, internal games even better, but while you can plan and plan and practice and practice, you don’t really know until you’re punched in the face, to paraphrase Mike Tyson. In other words, it all feels different once that competitive contact against a team from outside is introduced. This weekend everyone felt that, responded, and put on a show.
It’s a show that we would love to bring to as wide an audience as possible, so if you are interested in having one of your games live streamed please get in contact with us asap.
Friday 10th September
Friday was a busy day and evening, with perhaps the star draw being Clifton College v Sir Thomas Rich’s, where a really tight game was played out between two sides expected to be at the sharp end this year. Clifton won 12-7, but both proved their quality.
Elsewhere, Hartpury College’s non-ACE side were given a good game by Pate’s Grammar, ending 14-10 in Hartpury’s favour, while St Edward’s Oxford rounded off pre-season with a 16-0 win at Oxford Harlequins.
Perhaps the performance of the day though was from St Benedict’s, who put their busy pre-season to good use in front of a packed crowd for a 28-0 Friday night victory over London Oratory.
Saturday 11th September
Friday was merely the appetiser though; Saturday was the main course and it delivered in style as the busiest day of school rugby since 2019 took off. By mid-morning it felt like rugby had never been away, such was the intensity.
Our ‘Ten to Watch’ games certainly lived up to expectations, as did everyone that voted, with eight of the ten games going the way that our readers predicted.
Bedford backed up the thoughts of 79% of voters with a brilliant 42-19 defeat of Oundle, a result that really does suggest that this Bedford side is going to be one to keep an eye on this year.
In Yorkshire Ampleforth College put in a performance that will have plenty taking notice as they won at Bradford Grammar 35-19, a fine return to form for one of the historically top sides in English schoolboy rugby and defying the votes of 68% of our readers.
In Surrey, Cranleigh backed up the thoughts of 64% of readers as they won a tight game against Brighton College 17-12. It was not the classic that some of their encounters have been through the years, but there was a sense that these are two sides that are going to get better and better through the coming weeks.
In Essex there was a game that we were particularly looking forward to between Felsted and Haileybury. A tremendous battle ensued between the Herts-Essex rivals, as predicted by our readers who had Felsted as slim favourites with 54% of the vote. Both teams played in a ferocious manner but the Haileybury came out on top. They shot into a first half lead of 14-0 with the classy Joe Robinson scoring one from full back and the rangy Ben Spencer scoring the other with a fine break from fly half. Spencer converted both. Felsted fought back well and managed a fine score before half time to reduce the deficit to 14-7. At the start of the second half, Haileybury produced some great play which allowed prominent flanker Jasper Jeffrey to score following a bit of magic from scrum half Tim Hayes. Spencer added the extras and also slotted a penalty to stretch the lead to 24-7. Felsted hit back but it wasn’t enough for the Essex men to get back in to the game. This was an impressive performance from the visitors. Ikhi Osebor, Dan Cannon, Dan Hoyes and Sam Aylwin were prominent throughout with Ben Spencer pulling the strings at fly half as his side won 24-14.
Rugby School picked up where they left off in 2019…impressively. They were in action at Oakham, always a fine rugby institution and a side buoyed by the visit of Lions star and old boy Hamish Watson. Rugby were in top form though and delivered on the expectations of 74% of readers with a 26-14 victory.
One of the closest predictions of the weekend was Radley College v Marlborough College, where 51% of readers backed Radley. In the end, though, the game was not as close as Radley College laid down a real marker as to what to expect from them this year with a brilliant 37-0 victory over a Marlborough College side that has plenty of potential. Keep an eye on Radley.
RGS Newcastle were also off to a strong start, beating one of Yorkshire’s top sides, St Peter’s York, 24-14. Just 51% of you backed the RGS victory after a tough pre-season outing to George Watson’s, but with competitive rugby back, RGS were on strong form to start the season in a really positive manner.
Much like Bedford, Stowe put in a performance that will have people taking notice and wondering if they are starting to climb back up towards the higher reaches of the school rugby ladder on Saturday. 70% of readers backed them against Stamford and they delivered with an impressive 18-5 victory.
We have Tonbridge a reasonable amount of hype in our preview for their game against St John’s Leatherhead, and that hype was backed up by the readers with nearly 80% predicting victory for the Kent side. The black and white hoops absolutely delivered, securing a strong 24-0 victory that will keep them riding that huge wave of confidence and have many watching closely to see how they continue to go along.
