Saturday was a seismic day of school rugby, some of the top sides in the country went head to head, a number of September’s pace-setters were toppled, and there were some extraordinary comebacks.
It has been a fairly unpredictable season so far but Saturday saw things reach new levels as half term approaches. The quality was high, too, anyone lucky enough to see Millfield v Wellington College saw a game played at level that was simply exceptional – it was one of a number like that.
Ten to Watch
As ever, we begin with our Ten to Watch and in a clear sign of what a competitive and unpredictable weekend it was, our readers had their lowest successful prediction rate of the season so far. Just 50% of fixtures were predicted correctly, just a week after a clean sweep of predictions. It highlighted that this was competitive school rugby at its finest.
One side that is becoming more predictable though, from a results point of view, are Brighton College who chalked up their third strong victory in a row as they hosted RGS High Wycombe and sealed a superb 42-5 victory to send them into the St Joseph’s Festival this weekend coming in absolutely red hot form. Our readers know it too, 80% had backed Brighton College, such is their upward trend after a tricky opening couple of games.
51% predicted a Hampton victory at home against Epsom College, that is was so close was a good call but the narrow majority just got things wrong as it was Epsom College that took the victory in a thrilling game, 21-18. Both sides were unbeaten, and it was quickly proven that these were two top sides going hard at each other. In the end it went the way of Epsom College, but both showed their class.
Kirkham Grammar have been showing their class all season long and did so on Saturday as they extended their unbeaten season with a superb 29-10 victory over a high quality Northampton School for Boys side. Proving the views of 75% of readers correct, and holding on to their status as one of the key contenders at the St Joseph’s Festvial this weekend.
Two sides that are surely going to be the most key of key contenders though are Millfield and Wellington College, who played out the most high quality game of rugby that we have seen this year. 56% of readers predicted a Wellington College victory and in truth it could have gone either way, but it was the 44% minority that got their predictions right as Millfield ran out 26-20 victors thanks to a try worthy of winning such a high quality game from full back Amir Sultan-Edwards, it was a stunning piece of individual brilliance. Prior to the game we said that the winner of this will be the favourites going into the St Joseph’s Festival, and after that game that statement stands these are the top two seeds heading into St Joseph’s and a final between them would be one of the great Festival finals.
Tonbridge put in one of the top performances of the weekend as they defeated the previously unbeaten Radley College 32-7 away from home. Coming right off the back of a shock home defeat to Skinners’ last week, 57% of you correctly predicted that this outstanding Tonbridge side would come bouncing back. That they did so with such dominance and against a side with such a reputation this as Radley was utterly outstanding.
One of the most extraordinary games of the day was Rugby v Stowe. Two brilliant sides with outstanding records, 52% made Stowe their favourites – most likely due to their unbeaten start, versus Rugby’s strong start but a start that did see them beaten by Clifton College. They certainly looked like backing the predictions early on as they took a 17-0 lead, but what followed was a sublime comeback on The Close as Rugby, perhaps with thoughts of Harlequins in their minds, stormed back for a stunning 29-22 victory. It was an outstanding game between two brilliant sides, and it also doubled up as a Cup game, with Rugby progressing to the regional semi finals in Midlands A, Stowe meanwhile drop down to the Plate where they must surely be among the favourites.
One game that went exactly as predicted was Sedbergh v St Peter’s York. 92% predicted a Sedbergh victory and they proved the readers right with a good 28-7 victory on Buskhome. It has been a disjointed start for Sedbergh, thanks to cancellations, but they are unbeaten and looking in very good shape as they prepare to host Whitgift in a monster tie this weekend coming. St Peter’s should take heart though, that is no bad result against the strength of Sedbergh.
One side that knows all about the threat of Whitgift are Harrow, who confirmed the predictions of 78% of you that they would bounce back from that defeat to the Croydon side as they sealed a brilliant 19-0 victory away at St Paul’s. It was another fantastic performance from Harrow, who have put in some stormers this year. For St Paul’s, a tricky result but again a defeat against a side that are unquestionably one of the best around.
One of the most impressive performances of the whole weekend was that of Stamford as they welcomed Warwick. The form book suggested this would be close, after all they have had comparable results against common opposition, our readers meanwhile were backing Warwick by 60%. However Stamford put in a supreme performance. Sealing a brilliant 43-14 victory that was so far in excess of what was expected and having opened the season with 3 defeats of the spin, they have now since had 3 victories on the bounce and are looking red hot.
