Schools Rugby: Midweek Preview – The Schools Cup returns after 18 month wait

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Coach Logic

After a big weekend of rugby there is no time to rest as it’s into a huge midweek of schools rugby, which includes the opening round of the U18 Schools Cup.

The U18 Schools Vase already began last week, and the two competitions are set to run on alternate weeks, though there are a few second round games in the Vase already taking place.

The Schools Cup is the focus this week though, and with the Champions Trophy now disbanded due to a lack of entrants, the U18 Schools Cup once again becomes the RFU’s flagship school tournament – though it should be noted that entrants do remain a little thin for it. As ever, first round losers in the Cup go to the Plate competition, whose draw mirrors the Cup, similarly in the Vase first round losers go to the Bowl.

It should be a special tournament this year, 2021’s entire competition was cancelled, while in 2020 things had to be cut short just prior to what would have been an epic final between reigning champions Whitgift and 2017 and 2018 champions, Warwick. Both will surely make big charges again this year as the tournament returns, and you can see the full draw for the Cup here: Schools Cup & Vase Draws.

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U18 Schools Cup 1st Round Fixtures

North A

Lancaster RGS v Stonyhurst College – Saturday

Kirkham Grammar v Rishworth – Wednesday

Rydal Penrhos v Liverpool College – Wednesday (winner plays Manchester GS)

Stockport Grammar v Altrincham Grammar – Wednesday

King’s Macclesfield v St Mary’s College – Wednesday

Merchant Taylors’ v Cheadle Hulme – Wednesday (winner bye to Round 3)

North A is one of the fullest fixture lists of the week, with five games taking place, before the opening round is closed out on Saturday with Lancaster RGS v Stonyhurst College. The winner there will be hosting either Kirkham Grammar School or Rishworth, keep an eye on Kirkham who would be among the tournament favourites at their best, but it remains to be seen what impact the imports rule will have on them (maximum 3 6th form imports per matchday squad).

Manchester Grammar are already in the second round thanks to a bye and will travel to the winner of Wednesday’s game between Rydal Penrhos and Liverpool College, Rydal Penrhos being one of a few Welsh sides in the draw. Also on Wednesday, Stockport Grammar host Altrincham Grammar and King’s Macclesfield welcome St Mary’s College, with the winners of each meeting each other next round. Meanwhile Cheadle Hulme travel to Merchant Taylors’ where the winner will go straight to the regional semi final thanks to byes.

North B

Hartlepool 6th form College v RGS Newcastle – Wednesday

Barnard Castle v Hymers College – Wednesday

St Peter’s York v Thomas Rotherham – TBC (winner bye to Round 3)

Bradford Grammar v Woodhouse Grove – Postponed

QEGS Wakefield v Grammar School at Leeds – Wednesday

The games are a little thinner in North B, with St Peter’s York v Thomas Rotherham yet to have a date, though the winner there will have a bye right to the regional semi, so there is plenty of time for that one. Meanwhile Bradford Grammar v Woodhouse Grove has been postponed, and they will hope to be able to reschedule as the winner will play the winner of Wednesday’s game between QEGS Wakefield, the Cup legends, and Grammar School at Leeds for a chance to go all the way to the regional final thanks to bye.

Two Cup legends that will have fuller schedules if they want to go there are RGS Newcastle and Barnard Castle. On Wednesday RGS travel to Hartlepool 6th form College while Barnard Castle host Hymers College, with the winners meeting in Round 2.

Midlands A

Ellesmere College v Warwick – Postponed

Solihull v KES Aston – TBC

Rugby v Stowe – Saturday 9th (winner bye to Round 3)

Bedford Modern v Oakham – Thursday

Northampton School for Boys v Uppingham (postponed)

There is only one confirmed fixture in midweek in Midlands A, that’s the trip of former champions Oakham to Bedford Modern on Thursday. The winner will face either 2020 semi-finalists Northampton School for Boys or Oakham’s old rivals Uppingham, but their game has been postponed. Whoever wins when those two winners meet will have a bye right to the regional final.

Elsewhere Ellesmere College’s game v 2020 finalists, and 2017 and 2018 champions, Warwick has been postponed, if that can be rearranged the winner will face either Solihull or KES Aston in Round 2, though the date is yet to be confirmed for their game. Meanwhile on Saturday Rugby and Stowe meet in a clash of two of the form teams this year, a game that will certainly feature in our Ten to Watch this weekend and will see the winner straight into Round 3.

