Schools Rugby: Weekend Preview – Autumn rugby moves in as October begins

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Coach Logic

After a busy week of Schools Cup action, it’s back into the thick of the block fixtures this weekend and there are some cracking games of rugby coming up.

There are huge derby games, Friday night games, and some major heavyweights going head to head. With the more autumnal weather starting to sweep across the country too, it marks the start of the hard yards of the season as the sunshine slips away and the rain and the mud take over.

On Friday night we will be live streaming from Grasshoppers RFC in West London as The Oratory and London Oratory play out their huge annual derby game, and in a first for the season we will also be live streaming the 2nd XV game prior to the 1st XV kicking off – you will be able to watch both below and on our YouTube channel.

Ten to Watch

As ever, we begin with our Ten to Watch. Ten games that we will be keeping a particularly close eye on this weekend and on which you can vote for who you think will emerge on top this weekend.

Clifton College v Cheltenham College

A huge game, Clifton are off to a really strong start this season, with victories over Sir Thomas Rich’s and Llandovery College in the opening two weeks. Most impressive of all though was a 27-0 defeat of Rugby School last time out, Rugby have been absolutely brilliant in the early stages of this season and for Clifton to put on such a dominant display against them was a real sign of their quality. Cheltenham’s start was tricky, a loss at home to Monmouth, however they followed that with a good victory at Marlborough College and since then Monmouth have gone on to demonstrate that the opening day victory was no flash in the pan. A trip to Clifton is a tough task for anyone, but Cheltenham will be up for it, be in no doubt, for Clifton though this is a chance to keep building that irresistible momentum.

Who will win Clifton College v Cheltenham College?

Dulwich College v Wellington College

For the first five years, roughly, of the last decade this was arguably the game of the season. Two absolute giants of the school game who also happened to be consistently among the very best. Wellington College remain so, and in a fortnight will be aiming to retain their St Joseph’s Festival title, they have been magnificent so far this season. For Dulwich College the glory years might be gone, for now, and the season has begun in a tricky fashion, but on their glorious 1st XV pitch against one of the top teams around, they will be utterly determined to show they very best of themselves – and at their best they are a joy to watch. Wellington College meanwhile look to make it four in a row and keep up their momentum ahead of a run of games that will see schools rugby afficionados around the world take notice: Millfield, St Joseph’s Festival, Clifton College. A stretch that could be season defining.

Who will win Dulwich College v Wellington College?

Kirkham Grammar v Denstone College

Almost always among the very best sides around, this is arguably going to be the biggest test of the season so far for Kirkham Grammar School and begins a really tricky run in to half term that sees them take on Northampton School for Boys and then head to the St Joseph’s Festival where they will be among the favourites. They have been outstanding to take, winning four from four, but Denstone College are a really strong outfit. They bounced back from a tight opening day defeat to NSB with three victories on the spin, including in front of our cameras at Warwick School last Friday, where they slowly but surely turned on the forward power and organisation to close a tight game out. This ought to be a fantastic game on Saturday afternoon, between two excellent school rugby sides.

Who will win Kirkham Grammar v Denstone College?

RGS Newcastle v Woodhouse Grove

This should be another cracker between two sides that have plenty of quality. RGS have had a strange old season, beating St Peter’s York before cancellations hit their next two fixtures. On Wednesday they were back in action though, beating Hartlepool in the Cup and gaining vital match practice ahead of a game against a Woodhouse Grove side that are looking strong. Our cameras took in their opening game in the season where we got a first glimpse of their quality with a 17-12 defeat of Barnard Castle, whose quality is well known, then last week they took on the mighty Sedbergh. They may have lost, but few do not against Sedbergh, but the quality of their performance was another marker of just how good this side can be. Saturday against RGS Newcastle ought to be another great game.

Who will win RGS Newcastle v Woodhouse Grove?

Rugby v Marlborough College

This is a bit of a classic fixture between two of the oldest rugby playing institutions in the country, on the surface though this year it looks as though Rugby might be the clear favourites with Marlborough College having lost their opening four on the spin, however this fixture actually has plenty of intrigue about it. Marlborough’s results and performances have been getting better and better week on week and their confidence should be building back after a bit of a shellshock in the opener at Radley. Rugby School meanwhile have a bit of a shellshock of their own to get over having had such a bright start before last week’s tough encounter against Clifton College. The test for them will be can they bounce right back and show their undoubted quality again straight away? It makes for a game that should prove very interesting.