The final game of our Ten to Watch was the closest of the lot, and our readers thought it would be – they were split right down the middle, 50/50. It was not quite as close as that, but it finished up Woodhouse Grove 14-13 Denstone College. It will be a tough pill for Denstone to swallow, following on from that defeat to Kirkham, but they will reflect on a strong display either way when the dust settles. For Woodhouse Grove it is another massive scalp, and good preparation for this week’s game against QEGS Wakefield in the Cup.
Friday 8th October
Friday saw some fantastic performances, not least another strong performance from Monmouth, whose unbeaten start was extended thanks to a 24-10 victory at home to Malvern College.
Trinity bounced back from defeat to Brighton College last week with a strong performance under the lights on Friday against a determined St John’s Leatherhead side, sealing an impressive 29-16 victory. Meanwhile Churcher’s College and Reading Blue Coat played out a really entertaining 21-21 draw. There was also Schools Vase action as Bishop Vesey’s Grammar secured a 19-5 victory over KES Birmingham in Midlands A, progressing to Round 3 where they will host Old Swinford Hospital.
Saturday 9th October
Saturday saw some truly outstanding performances and up there with the very best was an exceptional 43-0 victory for Berkhamsted over Eton College. It is their fourth victory in four games, but perhaps the most extraordinary thing of all is that they have conceded just three points all season. They face Radley College in midweek who will surely test that, but Berkhamsted are looking like one of the strongest sides in the country.
Among those that Berkhamsted have flexed their muscles against are Abingdon, and they had one of the most impressive results of any school in the country on Saturday as they beat Sherborne 20-17. The form book in the build up suggested that Sherborne had the edge, but Abingdon dug in at home to take the win by three points, to add to their close win over Reading Blue Coat a few days before.
Bloxham, who beat Abingdon in the Cup, were back in Oxford again too and on Saturday they travelled to Magdalen College and came away with a strong 29-19 victory. Meanwhile St Edward’s were on the road from Oxford as they travelled to Malborough College. Marlborough were yet to earn a victory this season, but on Saturday they were utterly sensational as they stormed to a 57-7 victory.
The Oratory, so impressive against London Oratory last week, were in a really tight game at home against Aylesbury Grammar, who have impressed this year, but came through for a thrilling 27-24 victory. Meanwhile in Henley, Shiplake College were in good form as they secured a fifth win from six with a 31-17 defeat of UCS.
Along the way from Berkhamsted, QES Barnet hosted St Columba’s and the visitors were on fire for a 17-8 victory. Meanwhile Bishop’s Stortford was full of visitors from Cambridge as The Leys travelled to Bishop’s Stortford College and came back with a 31-21 victory, however it was honours even in the Stortford/Cambridge battle as Bishop’s Stortford High claimed a 22-15 victory over The Perse.
One of the games of the day not just in the Midlands but across the country was Wellingborough v Bablake & King Henry VIII. Both have had exceptional starts to the season but as the game went on it looked as through Wellingborough might have the upper hand. However Bablake held their discipline brilliantly and by utilising an outstanding kicking game they put Wellingborough in areas of the field that simply required too much to get out from, all aiding what was ultimately an absolutely superb 27-19 victory for the visitors.
Bedford Modern also enjoyed victory, beating Loughborough Grammar 19-12, while in Suffolk Ipswich were once again in brilliant form as they defeated Gresham’s 45-12 and Royal Hospital School enjoyed a famous 17-12 victory over Haileybury on a glorious day. Norfolk, meanwhile, saw Norwich School in impressive shape against Framlingham College, winning 29-12.
Back in Northamptonshire there was a thrilling draw between Oundle and Felsted, 10-10, while in Nottingham there was an astonishing performance from Nottingham High School as they beat Worksop College 54-5.
Over in the West Midlands there were some brilliant performances, but nothing can quite compare to the 75-15 victory for RGS Worcester over Princethorpe College. RGS are really looking quite exceptional this season. Local rivals King’s Worcester are in strong form too, and the sealed a 39-18 victory over QEH, meanwhile Old Swinford Hospital enjoyed another good win, beating Solihull 29-12 away from home.
Bromsgrove won a high scoring and entertaining game at home to Uppingham, finishing up 43-20 victors after a strong performance. Meanwhile Ellesmere College travelled to Adams Grammar and kept the hosts scoreless at 29-0, there was an away win for The Crypt too, who beat KES Stratford 29-14.
Further North, Wirral Grammar School were again on song, this time winning a really close one at Cheadle Hulme, 32-26. Lymm High School won a similar game at Stockport Grammar 31-20, and things were tight at St Anselm’s College too, where St Ambrose College won 25-19. Meanwhile across the border in Wales, Liverpool College defeated Rydal Penrhos 24-10.