Midlands B

Bedford v Gresham’s – Wednesday

Samuel Whitbread Academy v Norwich – Tuesday

Finborough v Royal Hospital School – Tuesday (winner bye to Round 3)

Felsted v New Hall – Tuesday

Haileybury v Campion – Wednesday

Midlands B gets started good and early, with three games on Tuesday. At the top of the draw Bedford host Gresham’s on Wednesday, while former Vase champions Samuel Whitbread host Norwich on Wednesday, meaning that Bedford and Gresham’s will know their potential opponents when they meet. No such thoughts for Finborough and Royal Hospital School on Tuesday though, the winner of that heads straight to Round 3.

Tuesday also sees Felsted host New Hall, and a win for Felsted could set up the tantalising prospect of a second game against Haileybury this season, the Hertfordshire side host Campion on Wednesday. Whoever wins the game between the two winners will head straight to the regional final.

London & South East A

Watford Grammar v Davenant Foundation – Thursday (winner v Harrow)

St Benedict’s v Latymer Upper – TBC (winner bye to Round 3)

Hampton v KCS Wimbledon – Wednesday (winner v St Paul’s)

Dulwich College v Langley Park – Wednesday (winner bye to Round 3)

St Paul’s have already kicked things off in London & South East A with a 50-0 win over Emanuel last week to head into Round 2. They await in Round 2 the winner of one of the ties of the round on Wednesday, Hampton v KCS Wimbledon, Hampton are a top end side but KCS have started the season likes a train. Also in action on Wednesday are the 2012, 2013, and 2014 champions, Dulwich College, who will host Langley Park, with the winner heading straight to Round 3.

Thursday sees Watford Grammar host Davenant Foundation for the right to host Harrow, surely one of the favourites this year, in Round 2. Meanwhile St Benedict’s and Latymer Upper are yet to announce a date for their game, but have plenty of time to do so – the winner has a bye right to round 3.

London & South East B

Trinity v Wimbledon College – Wednesday

John Fisher v Newman College – TBC

Epsom College v Christ’s Hospital – Postponed (winner bye to Round 3)

ACE Cobham v St John’s, Leatherhead – TBC

Caterham v The Judd – Wednesday

Whitgift bye to Round 3

2019 champions Whitgift, and 2020 finalists before things were called off, have a bye right to the regional semi finals, which means everyone in their half of the draw is playing for the chance to eventually host them. ACS Cobham and St John’s Leatherhead are yet to confirm a date for their game on that side, but on Wednesday Caterham will host The Judd with the winner travelling to the winner of that game once confirmed.

At the top end of the draw are Whitgift’s two Croydon rivals, Trinity and John Fisher. Trinity open their account on Wednesday at home to Wimbledon College, about as tantalising a first round tie as there is, meanwhile John Fisher host Newman College, though a date is yet to be confirmed. Epsom College v Christ’s Hospital has been postponed, but there is time to find a new date as the winner has a bye through to Round 3.

South West A

Ivybridge Community College v Bodmin College – TBC

Blundell’s v Queen’s College, Taunton – Wednesday

Colston’s v Sherborne – Tuesday

King’s College Taunton v Taunton School – Wednesday

Canford v Bishop Wordsworth’s – Thursday 7th

Sir Thomas Rich’s v Marlborough College – Wednesday

South West A is one of the fullest draws of the lot, and it starts on Tuesday with a massive clash between 2020 semi finalists Sherborne and the Schools Cup’s most successful school, by far, Colston’s. Sherborne look strong, but so too do Colston’s, who have one of their strongest groups in many a year. It would be a special game. The winner will face either King’s College Taunton or Taunton School, who meet in another monster first round tie on Wednesday – a proper local derby. Fellow Taunton side Queen’s College travel for a tricky game at Blundell’s on Wednesday, Blundell’s have been a strong Champions Trophy competitor in recent times but move to the Cup now that it has been disbanded. The winner there will travel to either Ivybridge College or Bodmin College, once that game has a confirmed date.