Who will win Rugby v Marlborough College?

Sherborne v Millfield

Two of the strongest sides in the South West, if not the entire country, this is a massive game for both sides. Sherborne lost a tight opening game against a Radley College side that are proving fearsome and have backed that up with a good victory over KES Bath before a tight Cup victory over a Colston’s side that are impressing. Millfield will be another step up altogether though and the sky blues will need to be at their absolute best. Millfield, who seems to nurture pro players by the bucketload, have started the season on fire. They have faced Blundell’s and Coleg Sir Gar, two sides that have traditionally been tough outfits, and have come away with a total of 92 points scored and just 12 conceded. They are in absolutely flying form, but this Sherborne fixture marks the start of a key period of the season, which sees them next host Wellington College in a massive game before both sides head to the St Joseph’s Festival – the winner of that Millfield v Wellington game will start the Festival as favourites. Momentum with a strong performance v Sherborne will be key.

Who will win Sherborne v Millfield

St Paul’s v Radley College

This should be a fascinating game, and one from which we hope to be able to bring you regular updates. St Paul’s have started the season impressively, with strong victories over Campion and Emanuel, and a very strong performance away at Epsom College in a defeat by just three points. On Saturday though, they come up against their fiercest test yet, hosting a Radley College side that are in utterly rampant form. Only Sherborne have truly troubled them, sandwiched between strong victories over Marlborough College and St Edward’s, while they had a strong performance over Henley College in the Cup in midweek. It is there that the intrigue in this one begins though, with only two days of rest between the Cup game and Saturday’s game, recovery will be key for Radley, and this is also their first away game of the season. Those two key facts perhaps mean that this weekend, more than any other so far, we will learn a huge amount about Radley College, and for St Paul’s it spells a real chance to cause them big problems. It ought to be a fantastic game of rugby between two good sides, one of which is among the form sides nationwide so far.

Who will win St Paul's v Radley College?

The Oratory v London Oratory

The first of three derby games to round off our Ten to Watch. We will be at Grasshoppers RFC to live stream this game and it ought to be a magnificent encounter. You can see our full preview here: The Oratory v London Oratory, but suffice to say that this is one of the biggest games of the year for both sides, and pre-covid the U16s and U15 age-groups had some fantastic encounters. With those age-groups now making up the 1st XV and 2nd XV for each (we will also be streaming the 2nd XV game), it bodes well for a brilliant encounter on Friday night.

Who will win The Oratory v London Oratory?

Uppingham v Stamford

Just 12 miles separate these two rivals, but on Saturday it will be more than just rivalry on show – this is a key game for both, though it currently hangs in the balance with the possible threat of cancellation lingering. If it can go ahead though, this is a chance for momentum for both. Uppingham’s season start with a close defeat to Warwick before a tough outing against Bedford, followed by Wednesday’s cancelled Cup game against NSB. At their famous Leicester 1st XV pitch against old rivals Stamford, this would be a big chance to secure and performance and victory from which to kick start the season. Stamford had that last week with a really strong victory over Solihull following three defeats on the spin to start their season, the challenge for them is to sustain that momentum and build on it, which Uppingham will, without doubt, be going all out to avoid allowing them to do.

Uppingham v Stamford

Wimbledon College v KCS Wimbledon

It takes less than ten minutes to walk between these two schools, probably the closest derby game in the country, but for the side on the wrong end of this one, it will feel oh so much longer. This year the derby feels even more special, for it feels like a fairly defining game for both. KCS Wimbledon have made our Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend twice in the opening three weeks and scored over fifty points in each of their opening three games. However we said in that video that the next three games leading up to half term would be season defining, Hampton in the Cup, Wimbledon College, and Cranleigh. On Wednesday Hampton dampened the KCS party with a 16-3 victory, making Saturday’s game even more vital as they seek to quickly get back on the horse. It will have challenges though, not least of which is being the visiting school, the other big one is that Wimbledon College will be bouncing ahead of this one, desperate to kick start their season after three defeats on the spin to start it – what better way to re-set than against your closest rivals. It ought to be a great spectacle and a wonderful atmosphere.

Who will win Wimbledon College v KCS Wimbledon?

Friday 1st October

It’s a busy Friday night, in addition to our live stream of The Oratory v London Oratory there are games going on right across the country, not least in the Schools Vase where Sir William Borlase’s Grammar and Windsor Boys’ go head to head.