One of the most anticipated games of the weekend was Wellington College v Northampton School for Boys, a rerun of the 2019 U15 Schools Cup final. Wellington College won 23-5 that day, and perhaps that helped in the choice of 73% of readers to back them on Saturday. The Berkshire side more than delivered as they stormed to a 55-12 victory over NSB, a quite stunning performance after so long away, and a performance that leaves everyone very excited about the sort of rugby that this famous rugby school might produce this year.
Outside of our ‘Ten to Watch’ there was early silverware up for grabs, too. Newcastle School for Boys claiming the annual Hadrian Cup with their27-17 victory at Austin Friars. Not far from there, there was a stunning performance from one of the most promising sides prior to covid, Barnard Castle. The prestigious rugby school got off to a flier with a 50-0 victory over Hymers College, who are no slouches at all.
The North West saw some stunning performances. Kirkham Grammar were almost predictably outstanding against a good Wirral Grammar side, winning 50-3 to get their season off to a perfect start and once again suggesting they will be right at the top end. Altrincham Grammar were also sensational, beating a Wilmslow High School side that so often are fighting right at the top end by a stunning 62-5 margin.
Elsewhere Lancaster RGS were in strong form away at King’s Macclesfield for a 31-10 victory, while Birkenhead saw off Newcastle-under-Lyme 29-14. St Anselm’s College also started the season off in victorious fashion, beating Cheadle Hulme 34-12.
Moving slightly further south, there was a good contest in the Nottingham derby, eventually going the way of Trent College who beat their local rivals Nottingham High School 17-5. Loughborough Grammar were also in good form, beating Ratcliffe College 19-0, while over in Birmingham Princethorpe College edged a thriller with KES Birmingham 29-22 away from home.
King’s Worcester were in top form. They put on a silky display against St Peter’s Gloucester to come away with a brilliant 44-14 victory. Monmouth meanwhile were in a tense game away at Old Swinford Hospital but came away with the spoils, 20-14
Bloxham got their season off to a strong start with a hard-fought win at Malvern College. The game was well contested throughout, with the lead changing hands several times and Malvern’s backs looking dangerous, and the home side led 19-17 early in the second half, but the visitors’ pack gradually asserted themselves in the loose after the interval, and a series of powerful forward drives and three more tries helped Bloxham to a 34-19 win.
There was also a third victory in 8 days for Wellingborough, who are really looking like a team to keep a close eye on as they saw off Leicester Grammar 38-10. Denstone College, meanwhile, were looking outstanding away at Solihull as they secured an impressive 38-6 victory. Over in Oxfordshire, Gordon’s non-ACE side showed their skills with a good 21-12 victory away at Magdalen College, a welcome boost ahead of their ACE debut on Wednesday.
Over on the more Eastern side of the country, Bishop’s Stortford College put in a real statement performance at home to St Edmund’s College, a startling 62-5 victory that will put the rest of the region on alert. So too will Mill Hill’s stunning 57-0 victory over local rivals QES Barnet. Meanwhile Bishop Stortford College’s closest rivals, Bishop’s Stortford High, were also off to a winning start, a 23-15 victory over The Leys, an impressive return given The Leys’ direction of travel pre-covid.
Perhaps the game of the day in the East, possibly even the country, was an absolute thriller at RGS Colchester which was just clinched by St Joseph’s College 36-31. The tries rained in and the tension was high throughout, but St Joseph’s just came away on to. In St Joseph’s home county of Suffolk, New Hall were in flying form as they saw off Culford, while in Norfolk, Royal Hospital travelled up from Suffolk to Norwich and came away with the spoils 17-7. However the Norfolk/Suffolk rivalry was evened out by Gresham’s very impressive 32-0 defeat of Framlingham College.
Across London and the Kent/Sussex/Surrey areas some of the biggest names in school rugby were in action. Not least Harrow, who arrive into this season with plenty expected of them and they more than delivered as they travelled to Hurstpierpoint College, a side with plenty of expectation on them too, and came home with a stunning 53-7 victory.
It was one of the performances of the day, joined by a sensational performance from KCS Wimbledon, who are really looking back in the big time as they beat Reed’s by an astonishing 63-7 margin, one of the top performances of the opening weekend. They were far from alone though, St Ignatius College bounced back from a tough week last week to seal a 48-7 victory over Fulham Boys, while King’s Canterbury put the promise from last week’s triangular to good use as they saw off Duke of York’s Royal Military 39-0 away from home.
Langley Park were in good early season form with a 31-0 victory over Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar, while St Olave’s Grammar went down to Cranbrook and impressively won 18-7. There was a thriller in Maidstone, with Gravsend Grammar just edging out home side Maidstone Grammar 15-14. Things were tight over at Glyn too, as they went down to a strong City of London Freemen’s performance 22-17.