At the bottom half of the draw former finalists Bishop Wordsworth’s will travel to Canford on Thursday for what should be a cracking game. By then the winner will know who they are facing in Round 2, and winning in Round 2 will earn a bye to the regional final, as Sir Thomas Rich’s and Marlborough College meet on Wednesday in another absolutely massive high-level game.

South West B

Malvern College v RGS Worcester – Tuesday (winner v Monmouth)

Bloxham v Abingdon – Wednesday

King’s Worcester v Bromsgrove – TBC

Radley College v Henley College – Wednesday

Berkhamsted v RGS High Wycombe – Wednesday

RGS Guildford v Seaford College – Wednesday 6th (winner bye to Round 3)

South West B kicks off on Tuesday with a huge game between Malvern College and RGS Worcester (the term South West is relatively loose in this group), the winner of that will face Welsh side Monmouth in Round 2, who have a bye. On Wednesday Bloxham host Abingdon in what should be a big game, Bloxham are recent Plate winners. The winners there will face either King’s Worcester or 2015 and 2016 champions Bromsgrove in Round 2, though they are yet to confirm a date for their game.

In the bottom half there are some mammoth fixtures, not least the seriously in form Radley College hosting the former ACE College, Henley College, on Wednesday. The winner of that will face the winner of another monstrous game on Wednesday, Berkhamsted v RGS High Wycombe, Berkhamsted are flying this year but RGS are one of the great Schools Cup teams. A week on Wednesday Seaford College will travel to RGS Guildford, and that fixture is able to be so late as the winner has a bye to Round 3.

U18 Schools Vase Fixtures

Although not a designated Vase week a number of schools are taking the chance to get some fixtures in, meaning that there is a bit of a mix of first and second round games taking place, which we summaris below.

North A

Austin Friars v Giggleswick (Round 2)

Wirral Grammar v King William’s College (Round 2)

St Edward’s College, Liverpool v AKS Lytham (Round 2)

Lymm High v St Ambrose College (Round 2)

Austin Friars and Giggleswick go head to head for the chance to meet either Emrysted’s Grammar or Crossley Heath, meanwhile King William’s College head from the Isle of Man to take on Wirral Grammar, with the winners facing either St Edward’s College or AKS Lytham, both of whom are also in action this week. Meanwhile Lymm High host St Ambrose College, with the winner there meeting either The Grange or Sandbach.

North B

Dame Allan’s v Durham (Round 2)

Yarm v Ampleforth College (Round 2)

Hill House v Worksop College (Round 1)

King’s Grantham v Trent College (Round 2)

A big game at the top end as Dame Allan’s host Durham, two sides that played well over the weekend. Meanwhile Yarm host the very much in form Ampleforth College, who will fancy their chances this year. Elsewhere Hill House host Worksop College, with a game at home to Mount St Mary’s College the prize, while King’s Grantham host Trent College with the winner heading to Round 3.

Midlands A

Coventry College v Leicester Grammar (Round 2)

Oundle v Bishop Stopford (Round 1)

Wellingborough v King’s Ely (Round 2)

The Perse v Bishop’s Stortford College (Round 2)

A place in Round 3 is the prize for the winner of Coventry College v Leicester Grammar, a big game as Coventry College have strong ambition and Leicester have a lot of unfinished business in this competition. Elsewhere Oundle and Bishop Stopford meet in a round 1 game, with a trip to Spalding Grammar the prize. In form Wellingborough welcome King’s Ely with a shot at Round 3 on offer, while The Perse welcomeBishop’s Stortford College for the same prize.

Midlands B

Bishop’s Stortford HS v Richard Hale (Round 2)

Beaumont v St Columba’s College (Round 2)

Aylesbury Grammar v Magdalen College (Round 2)

Midlands B has three fixtures, Bishop’s Stortford High welcome Richard Hale as each chase a place in Round 3, while Beaumont host St Columba’s College, also in Round 2. Meanwhile in the other half of the draw there is a good game at Aylesbury Grammar as they host Magdalen College, the winner will then host St Edward’s Oxford in Round 3, whom Magdalen College beat on Saturday.

London & South East A

Shiplake College v Dr Challoner’s Grammar (Round 2)

Farnborough 6th form College v Reed’s (Round 2)

Saint Cecilia’s v Wallington CGS (Round 2)

Reigate Grammar v Worthing College (Round 2)

There are four 2nd Round games in London & South East A this week, at the top of the draw Shiplake College host Dr Challoner’s Grammar, while further down Reed’s, after winning their derby, travel to Farnborough 6th form College. Elsewhere Saint Cecilia’s host Wallington County Grammar and Reigate Grammar welcome Worthing College, the two winners will meet in Round 3.