Barnard Castle, meanwhile travelled to Lancaster RGS and a cracking game broke out, finishing up 26-18 in the visitors’ favour. Back in the North East Durham had one of their best performances of the season as they beat Ampleforth College, so impressive through much of this season, 34-14. RGS Newcastle meanwhile beat Dame Allan’s 38-10.
Loretto travelled south from Scotland to take on Austin Friars and boy was it worth the trip for them as they sealed a stunning 60-0 victory over their English rivals. Back in Scotland there was an incredibly intense battle between two of the biggest names in Scottish schools rugby, Merchiston Castle and Stewart’s Melville. It was low scoring and intense, but it was Stewart’s Melville that returned home with the spoils, 7-3. Meanwhile things were higher scoring but even closer between Stirling High and Strathallan, while George Heriot’s secured a 35-12 victory away at Fettes College.
Returning to England, in Yorkshire Mount St Mary’s College once again demonstrated their class with an outstanding 41-7 dismantling of Giggleswick, while Grammar School at Leeds did well to seal a 24-7 victory at Bradford Grammar in their Leeds/Bradford derby. Trent College meanwhile travelled north from Nottingham to Pocklington and returned home with a 32-12 victory.
Way over in the South West Clifton College continue to look every inch like one of the strongest sides in the country as they secured a 33-10 victory in their local derby away at Bristol Grammar. Few look able to match Clifton right now.
Elsewhere, Colston’s continue to impress. They sealed a thrilling 45-24 victory at KES Bath. Meanwhile King’s Bruton and Exeter School played out a 20-20 draw, while Wellington School beat Prior Park College 29-15 and Mount Kelly were 17-5 victors at home to West Buckland.
Kingswood held a triangular, and through it did not quite work out for them as they might have hoped, with 7-0 defeats to both Wycliffe College and Monkton Combe, Wycliffe will be very happy with their afternoon after beating Monkton Combe 27-12 to claim top spot in the triangular. Elsewhere Ryde were on fire in a 41-7 defeat of Milton Abbey, while Dauntsey’s won a thriller against Pangbourne College, 26-22.
Over in Wales Cathedral School Llandaff won a good contest against King’s Gloucester, 19-10, while in Devon Blundell’s were in form in a 22-7 victory over Taunton. Cornwall meanwhile saw Truro School in sensational form, beating Plymouth College 43-19.
Over in the South East Skinners’ proved that last week’s victory at Tonbridge was no flash in the pan as they travelled to Hurstpierpoint College and came away with yet another outstanding away win, 25-12.
They were far from the only side to do well away from home, Eltham College won 19-5 at Colfe’s, while Simon Langton won 10-3 at King’s Canterbury and St Albans, fresh from victory over Haileybury, won 23-10 at Campion. Meanwhile there was a tense draw at Caterham, with Emanuel the side that held them, 17-17.
KCS Wimbledon have proven themselves to be one of the top sides around this year, but on Saturday they faced their toughest game of the campaign, away at school rugby heavyweights, Cranleigh. They came through the test though, and in what style – it was a compelling game, but KCS came through to take a 32-24 victory back to South West London. Only Hampton so far have beaten them this year, and that was in the Cup.
Elsewhere Whitgift were on song again, winning 38-14 at Chislehurst & Sidcup, but their 2nd XV had a tough outing at Sutton Valence 1st XV, who showed their class for a 55-7 victory. Elsewhere Maidstone Grammar won 22-7 at Sir Joseph Williamson’s, while there was a brilliant victory for London Oratory at St George’s College Weybridge, 17-7.
St George’s great rivals, Reed’s, were victorious on Saturday as they saw off Eastbourne College 34-15, meanwhile RGS Guildford were 14-7 winners against The Judd. Gordon’s were sensational, winning 55-0 at Latymer Upper, similarly RGS Colchester, who beat Coopers’ Coborn 54-7.
Bedford won an absolute thriller at Dulwich College, the oldest fixture on these schools’ calendars. It went right down to the wire, but Bedford claimed it, 29-24. Things were close at City of London Freemen’s too, they beat Dartford Grammar 14-12, while it was even for tense at Duke or York’s, where King’s Rochester edged an absolute thriller 28-27.
Elsewhere, Christ’s Hospital won a good game at home to Sevenoaks, 25-19, while Cranbrook held off the challenge from St Lawrence College, 21-14. Meanwhile Reigate Grammar won a close one at home to Worth, 13-7, and St George’s Harpdenden were on form away at Watford Grammar for an excellent 34-7 victory.