One of Glyn’s closest schools is Epsom College, and Epsom were on their travels in this opening weekend to RGS Guildford, where they started in fine form to seal a 22-8 opening weekend victory away from home. That was a strong performance, but perhaps the game of the day in Surrey was a 27-25 victory away from home for Pangbourne College at St George’s College, Weybridge.
St Paul’s were utterly outstanding on Saturday, putting Campion, a famously hard team to beat, to the sword with a 43-0 opening day victory. Reigate Grammar were similarly impressive, winning 34-0 over St Dunstan’s College, while Wallington County Grammar were in great form, winning 40-12 at Tiffin.
Halliford, who seem to be really building, won 22-10 at Claremont, while there were impressive victories for Judd, 25-5 at Eltham College and Caterham, 22-13 at Sevenoaks, a performance to take note of. Gunnerbury meanwhile won in a pre-season friendly 33-5 at Cardinal Vaughan.
Things were much tighter at Ravens Wood, but the home side just prevailed 15-14 against Skinners’. Meanwhile on the South Coast Lord Wandsworth College were utterly outstanding, beating Portsmouth Grammar 52-12.
Lord Wandsworth hosted their annual South Coast Kings pre-season tournament last week, and Shiplake College were one of the many attendees. That blow out certainly seemed to benefit them as they sealed an impressive 20-9 win away from home in Reading at The Oratory. Along the road in Windsor, Eton College won one of the great school fixtures on the calendar, seeing off leading state school John Fisher, 19-5.
The South West was, as ever, full of some tremendous school rugby. Not least a Triangular at Exeter School, which was won by West Buckland after a 19-7 victory over the hosts and a 10-8 victory over Mount Kelly, who also beat Exeter 5-0.
Colston’s are a side that have looked very interesting through pre-season and they started well on Saturday with a 14-5 victory at home against RGS Worcester. Dean Close are another, as so often, to keep close tabs on. They travelled to Taunton to take on King’s College and came away with a 28-12 victory. It was a more successful day for King’s College Taunton’s local rivals, Taunton School. They made the trip to Kingswood and went home with a strong 36-7 victory.
Bristol Grammar are another side in the area to look out for and they demonstrated that on Saturday with an outstanding 37-5 victory over KES Bath. Meanwhile there was a 5-0 win for Prior Park College over Monkton Combe, while Hereford Cathedral School won impressive 31-15 at Wycliffe College. One of the closest and most exciting games in the South West though was at Bishop Wordsworth’s, where they held off a determined Reading Blue Coat side to hold on for a 22-19 victory.
In Scotland there were come unbelievably dominant performances, most notably from George Watson’s College who were utterly sensational. They saw off Dundee High 82-0 and will have the rest of the country on alert. Their 2nd XV fared less well though as Kelvinside Academy showed their credentials for a brilliant 50-7 victory. Strathallan were similarly on form as they saw off Balfron High 50-0 away from home, much like Stewart’s Melville, who won 51-0 at Glasgow Academy.
Hutchesons’ Grammar were also in free scoring form, winning a bit of a try-fest at home to Jordanhill, 59-26. Robert Gordon’s also showed their try-scoring prowess. They were up against club side Deeside RFC and sealed a brilliant 68-0 victory.
The game with the biggest billing in Scotland proved to be one of the more competitive, too. Merchiston Castle showed that they are once again a top side as they travelled to Dollar Academy and secured a 33-19 victory. George Heriot’s were also on form, winning 35-14 at Glasgow High, while Morrison’s Academy were 29-12 victors at Lomond School and St Aloysius’ won 34-12 at home to Glenalmond.
Overall it was a sensational weekend of school rugby with which to open the competitive season for most. The early suggestions are that we are going to be in for a brilliant season of school rugby, made all the more so enjoyable after such a long absence. In that spirit of capturing things after so long away, do please make sure to get in touch if you would like to have one of your games live streamed.
If you have any photos, video, reports, or any other content from the weekend’s school rugby then please do send it in via our social media channels or email@example.com and if you are interested in us live streaming one of your games or an event then please do get in touch!