Mill Hill and St Benedict’s meet at Saracens’ StoneX Stadium, which should make for an absolutely brilliant atmosphere and occasion, while in the South West St Edward’s Cheltenham host Rendcomb College.

Further North, St Joseph’s College in Stoke host Newcastle-under-Lyme in an afternoon kick off, with Glenalmond College hosting Dundee High School in Scotland at a similar time.

Then at 6.45 comes a cracking encounter in the North West as Sandbach welcome King’s Macclesfield to town, for what promises to be a fantastic encounter.

Saturday 2nd October

Outside of our Ten to Watch there are plenty of other absolutely massive games on Saturday, not least in the Schools Cup, where Lancaster RGS host Stonyhurst College in the North A section. It should be an even contest and a cracking game, and with the prize being a home tie against Kirkham Grammar School, plenty to play for too.

Sedbergh are also in action on Saturday as they finally start to string some games together. They head to Durham on Saturday looking for three wins from three, while Durham are trying to recover after a Cup defeat to Dame Allan’s in midweek.

Elsewhere in the North East Barnard Castle head over to Austin Friars, two sides with plenty of Newcastle Falcons players among their ranks and therefore with plenty of familiarity.

Things are busy in the North West, where among the highlights will be Wirral Grammar v Wilmlsow High School, Wirral Grammar have been playing some great rugby, reaching our Top 5 in week 2, while Wilmslow will be looking to make a statement as they search for a bit of form. Meanwhile Merchant Taylors’ Crosby host Liverpool College and Birkenhead welcome Hutton Grammar, while Lymm High School make the trip to Altrincham Grammar.

Grammar School at Leeds cross the Pennines to take on St Ambrose College, in what should be a fantastic game, while travelling the other way are AKS Lytham, who take on Giggleswick. One of the games of the day in Yorkshire though sees the very much in form Ampleforth College heading to Hymers College, who have had some strong diplays themselves, for what should be a fantastic match.

Further south Nottingham High School welcome a strong opponent in the form of Mount St Mary’s College, while Worksop College head over to Ratcliffe College in what should be a good even game of rugby.

Oakham are in action at home to Bromsgrove in what is one of the biggest games of the weekend outside of our Ten to Watch, both have faced some strong sides in the opening few weeks, Bromsgrove head over in search of a first victory, while Oakham, after a spate of cancellations, look to build on their victory against St Peter’s.

Into Northamptonshire where there is a game between two sides that have contributed heavily to Northampton Saints in recent times, Northampton School for Boys and St Joseph’s College. Everything so far suggests a close game, not least because St Joseph’s are making a habit of close games on their unbeaten start, and it should be high level encounter, too.

One of the teams of September are Stowe, with three wins from three versus Stamford, Bromsgrove, and Bloxham, they now host Oundle after a two game away run and will be eager to make it 4/4 on home turf. For Oundle it is a chance to build on the momentum of a first victory of the season in midweek, a season that started with a tough outing at Bedford but then looked worse than it really was with back to back defeats that were actually unbelievably close. This will be a stern test, but one they will relish.

Bedford’s season has been up and down, that big win over Oundle was followed by a big defeat to Rugby, but then they bounced back with a big win over Uppingham. They will need their Oundle and Uppingham form on Saturday as they welcome an Eton College side that showed some real quality and grit against Tonbridge last week in a game that could really have got away from them.  Meanwhile local rivals Bedford Modern host a Wellingborough side that have quietly enjoyed a formidable September and will be fierce in their attempt to have similar success in October.

There are some great games deeper into East Anglia, not least Gresham’s v Felsted a clash of two sides that have had some phenomenal players pass through their ranks and two teams that love to play good rugby. Meanwhile Norwich host The Perse, two sides that had contrasting fortunes in midweek but that will both be bang in the mood for this one. The Leys meanwhile head to Framlingham College, while Wisbech Grammar School take on a club side in the form of Peterborough RFC.

Hertfordshire sees some great action, as every, Haileybury make the trip to St Albans and will be looking for the form that saw them draw with a powerful Seaford College side in our live stream last week. Meanwhile Richard Hale host Brentwood, with QES Barnet welcoming Coopers’ Coborn, and Bishop’s Stortford High School host RGS Colchester.

