Schools Rugby: Weekend Preview – 16th October, massive games beyond the Festivals

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Coach Logic

As well as the St Joseph’s Festival and the Merchiston Festival there is a huge amount of exciting school rugby being played this weekend around the country.

This weekend’s preview will focus on those other games around the country, with the St Joseph’s and Merchiston Festivals previewed elsewhere, you can check each of those out via the links below:

St Joseph’s Festival Preview

Merchiston Festival Preview

Ten to Watch

We begin, as ever, with our Ten to Watch. Ten fixtures that we will be keeping a particularly close eye on this weekend and on which you can vote for who you think will win. Last week’s were a real challenge to predict, with just 50% of the games predicted correctly, and this week’s ten look like a real challenge too.

Ampleforth College v Barnard Castle

Ampleforth College started the season with a real bang, winning four in a row, however a few injuries have since been picked up and from has slipped as they have lost their last three in a row, including in the Plate in midweek to Harrogate Grammar. Barnard Castle would have been a challenge already, but will feel even more of one now, but in many ways that will simply make Ampleforth even more determined – they know that at their best they are a really strong side. Barnard Castle are in good form, only Woodhouse Grove, on our live stream have beaten them and in midweek they enjoyed a fantastic victory over RGS Newcastle in the Schools Cup. They will be full of confidence and are brimming with quality, but Ampleforth College are going to be incredibly determined.

Who will win Ampleforth College v Barnard Castle?

Bradford Grammar v Durham

Bradford Grammar are looking for a game to spark their season into life as they are yet to record a victory, but there is a sense that at some point it will come. Durham will be a challenging side to earn it against, but Bradford will be going at them all guns blazing. Durham have quietly pieced together a good season, winning three of their four games and they will be feeling confident heading into this one after a strong victory against Ampleforth last time out – a side that beat Bradford Grammar by a similar margin to the result in that game. It should be a free-flowing game, both side like to play.

Who will win Bradford Grammar v Durham?

Bromsgrove v Sir Thomas Rich’s

An absolutely fascinating game, Sir Thomas Rich’s win/loss ratio doesn’t look good but, when you look at who they have played and how competitive the games have been, the truth is that this is a very strong schools rugby side that have kept some of the best in the country, the likes of Monmouth, Kirkham Grammar, and Clifton College, to incredibly close scorelines. Similarly Bromsgrove’s two defeats, to Stowe and Berkhamsted, have been against some of the very best sides around, and they arrive off the back of an impressive victory over Uppingham last time out. It all points towards a blockbuster game of rugby on Saturday afternoon.

Who will win Bromsgrove v Sir Thomas Rich's?

Clifton College v Hartpury College

An absolute blockbuster fixture on Friday evening as Clifton College, one of the strongest school sides in the country, take on Hartpury College, arguably the strongest ACE College in the country. It is a heavyweight clash between two unbeaten sides that ought to draw a huge crowd to the Alpas. Clifton have won five from five, including a truly impressive 27-0 defeat of Rugby School, one of the top teams in the country. Hartpury are five from five in the ACE league, they played on Wednesday and had their first close game of the season, but the sense is that that was with half an eye on Friday night having already secured qualification in the ACE League. It is one of the most asked questions in schools rugby, how good are schools and ACE colleges relative to one another, on Friday night, as two of the best go head to head, we may get a bit on an answer.

Who will win Clifton College v Hartpury College?

Epsom College v St John’s, Leatherhead

A cracking local derby for these two sides to sign off for the half term break. Epsom College have been utterly brilliant so far this season, they are unbeaten and last week won a tense game against fellow unbeaten side Hampton, 21-18, they are going to be determined to finish this first half of the season unbeaten. They will start as favourites, but a local derby is always a different beast and St John’s are going to be up for this in a big way, their season has been more mixed but victories over Felsted and RGS Guildford demonstrate the threat that they pose. It should be a really fun afternoon.

Who will win Epsom College v St John's, Leatherhead?

Harrow v Berkhamsted

One of the games of the weekend, these two are clearly incredibly strong sides. Harrow’s only defeat was in an epic contest against Whitgift, where a breakaway try gave them a 7-0 lead. That is one of just three tries that they have conceded all season, and this is going to be their first game at home, which ought to make them all the more competitive as they finally get to run out on their pristine surface in front of family and friends. In Berkhamsted though, they have a fierce challenger. They are unbeaten and in midweek knocked the sublime Radley College from the Cup with a superb 39-12 victory, in doing so conceding the only two scores they have all season. Travelling to Harrow will hold no fear for them and it is all set to be an absolute blockbuster game of school rugby.