School Rugby Results – Friday 10th September to Sunday 12th September
Friday 10th September
Clifton College 12-7 Sir Thomas Rich’s
Hartpury College 14-10 Pate’s Grammar
Oxford Harlequins 0-16 St Edward’s, Oxford (Pre-Season)
St Benedict’s 28-0 London Oratory
Saturday 11th September
Austin Friars 17-27 Newcastle School for Boys (Hadrian Cup)
Balfron High 0-50 Strathallan
Barnard Castle 50-0 Hymers College
Bedford 42-19 Oundle
Birkenhead 29-14 Newcastle-Under-Lyme
Bishop Wordsworth’s 22-19 Reading Blue Coat
Bishop’s Stortford College 62-5 St Edmund’s College, Ware
Bradford Grammar 19-35 Ampleforth College
Bristol Grammar 37-5 KES Bath
Cardinal Vaughan 5-33 Gunnersbury (Friendly)
Claremont 10-22 Halliford
Colston’s 14-5 RGS Worcester
Cranbrook 7-18 St Olave’s Grammar
Cranleigh 17-12 Brighton College
Dollar Academy 19-33 Merchiston Castle
Duke of York’s Royal Military School 0-39 King’s Canterbury
Eltham College 5-25 Judd
Eton College 19-5 John Fisher
Exeter Triangular: Exeter 7-19 West Buckland, Exeter 0-5 Mount Kelly, Mount Kelly 8-10 West Buckland
Felsted 14-24 Haileybury
Fulham Boys 7-48 St Ignatius College
George Watson’s College 82-0 Dundee High School
Glasgow Academy 0-51 Stewart’s Melville
Glasgow High School 14-35 George Heriot’s
Glyn 17-22 City of London Freemen’s
Gresham’s 32-0 Framlingham College
Hurstpierpoint College 7-53 Harrow
Hutchesons’ Grammar 59-26 Jordanhill
KCS Wimbledon 63-7 Reed’s
Kelvinside Academy 50-7 George Watson’s College 2nd XV
KES Birmingham 22-29 Princethorpe College
King’s College, Taunton 12-28 Dean Close
King’s Macclesfield 10-31 Lancaster RGS
King’s Worcester 44-14 St Peter’s, Gloucester
Kingswood 7-36 Taunton
Kirkham Grammar 50-3 Wirral Grammar
Langley Park 31-0 Chislehurst & Sidcup
Loughborough Grammar 19-0 Ratcliffe College
Magdalen College 12-21 Gordon’s
Maidstone Grammar 14-15 Gravesend Grammar
Malvern College 19-34 Bloxham
Mill Hill 57-0 QES Barnet
Morrison’s Academy 29-12 Lomond School
New Hall 33-7 Culford
Norwich 7-17 Royal Hospital School
Oakham 14-26 Rugby
Old Swinford Hospital 14-20 Monmouth
Portsmouth Grammar 12-52 Lord Wandsworth College
Prior Park College 5-0 Monkton Combe (Friendly)
Radley College 37-0 Marlborough College
Ravens Wood 15-14 Skinners’
Reigate Grammar 34-0 St Dunstan’s College
RGS Colchester 31-36 St Joseph’s College
RGS Guildford 8-22 Epsom College
RGS Newcastle 24-14 St Peter’s, York
Robert Gordon’s College 68-0 Deeside RFC
Sevenoaks 13-22 Caterham
Solihull 6-38 Denstone College
St Aloysius’ College 34-12 Glenalmond College
St Anselm’s College 34-12 Cheadle Hulme
St George’s Weybridge 25-27 Pangbourne College
St Paul’s 43-0 Campion
Stowe 18-5 Stamford
The Leys 15-23 Bishop’s Stortford High
The Oratory 9-20 Shiplake College
Tiffin 12-40 Wallington County Grammar
Tonbridge 24-0 St John’s, Leatherhead
Trent College 17-5 Nottingham High
Wellingborough 38-10 Leicester Grammar
Wellington College 52-12 Northampton School for Boys
Wilmslow High 5-62 Altrincham Grammar
Wycliffe College 15-31 Hereford Cathedral School
Remaining Results to Come:
Friday 10th September
Calday Grange Grammar v Merchant Taylors’, Crosby
Shelford RFC v Wisbech Grammar
Wells RFC v Wells Cathedral
Saturday 11th September
Abingdon Festival: Abingdon, Hampton, RGS High Wycombe (Pre-Season)
Ashville College v Hill House
Canford Triangular: Canford, Sherborne, Wimborne RFC
Coopers’ Coborn v Dartford Grammar
Dauntsey’s v King’s Bruton
Haberdashers’ v St Columba’s College (Pre-Season)
Lymm High v Sandbach
Manchester Grammar v Stockport Grammar
QEGS Wakefield v Woodhouse Grove (Pre-Season)
QEH v Wellington School (Pre-Season)
St Albans v Bedford Modern
Warwick Triangular: Warwick, Bromsgrove, Cheltenham College
Yarm v Durham (Pre-Season)
Sunday 12th September
Eastbourne College v Havant and Waterlooville RFC (Pre-Season)