Heading West and Shiplake College look to build on a brilliant effort in midweek as they host St George’s College Weybridge, while in Oxford Abingdon are in search of a first victory of the season as they welcome and in form Reading Blue Coat side to their magnificent 1st XV pitch.

Coventry sees Leicester Grammar School head to Bablake & King Henry VIII, who have made a brilliant start to the season, while in Stratford KES welcome an in form Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School side.

The Birmingham area has some fascinating games, including Warwick taking on two 1st XVs with one side in action against Samuel Whitbread Academy and the other hosting Magdalen College, who showed their skill and desire last week to beat St Edward’s. Two challenging contest no doubt.

King’s Worcester meanwhile host Loughborough Grammar, while Solihull look to bounce back from a tough outing last time as they welcome St Peter’s Gloucester. Malvern College, meanwhile welcome Kingswood to their superb setting, while over in Wales there is a massive clash as Monmouth, who have been utterly brilliant so far, take on Sir Thomas Rich’s, who have been facing some of the toughest sides around already and have been showing up well.

The South West features some fantastic games of rugby, perhaps chief among them Dean Close v RGS Worcester, so much is expected of Dean Close these days and they are two from two, but a very much in form RGS side are going to be their toughest opponents so far.

The only side to beat RGS are Colston’s, and they look to continue their impressive season with a game away at Taunton School, while Taunton’s rivals, King’s College host Bristol Grammar in what is usually a good contest. Queen’s College Taunton meanwhile travel to Wells Cathedral.

Elsewhere Pate’s Grammar welcome QEH, while there is a good head to head between Monkton Combe and King’s Bruton, with Mount Kelly travelling to Milton Abbey. Meanwhile Dauntsey’s welcome KES Southampton up from the South Coast.

The South Coast has some good games, Eastbourne College take on Seaford College’s 2nd XV, which should actually be a pretty good contest, while Portsmouth Grammar host Ryde. Meanwhile it is a trip out of London for City of London Freemen’s as they head to Churcher’s College.

In and around London the big games keep on coming, with Trinity v Brighton College one of the biggest in the entire country, Trinity are playing brilliantly and had a storming victory in midweek against Wimbledon College, while last week Brighton College picked up their first win after a stuttery start with a brilliant performance against Dulwich College, they will be hoping to build on that on Saturday.

Tonbridge are among the form sides in the country and will be eager to build on that at home in Kent on Saturday as they welcome Skinners’ to town. Meanwhile Ashford host Dunottar and Cranbrook welcomeDuke of York’s Royal Military School.

Over in Surrey St John’s Leatherhead are in action at RGS Guildford, a game that should be a really even contest, while elsewhere in the surrounds of the capital, Caterham host Eltham College, two other well matched teams, while St Dunstan’s College head to King’s Rochester and St Lawrence College host Sutton Valence. Look out too for Cranleigh 2nd XV making the trip to Worth.

One of the major games in the area on Saturday will be the trip of Hurstpierpoint College to Hampton. Hurstpierpoint got off the mark last weekend and will want to build on that, while Hampton, as if it needed more proving, proved their quality by defeating the previously dominant KCS Wimbledon in the Cup this week. Elsewhere St Olave’s head to Sir Joseph Williamson’s, with Latymer Upper in action at Isleworth & Syon, Cardinal Vaughan meanwhile host Gordon’s, who ACE side enjoyed their first victory on Wednesday.

There is a big game in the Schools Bowl as Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar head to Colfe’s, a game that could go either way, while outside of the knockout competitions Wallington Country Grammar host Langley Park and Tiffin travel to Gunnersbury. Gravesend Grammar meanwhile welcome Chatham & Clarendon, while in North London Merchant Taylors are welcoming UCS to their picturesque setting.

There is a big game in East London as Campion host a Reed’s side that will be eager for a strong result, further east still, Dartford Grammar host The Judd, while in West London it is a visit from Reigate Grammar for Emanuel.

As ever there are some massive games in Scotland, chief among them the impressive Strathallan, whose girls side played their first ever game in midweek, hosting Merchiston Castle, a contest between two of the strongest around. There are plenty of big names going head to head, not least George Heriot’s hosting George Watson’s College, whose 2nd XV also face 1st XV opposition in the form of St Leonards, meanwhile it’s club opposition for Robert Gordon’s College with Howe of Fife visiting.