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Friday 8th October
Bishop Vesey’s Grammar 19-5 KES Birmingham (Schools Vase)
Churcher’s College 21-21 Reading Blue Coat
Monmouth 24-10 Malvern College
Trinity 29-16 St John’s, Leatherhead
Saturday 9th October
Abingdon 20-17 Sherborne
Adams Grammar 0-29 Ellesmere College
Austin Friars 0-60 Loretto
Bedford Modern 19-12 Loughborough Grammar
Berkhamsted 43-0 Eton College
Bishop’s Stortford College 21-31 The Leys
Bishop’s Stortford High 22-15 The Perse
Blundell’s 22-7 Taunton
Bradford Grammar 7-24 Grammar School at Leeds
Brighton College 42-5 RGS High Wycombe
Bristol Grammar 10-33 Clifton College
Bromsgrove 43-20 Uppingham
Campion 10-23 St Albans
Caterham 17-17 Emanuel
Cathedral School, Llandaff 19-10 King’s Gloucester
Cheadle Hulme 26-32 Wirral Grammar
Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar 14-38 Whitgift
Christ’s Hospital 25-19 Sevenoaks
City of London Freemen’s 14-12 Dartford Grammar
Colfe’s 5-19 Eltham College
Cranbrook 21-14 St Lawrence College
Cranleigh 24-32 KCS Wimbledon
Dame Allan’s 10-38 RGS Newcastle
Dauntsey’s 26-22 Pangbourne College
Duke of York’s RMS 27-28 King’s Rochester
Dulwich College 24-29 Bedford
Durham 34-14 Ampleforth College
Fettes College 12-35 George Heriot’s
Hampton 18-21 Epsom College
Hurstpierpoint College 12-25 Skinners’
Ipswich 45-12 Gresham’s
KES Bath 24-45 Colston’s
KES Stratford 14-29 The Crypt
King’s Bruton 20-20 Exeter
King’s Canterbury 3-10 Simon Langton Grammar
King’s Worcester 39-18 QEH
Kingswood Triangular: Kingswood 0-7 Wycliffe College, Kingswood 0-7 Monkton Combe, Wycliffe College 27-12 Monkton Combe
Kirkham Grammar 29-10 Northampton School for Boys
Lancaster RGS 18-26 Barnard Castle
Latymer Upper 0-55 Gordon’s
Magdalen College 19-29 Bloxham
Marlborough College 57-7 St Edward’s, Oxford
Merchiston Castle 3-7 Stewart’s Melville
Millfield 26-20 Wellington College
Mount Kelly 17-5 West Buckland
Mount St Mary’s College 41-7 Giggleswick
Newcastle School for Boys 55-7 Yarm
Norwich 29-12 Framlingham College
Nottingham High 54-5 Worksop College
Oundle 10-10 Felsted
Pocklington 12-32 Trent College
QES, Barnet 8-17 St Columba’s College
Radley College 7-32 Tonbridge
Reed’s 34-15 Eastbourne College
Reigate Grammar 13-7 Worth
RGS Colchester 54-7 Coopers’ Coborn
RGS Guildford 14-7 The Judd
RGS Worcester 75-15 Princethorpe College
Royal Hospital School 17-12 Haileybury
Rugby 29-22 Stowe (Schools Cup)
Rydal Penrhos 10-24 Liverpool College
Ryde with Upper Chine 41-7 Milton Abbey
Sedbergh 28-7 St Peter’s, York
Shiplake College 31-17 UCS
Sir Joseph Williamson’s 7-22 Maidstone Grammar
Solihull 12-29 Old Swinford Hospital
St Anselm’s College 19-25 St Ambrose College
St George’s College, Weybridge 7-17 London Oratory
St Paul’s 0-19 Harrow
Stamford 43-14 Warwick
Stirling High 20-20 Strathallan
Stockport Grammar 20-31 Lymm High
Sutton Valence 55-7 Whitgift 2nd XV
The Oratory 27-24 Aylesbury Grammar
Truro 43-19 Plymouth College
Watford Grammar 7-34 St George’s Harpenden
Wellingborough 19-27 Bablake & King Henry VIII Coventry
Wellington School 29-15 Prior Park College
Wells Cathedral 12-50 Downside
Woodhouse Grove 14-13 Denstone College
Still to Come:
Wymondham College v Woodbridge
Bryanston v Canford
Hymers College v Ashville Harrogate
Merchant Taylors’, Crosby v Hutton Grammar
Sandbach v Wilmslow High
St Olave’s Grammar v St Dunstan’s College
Wimbledon College v Tiffin