St Joseph’s Festival: Group by Group & Team by Team Guide, plus vote for your winners

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Coach Logic

Ahead of the 2021 St Joseph’s Festival this weekend, we take a look at each of sixteen teams from the four groups, predict who might progress to the De La Salle Trophy, and give you the chance to pick your 2021 St Joseph’s Festival winner.

We have an in depth preview that looks at the overall picture of the weekend here, St Joseph’s Festival Preview, which is worth reading through as there are some big changes to the Festival this year.

As well as full coverage on our website and social media, NextGenXV will also be live streaming the whole weekend and also hosting a live show after the close of play on Saturday to unpick the day’s action and look ahead to Sunday’s knockout stages.

Pitch 1 Live Stream (Day 1)

Pitch 2 Live Stream (Day 1)

Group by Group Guide

The sixteen teams are split into four groups of four, with the top two from each at the end of Saturday progressing to the De La Salle Trophy quarter finals. The bottom two from each will, meanwhile, head to the Bowl quarter finals. Those losing in the quarter finals will head to the semi finals of the Plate and Shield respectively.

So who are the form horses, who looks likely to make the De La Salle Trophy Quarter Finals, and who could be dark horses?

Group 1: Wellington College, Denstone College, QEGS Wakefield, RGS High Wycombe

A really tasty group with which to kick things off, containing three former champions in Wellington College, QEGS Wakefield, and RGS High Wycombe, Wellington College being in effect the reigning champions, having won in 2019, and a really strong side in the shape of Denstone College. A really tricky group to call.

Wellington College

Form this year – P5 W4 L1

Wellington College have been flying this year, sensational in their opening four games and sensational again last weekend in a narrow defeat to Millfield that ranks as the best game that we have seen so far this year. They are the reigning champions, albeit very few of those players are back this year due to 2020 being lost to the pandemic, and that means something – there is a bit of pride at stake. Reigning champions or not though, it simply does not matter. This group are among the favourites and it is going to take a very special side to stop them, as Northampton School for Boys, Whitgift, Seaford College, Dulwich College, and indeed Millfield, can attest to.

Tournament Record – Champions 2019, Runners up 1992

2019 – Champions

Denstone College

Form this year – P6 W3 L3

Anyone that saw our live stream of Denstone College’s trip to Warwick earlier in the season will know what damage they can do. They won that game and have also defeated Stamford and Solihull, and though they have lost three they have been against top opposition in Northampton School for Boys, Kirkham Grammar, and Woodhouse Grove, and two of those three could have gone either way. They are a really tough nut to crack and will have serious designs on a deep run here in Suffolk.

Tournament Record: Plate Winners 2015

2019 – Trophy Groups, 4th in Group

QEGS Wakefield

Form this year – P4 W2 L2

A quiet year for QEGS so far without too many fixtures, but QEGS are a rugby institution and will be geared up for this as they always are. Always competitive and always a side that builds through this Festival, they have already enjoyed good victories this season over King’s Macclesfield and Grammar School at Leeds, while defeat to St Peter’s York and Woodhouse Grove are not to be sniffed at – they are a strong sides. QEGS will push hard for a place in the top two in this group.

Tournament Record – Champions 1997, Runners up 1996, Plate Winners 2017, Plate Runners up 2015, 2014, 2006, 2002.

2019 – Plate Groups, 3rd in Group

RGS High Wycombe

Form this year – P5 W0 L5

In many way a southern QEGS Wakefield, or are QEGS a northern RGS. Take your pick, either way the point is that whether on a good season or a less good season, RGS are so hard to beat and always seem to come alive in tournament play. Yes, they have not won yet this season but they always seem to perform at an exceptionally high level. They are playing some good stuff too, as we saw on our live stream of their game against Seaford College, and have played two sides that could be competing at the sharp end this weekend, Brighton College and Hampton. Never write them off.

Tournament Record – Champions 1999, Runners up 2015, 2013, 1998, Plate Winners 2012, 2010, 1997, 1988, 1987, Plate Runners Up 2019

2019 – Plate Runners Up

Our prediction on the De La Salle Trophy quarter finalists from Group 1: Wellington College and Denstone College

Who will reach the Trophy from Group 1?

Group 2: Kirkham Grammar, Dulwich College, Whitchurch High, Eltham College

An interesting group, Kirkham Grammar are the standout side but it looks absolutely wide open beyond that. Dulwich College have incredibly history at the Festival, while Whitchurch High are coming off their best ever Festival finish and Eltham College will be eager to achieve their best ever result at the Festival.

Kirkham Grammar

Form this year – P8 W8 L0

Kirkham Grammar School reached the final at their first attempt back in 2019 and they have every chance of doing the same or better this year, such is their quality. They are one of the favourites for the Festival as their seven wins from seven record so far would suggest. In the likes of Sir Thomas Rich’s, Northampton School for Boys, and fellow Festival-goers Denstone College, they have faced quality too, but this weekend will be a step up in intensity overall and that will likely be the challenge that faces them, after eight wins from eight, the busiest season of any side, they certainly have plenty of game time under their belts.