Who will win Harrow v Berkhamsted?

Ipswich v New Hall

We have described Ipswich in many ways as the new kids on the block with their overhauled rugby programme, a refreshed and competitive fixture list, and a seriously good team. So good, in fact, that they are unbeaten and have taken some big scalps such as Felsted and Oundle, both away from home. On Saturday they face New Hall, who are coming off a brilliant series of performances at the Old Brentwood RFC Festival in midweek. In days past New Hall would have started as favourites, but this ‘new’ Ipswich will begin as favourites on Saturday. It remains of intrigue though, all Ipswich fixtures do currently, as people try to chart where they sit in the schools rugby pecking order. A Suffolk/Essex derby should teach us plenty.

Who will win Ipswich v New Hall?

Lancaster RGS v St Peter’s, York

A really fascinating game between two sides that have dropped a couple of games but that have done so against some of the very best teams around, the like of Sedbergh, Kirkham Grammar, and Barnard Castle. Overall it looks as though they should have a really close game on Saturday. Each sides looks pretty strong, and are the sort of sides that can cause plenty of problems to anyone – against each other that should make for an even and competitive game of rugby. Throw in the fact that this is Lancaster v York, Lancashire v Yorkshire, the red rose against the white, and it makes for a very special occasion, and hopefully a cracking game of rugby.

Who will win Lancaster RGS v St Peter's, York?

Skinners’ v Dartford Grammar 

Skinners’ are the find of October. After a slow start to the season they have won their last five games, including an impressive away win at Hurstpierpoint College and a stunning 7-0 away victory at Tonbridge, a side that are one of the best around. It has been an astonishing turnaround and a serious collection of scalps and the Kent side are going to be absolutely gunning to keep that momentum up on Saturday as they head into half term. This is a game that at the start of the season looked like it could be very close, now this incredible run suggests Skinners’ are strong favourites, but Dartford Grammar have had impressive results of their own and well revel in the thought of stopping the run.

Who will win Skinners' v Dartford Grammar?

Whitgift v Sedbergh

They do not come much bigger than this is school rugby, this is a fixture that will be noticed around the world. Originally scheduled as the season opener, it was cancelled due to covid but with Blackrock College unable to travel to Sedbergh on Saturday, it created a window to slot this fixture into, a thank goodness it has been. Whitgift have only lost to Wellington College this year, and their 7-0 victory over Harrow was a real mark of what they can do – very few sides this year are going to beat Harrow, but Whitgift played with their backs to the wall and got the job done. Sedbergh will pose a similar level of threat, their season has been disjointed due to cancellations but they arrive in Croydon unbeaten and having toppled some top sides in the form of Woodhouse Grove and Oakham particularly, this will be a step up again for them, their toughest challenge of the season to date. It is going to be a blockbuster game of rugby, two greats going head to head to finish off a top opening half term of school rugby.

Who will win Whitgift v Sedbergh?

Friday 15th October

As well as Clifton College v Hartpury College there are a number of other big games on Friday, not least a Gloucester derby as St Peter’s take on Pate’s Grammar, which should be a cracking game and attract a big crowd.

Down the road in Bath, KES Bath take on Beechen Cliff’s non-ACE players, while across the border in Wales London Oratory are on their half term tour and take on Llantwit Fadre RFC, which should be a brilliant occasion.

Monkton Combe are also on their travels, they head up to the north west to take on Stonyhurst College, a tough and exciting encounter, while Mount St Mary’s College’s 1st XV will be in action against Sedbergh’s 2nd XV. Meanwhile in London the impressive Halliford take on St James’.

Saturday 16th October

Alongside out Ten to Watch, Saturday features plenty of other excellent looking games, among them the trip of Gordon’s non-ACE side to Campion, one of the trickier away ties around.

London and its surrounds are fairly busy on Saturday, Wimbledon College host an in form Churcher’s College, while Wallington County Grammar welcome St Olave’s Grammar, and Isleworth & Syon head to Fulham Boys.

St Benedict’s v Aylesbury Grammar ought to be a fantastic game, both have had some really strong performances this season. Meanwhile Chislehurst & Sidcup, fresh from facing Whitgift, travel to The JuddBancroft’s welcome St Ignatius College, and St George’s Harpenden head to QES Barnet.

Cranleigh are at home to Gower Club, which should be an absolutely fantastic occasion, while in the Schools Bowl there is also action as Lord Wandsworth College welcome Ryde with Upper Chine. King’s Canterbury, meanwhile, host Sir Joseph Williamson’s and Maidstone Grammar welcome Cranbrook.