London & South East B

Ravens Wood v Trinity, Sevenoaks (Round 2)

Robert Clack v Eltham College (Round 2)

St Dunstan’s College v Dartford Grammar (Round 2)

Oakwood Park v Sutton Valence (Round 2)

King’s Canterbury v Maidstone Grammar (Round 2)

Duke of York’s RMS v Simon Langton Grammar (Round 2)

London & South East B sees plenty of action, Ravens Wood travel to Trinity Sevenoaks for a place in Round 3, while Eltham College make the trip to Robert Clack. St Dunstan’s College host Dartford Grammar and Oakwood Park welcome Sutton Valence, with the two winners meeting in Round 3. It is a similar story for the winners in King’s Canterbury v Maidstone Grammar and Duke of York’s v Simon Langton Grammar.

South West A

Exeter School v Wellington School (Round 2)

Downside v Gryphon (Round 2)

QEH v Bristol Grammar (Round 2)

St Peter’s, Gloucester v The Crypt (Round 2)

Exeter School host Wellington School, who came through a thriller in Round 1, while Downside host Gryphon, also in the top half of the draw. In the bottom half Bristol Grammar, a strong Vase side, head to QEH, while former Cup champions St Peter’s Gloucester welcome The Crypt.

South West B

Reading Blue Coat v The Oratory (Round 2)

Peter Symonds’ College v Churcher’s College (Round 2)

South West B is quieter, but the games are huge. Reading Blue Coat welcome The Oratory in what should be a really close game, meanwhile Peter Symonds’ College host Churcher’s College in another great game on paper.

Other School Fixtures:

Tuesday 28th September

Culford v Langley (Schools Bowl) Midlands A

The Bowl kicks off on Tuesday in Midlands A as Culford host Langley, the former Vase champions, in a Suffolk/Norfolk clash.

Wednesday 29th September

Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar v Colfe’s (Schools Bowl) LSE B

Eastbourne College v Sevenoaks (Schools Bowl) LSE B

Ewell Castle v Saints Cecilia’s

Glyn v Hayes

Gravesend Grammar v Beth’s Grammar (Schools Bowl) LSE B

Grey Court v Orleans Park

Holyport v Forest School

King’s Gloucester v Wycliffe College

Latymer Upper v Claremont Fan Court

Reading v Claires Court

Reddam House v Leighton Park

Shebbear College v Plymouth College

St James v Burham Grammar

Triangular: Prince Henry’s, Alcester Grammar, KES Camp Hill

Windsor Boys’ v LVS Ascot

Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg v Christ College

There is more Bowl action on Wednesday, all of it in London & South East B as Chislehurst & Sidcup host Colfe’sGravesend Grammar welcome Beth’s Grammar, and in a real heavyweight clash Eastbourne College host Sevenoaks.

Outside of the knockouts there is plenty else going on, Hayes travel to Glyn is what should be a good game, while Ewell Castle host Saint Cecila’s, Grey Court welcome Orleans Park, and Forest School head to Holyport.

Over in Wales there is an absolute cracker as Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg host Christ  College Brecon, while in Gloucester King’s Gloucester host Wycliffe College. Staying in the South West, Plymouth College travel to Shebbear College, while back towards London Windsor Boys welcome LVS Ascot, St James’ host Burnham GrammarLeighton Park travel to Reddam House, and Reading host Claires Court.

There is also a triangular on Wednesday as Prince Henry’s, Alcester Grammar, and KES Camp Hill all get together for what should be an awesome afternoon

Thursday 30th September

Bryanston v Beechen Cliff 2nd XV

Lasswade High v Loretto

Milton Abbey v Sexey’s

Prior Park College v Cathedral School, Llandaff

The midweek action all rounds off on Wednesday with three games in the South West and one in Scotland as Loretto head over to Lasswade High. In the South West Bryanston test themselves against Beechen Cliff’s non-ACE players, while Sexey’s travel to Milton Abbey. Meanwhile Prior Park College host Welsh stars Cathedral School, Llandaff.

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