Tournament Record – Runners up 2019

2019 – Runners Up

Dulwich College

Form this year – P5 W1 L4

The 2011 champions, Dulwich College have long been a tough side to beat both in and out of the Festival, and though their results this year suggest they might be struggling, recent performances suggest that this is a side that have a lot more potential than their results might show. In awful conditions a fortnight ago they gave Wellington College a really good game, and on Saturday there was only a score’s difference between them and a Bedford side that have had some storming results. They will fancy being able to get themselves into the Trophy from this group, it won’t be easy, but if they can do it then in knockout rugby it’s anyone’s game.

Tournament Record – Champions 2011, Runners up 2006, 2005, 2004

2019 – Plate Groups, 3rd in Group

Whitchurch High School

Form this year – P6 W0 L6

It has been a tough year for Whitchurch High School in the Welsh Schools and Colleges league, but with the likes of Coleg y Cymoedd, Cardiff & Vale College, and Ysgol Glantaf in their section, it was always going to be a tricky one. Best not to think too much about results and more about the quality of opposition they have faced and what that could mean about their battle-hardness coming into this. They have happy memories from the 2019 Festival where they reached the Trophy groups for the first time and were only denied a spot in the final by a single-point defeat to Kirkham Grammar. They will fancy their chances of progressing to the quarter finals from this groups this year especially after their best performance of the season so far on Wednesday, plus the news that recent leaver and former star at the Festival, Christ Tshiunza, is in the Wales squad.

Tournament Record – Debut in 2015, Trophy Groups 2019

2019 – Trophy Groups, 2nd in Group

Eltham College

P7 W3 D1 L3

Beyond Kirkham, Eltham College have the best record so far this season in this group. The standard of opposition might not be the same level as Dulwich or Whitchurch, but the confidence gained from some good victories and competitive draws and losses should be huge for them. They have had a great track record in the Plate competition in the past, but this is an opportunity for them to really push for a place in the Trophy quarter finals. A good early result could see them gain the necessary momentum to make that push.

Tournament Record – Plate Runners up 2018, 2017, 1989, 1987

2019 – Plate Groups, 4th in Group

Our prediction on the De La Salle Trophy quarter finalists from Group 2: Kirkham Grammar and Dulwich College

Who will reach the Trophy from Group 2?

Group 3: RGS Newcastle, Hampton, Hurstpierpoint College, Cheltenham College

A brute of a group, featuring two former champions in the form of RGS Newcastle and Hampton, a side looking to kick on with their best Festival performance, Hurstpierpoint College, and a newcomer to the tournament that could make a real challenge at the top end, Cheltenham College. This will be a tough group, and for whichever sides emerge in the Trophy after it, how they conserved energy will likely be crucial.

RGS Newcastle

Form this year – P5 W3 L2

Despite a couple of fixture cancellations, RGS Newcastle have managed to play a fair bit of rugby so far this year and they have looked good in doing so, and defeats have come to top sides such as Barnard Castle in midweek. Their triumph here in 2018 came as a shock in some ways after a long run as a ‘plate side’, but they backed it up with a really strong performance in 2019 too, with skipper Phil Brantingham being named player of the tournament. Now there is almost an air of expectation of them, as we head into 2021, that they will make the Trophy fixtures on Day 2. It will not be easy though, this is a fiercely competitive group and all sides are going to have to be at their best to make it through.

Tournament Record – Champions 2018, Plate Runners up 2013

2019 – Trophy Groups, 2nd in Group

Hampton

Form this year – P6 W5 L1

Hampton are looking good this year, they won their first four in a row, including three victories against fellow Festival sides, Brighton College, RGS High Wycombe, and fellow Group 3 side Hurstpierpoint College, as well as knocking out in form KCS Wimbledon in the Cup. They lost that unbeaten record on Saturday, but in a thrilling and close contest against another top side in the form of Epsom College and they bounced right back on Wednesday with a great victory over St Paul’s in the Cup. Their quality alone makes them a real threat in this Festival, but add in the fact that they have positive memories from games against three of the other competitors, including one in their own group, and Hampton will surely feel that they arrive in Suffolk with a strong chance.

Tournament Record – Champions 2015, Plate Winners 2018 & 2016

2019 – Trophy Groups, 3rd in Group

Hurstpierpoint College

Form this year – P5 W1 L4

Hurstpierpoint College have had a topsy turvy old year and are actually quite tricky to predict coming into the Festival. Victory over St John’s Leatherhead was excellent, while a tough defeat to Harrow is something that many sides will suffer this year, similarly defeat to Hampton although hopefully there are no scars from that with these two in the same group. Even defeat to Skinners’ must be taken in the context that they had beaten Tonbridge a week prior, so it is just a defeat to Reed’s that leaves you wondering. The sense is, this is a stronger side that results suggest and one that can cause problems and will be making a big play to reach the Trophy quarter finals.