Over in the East of the country Coopers’ Coborn host Bishop’s Stortford High, and King’s Ely welcome St Edmund’s College, Ware. Cambridge sees one of the biggest games in the east though, a massive Cambridge derby between The Perse and The Leys, it ought to be an absolute cracker.

West along the M4 Pangbourne College and Reading Blue Coat go head to head, two sides that have impressed this year, while slightly further north Bloxham, impressive so far this year, head to Old Swinford Hospital. One of the game of the day in the Midlands though is Bishop Vesey’s Grammar v Bablake & King Henry VIII. Bishop Vesey’s have been good this year, but since Bablake and King Henry VIII merged, the combined side has looked absolutely brilliant and they have had some terrific results. Elsewhere, KES Camp Hill are in action against local club side Camp Hill RFC, which should make for an entertaining game.

Into the South West there are some good matchups, The Crypt v RGS Worcester being one, RGS have been so impressive this year, but The Crypt have more that held their own, too. Clifton College’s 2nd XV are hosting King’s College Taunton, remember their 1st XV are facing Hartpury on Friday night, so that should be a really decent game and King’s College will be determined to get on over on them. There is also 2nd XV action for Whitgift, they travel down to take on the Bishop Wordsworth’s 1st XV.

Also in Clifton, Clifton High take on Rendcomb, while elsewhere Downside host Dauntsey’s in what looks a really competitive game, QEH host Bristol Grammar, and Blundell’s make the trip to Kingswood. Meanwhile in Wales there is a fantastic looking game between two real institutions of Welsh school rugby as Christ College Brecon take on Llandovery College. Back in England, Canford are in action at home to Taunton School.

In the more northern reaches of the country the ever-impressive Wirral Grammar have a trip to St Ambrose College and will be looking to sign off for half term with another positive result. It’s an away trip for another of the Wirral’s finest, Calday Grange Grammar, they are at St Anselm’s College. Meanwhile Wilmslow High School host Bolton.

In Yorkshire Mount St Mary’s 2nd XV are in action against Ashville College’s 1sts, their 1st XV take on Sedbergh’s 2nds on Friday. Pocklington meanwhile travel north from Yorkshire to take on a Dame Allan’s side that have had some excellent performances this year.

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!

St Joseph’s Festival Preview

Merchiston Castle Festival Preview

Friday 15th October

Clifton College v Hartpury College

Halliford v St James’

KES Bath v Beechen Cliff 2nd XV

Llantwit Fardre RFC v London Oratory

Mount St Mary’s College v Sedbergh 2nd XV

St Peter’s Gloucester v Pate’s Grammar

Stonyhurst College v Monkton Combe

Saturday 16th October

Ampleforth College v Barnard Castle

Bancroft’s v St Ignatius College

Bishop Vesey’s Grammar v Bablake & King Henry VIII, Coventry

Bishop Wordsworth’s v Whitgift 2nd XV

Bradford Grammar v Durham

Bromsgrove v Sir Thomas Rich’s

Camp Hill RFC v KES Camp Hill

Campion v Gordon’s

Canford v Taunton

Christ College, Brecon v Llandovery College

Clifton College 2nd XV v King’s College, Taunton

Clifton High v Rendcomb

Coopers’ Coborn v Bishop’s Stortford High

Cranleigh v Gower Club

Dame Allan’s v Pocklington

Downside v Dauntsey’s

Epsom College v St John’s, Leatherhead

Fulham Boys v Isleworth & Syon

Harrow v Berkhamsted

Ipswich v New Hall

King’s Canterbury v Sir Joseph Williamson’s

King’s Ely v St Edmund’s College, Ware

Kingswood v Blundell’s

Lancaster RGS v St Peter’s, York

Lord Wandsworth College v Ryde with Upper Chine (Schools Bowl)

Maidstone Grammar v Cranbrook

Mount St Mary’s College 2nd XV v Ashville Harrogate

Old Swinford Hospital v Bloxham

Pangbourne College v Reading Blue Coat

QEH v Bristol Grammar

QES Barnet v St George’s, Harpenden

Skinners’ v Dartford Grammar

St Ambrose College v Wirral Grammar

St Anselm’s College v Calday Grange Grammar

St Benedict’s v Aylesbury Grammar

The Crypt v RGS Worcester

The Judd v Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar

The Perse v The Leys

Wallington County Grammar v St Olave’s Grammar

Whitgift v Sedbergh

Wilmslow High v Bolton

Wimbledon College v Churcher’s College

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