Dollar Academy have a tricky trip to Edinburgh Academy, while Kelvinside Academy head to Hutchesons’ Grammar and Marr College welcome Glasgow High, Glasgow Academy meanwhile host St Aloysius’ College. One of the biggest games of the day, no doubt, will be the trip of Fettes College to Stewart’s Melville.

If you have any photos, video, reports, or any other content from the week’s school rugby then please do send it in via our social media channels or and if you are interested in us live streaming one of your games or an event then please do get in touch!

Friday 1st October

Glenalmond College v Dundee HS

Mill Hill v St Benedict’s

Sandbach v King’s Macclesfield

Sir William Borlase’s Grammar v Windsor Boys’ (Schools Vase)

St Edward’s, Cheltenham v Rendcomb College

St Joseph’s College, Stoke v Newcastle-Under-Lyme

The Oratory v London Oratory

Saturday 2nd October

Abingdon v Reading Blue Coat

Altrincham GS v Lymm HS

Ashford v Dunottar

Austin Friars v Barnard Castle

Bablake & King Henry VIII, Coventry v Leicester Grammar

Bedford Modern v Wellingborough

Bedford v Eton College

Birkenhead v Hutton Grammar

Bishop’s Stortford High v RGS Colchester

Campion v Reed’s

Cardinal Vaughan v Gordon’s

Caterham v Eltham College

Churcher’s College v City of London Freemen’s

Clifton College v Cheltenham College

Colfe’s v Chislehurst & Sidcup GS (Schools Bowl)

Cranbrook v Duke of York’s RMS

Dartford Grammar v The Judd

Dauntsey’s v KES Southampton

Dean Close v RGS Worcester

Dulwich College v Wellington College

Durham v Sedbergh

Eastbourne College v Seaford College 2nd XV

Edinburgh Academy v Dollar Academy

Emanuel v Reigate Grammar

Framlingham College v The Leys

George Heriot’s v George Watson’s College

Giggleswick v AKS Lytham

Glasgow Academy v St Aloysius’ College

Gravesend Grammar v Chatham & Clarendon Grammar

Gresham’s v Felsted

Gunnersbury v Tiffin

Hampton v Hurstpierpoint College

Hutchesons’ Grammar v Kelvinside Academy

Hymers College v Ampleforth College

Isleworth & Syon v Latymer Upper

KES Stratford v Bishop Vesey’s

King’s College, Taunton v Bristol Grammar

King’s Rochester v St Dunstan’s College

King’s Worcester v Loughborough Grammar

Kirkham Grammar v Denstone College

Lancaster RGS v Stonyhurst College (Schools Cup)

Malvern College v Kingswood

Marr College v Glasgow High

Merchant Taylors’, Crosby v Liverpool College

Merchant Taylors’, Northwood v UCS
Nottingham High v Mount St Mary’s College

Milton Abbey v Mount Kelly

Monkton Combe v King’s Bruton

Monmouth v Sir Thomas Rich’s

Northampton School for Boys v St Joseph’s College

Norwich v The Perse

Oakham v Bromsgrove

Pate’s Grammar v QEH

Portsmouth Grammar v Ryde with Upper Chine

QES, Barnet v Coopers’ Coborn

Ratcliffe College v Worksop College

RGS Guildford v St John’s, Leatherhead

RGS Newcastle v Woodhouse Grove

Richard Hale v Brentwood

Robert Gordon’s College v Howe of Fife RFC

Rugby v Marlborough College

Sherborne v Millfield

Shiplake College v St George’s College, Weybridge

Sir Joseph Williamson’s v St Olave’s Grammar

Solihull v St Peter’s, Gloucester

St Albans v Haileybury

St Ambrose College v Grammar School at Leeds

St Lawrence College v Sutton Valence

St Leonards v George Watson’s College 2nd XV

St Paul’s v Radley College

Stewart’s Melville v Fettes College

Stowe v Oundle

Strathallan v Merchiston Castle

Taunton v Colston’s

Tonbridge v Skinners’

Trinity v Brighton College

Uppingham v Stamford

Wallington County Grammar v Langley Park

Warwick 2nd XV v Magdalen College

Warwick v Samuel Whitbread Academy

Wells Cathedral v Queen’s College, Taunton

Wimbledon College v KCS Wimbledon

Wirral Grammar v Wilmslow High

Wisbech Grammar v Peterborough RFC

Worth v Cranleigh 2nd XV

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