Tournament Record – Debut 2017, Trophy Groups 2018

2019 – Plate Groups, 2nd in Group

Cheltenham College

Form this year – P3 W1 L2

It’s a debut for Cheltenham College at the St Joseph’s Festival, a year later than planned but you can be sure that they will be absolutely buzzing at the prospect. They have been a really top side in the last few years under the guidance of former England full back Olly Morgan and they will certainly present a strong challenge at this year’s Festival. It has been a quiet season for them so far, playing just three games. Defeats came against Clifton College and Monmouth, two unbeaten sides that are looking like some of the best around, while they enjoyed victory over Marlborough College. So few games makes them a tricky side to make predictions about, but the expectation is that they will be a threat and will challenge hard for a spot in the Trophy quarter finals. They could well be dark horses.

Tournament Record – Debut Season

2019 – N/A

Our prediction on the De La Salle Trophy quarter finalists from Group 3: Hampton & Cheltenham College

Who will reach the Trophy from Group 3?

Group 4: Millfield, Brighton College, St Joseph’s College, King’s Worcester

Quite possibly the group of death, featuring the tournament’s most successful side, Millfield, former champions Brighton College, a competitive newcomer in the shape of King’s Worcester, and the hosts and former champions St Joseph’s College. It is a high quality group and hard to predict, as any group that contains the hosts always is, such is the strength of passion and emotion that they carry coming into this Festival – particularly after a year without.

Millfield

Form this year – P4 W4 L0

Millfield are flying this year, big wins over Blundell’s and Coleg Sir Gar were followed by a good victory at Sherborne in testing conditions. The icing on the cake so far though was Saturday’s 26-20 victory over Wellington College, a game about which we said the winner would be favourites at the Festival, and Millfield hold that position with Wellington a very very close second. It was an exceptionally high level of rugby and if they play like that this weekend it will take something incredibly special to stop them. However even getting out of this group is going to require them to be at their absolute best, such is the quality within it. Either way, they are a side not to be missed and they are going to be determined to show they very best of themselves after ‘only’ winning the Plate in 2019.

Tournament Record – Champions 2014, 2012, 2006, 2004, 1993, 1990, Runners up 2018, 2017, 2008, 2007, 2000, 1994, Plate Winners 2019, Plate Runners up 1995

2019 – Plate Champions

Brighton College

Form this year – P5 W3 L2

The season started in tricky fashion for the 2017 Champions with back to back defeats to Cranleigh and Hampton, to great foes of their from Festivals past, but they have since gone on to three dominant victories in a row against Dulwich College, Trinity, and RGS High Wycombe, two of which are also at the Festival. As so often, they appear to be peaking perfectly for the Festival and you can be certain that they are going to be a real threat. They could go all the way, but before any thoughts of that, the first thoughts are going to have to be about getting out of this group because it is an absolute beast.

Tournament Record – Champions 2017, Runners up 2016, Plate Winners 2014, 2001

2019 – Trophy Groups, 4th in Group

St Joseph’s College

Form this year – P3 W3 L0

In all honesty, form is largely irrelevant when it comes to the Festival for St Joseph’s. The Festival is the key point in their rugby calendar, perhaps even the school calendar, the whole school, including parents and past pupils, has a buzz about it for the Festival. The emotion of the whole event is palpable at that comes first and foremost from the players. Ultimately it comes down to how they handle that emotion because the quality is there as three wins from three shows, albeit not against the same consistent quality of opposition that they will face this weekend. If they start well, watch their confidence grow with it and the crowds swell alongside, it is one of the most extraordinary sights in school rugby. They have a chance of making the Trophy quarter finals, but they are going to have to be on it right from the word go.

Tournament Record – Champions 2013, 2010, 1995, Runners up 2014, Plate Winners 2003, Plate Runners up 2016, 2005, 1993.

2019 – Trophy Groups, 3rd in Group

King’s Worcester

Form this year – P5 W4 L1

It is a Festival debut for King’s Worcester and you can be absolutely certain that they will want to put on a display that really showcases what a strong side they are. They had some brilliant sides in the early/mid period of the last decade and they look like they have another now, having started the season in brilliant form, winning four of five games against strong opposition, their only defeat coming in a mad Cup game against Bromsgrove, which ended 34-35. They could not have a more challenging group in their Festival debut, but that is almost certainly exactly why they entered – for this type of challenge. Performances so far this season suggest that they will more than compete, and given that this group is likely to see sides all taking points off each other, there is every chance that they could make it to the Trophy quarter finals by the end of Saturday’s play.

Tournament Record – Festival Debut

2019 – N/A

Our prediction on the De La Salle Trophy quarter finalists from Group 4: Millfield & Brighton College

Who will reach the Trophy from Group 4?

That’s our group by group breakdown, and you’ve seen who we think will make the Trophy quarter finals, and voted for who you think will too, but now it’s time to make the big prediction, who will win the 2021 St Joseph’s Festival?

Who will win the 2021 St Joseph's Festival?
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