Schools Rugby: Weekend Preview – Massive weekend of rugby to kick-start second half of term!

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Coach Logic

After what has felt like a fairly length break for half term with little rugby to speak of, school rugby returns in a big way this weekend with a packed schedule and a whole host of absolutely fantastic games.

The first half of term was magnificent, with so much joy around at the mere fact that rugby was being played again, culminating in the celebratory scenes at the St Joseph’s and Merchiston Festivals as big multi-school events returned ahead of the break.

Among all the rightful joy at being back though, there was a huge amount of utterly brilliant rugby being played and, as we approach this second half of term, that is only going to increase as records and even silverware approach on the horizon.

There will be new challenges too, the cold and the rain – can those that excelled in what was, overall, a particularly dry and warm first half of term continue to excel in the these more autumnal and wintery months? Time will tell, but it is going to make for a brilliant six weeks or so of rugby.

Ten to Watch

As ever, we begin our preview with our Ten to Watch, ten fixtures that we will be keeping a particularly close eye on over the weekend. It was tough even just to pick out ten in this opening weekend of the second half of term though, so many brilliant looking fixtures are happening, however all games are covered later in the preview.

Barnard Castle v QEGS Wakefield

Two of the most storied names in all of School Rugby, Barnard Castle and QEGS Wakefield go head to head in a huge game on Saturday. For Barnard Castle it is simply a welcome return to action after their final two games before half term were called off, they had been building nicely too, winning three of their four games, their only loss being their 17-12 defeat to Woodhouse Grove on our live stream, which you can see below. For QEGS the games is going to be all about starting the second half of term on the right foot, they had a tricky first half of term and ended up 15th out of 16 at the St Joseph’s Festival but they will have pushed all of that an be intent on starting this second half of term afresh and with a bang, which could make for a fantastic game.

Who will win Barnard Castle v QEGS Wakefield?

Bedford v Warwick

Bedford looked truly impressive in the first half of term, the only blot on the copybook being a really tough outing against Rugby in week two. Since then they have been flying, enjoying a strong Cup run as well as a run to the final of the Merchiston Festival in the final weekend before the break. The likes of Dulwich College, Eton College, Uppingham, and Oundle have been defeated, but Warwick look likely to represent their toughest challenge since that defeat to Rugby. Warwick’s season has seen a mix of results, however their two defeats, to Stamford and to Denstone College, highlights of which you can see below, were against top sides. Bedford will also likely be of that calibre, so it should all add up to being a really good contest, a tough game for both sides and one where the victor will have had to put in a real shift in order to earn it. With big games to come for both, this will be a key starting point.

Who will win Bedford v Warwick?

Clifton College v Sherborne

Clifton College laid down a marker in their unbeaten first half of term that suggested they are one of the very best teams in the county, their 27-0 victory over Rugby looking particularly significant in that context. This second half of term is going to be where that theory gets tested, though, with the trips to Wellington College and Millfield looking particularly significant. All of which makes Saturday at home to Sherborne vital for them, a slip up here and all of that first half of the season momentum dissipates, and Sherborne are tough. Covid rather spoiled Sherborne’s first half of term, making it feel a little like they were a strong side playing catch up, but an ongoing Cup run demonstrates their quality. They will hopefully have seen that half term break as a chance to get that catch up done and they are going to come out on Saturday all guns blazing to prove their quality and take a big scalp in the process. It’s a game that could be absolutely vital for both.

Who will win Clifton College v Sherborne?

Denstone College v Sedbergh

Talking of schools that had Covid and various other things give them a weird start to the year, Sedbergh’s first half of term seemed to take an age to get going and yet by the time they went home for half term they were well established, as ever, as one of the very best sides in the land, unbeaten and signing off for the break with an utterly stunning 52-13 defeat to Whitgift. Now they roll in to a second half of term that will define exactly where they sit in that pecking order of the top teams, with fixtures against the likes of Warwick, Wellington College, Millfield, and, first up, Denstone College. Denstone have given themselves a really tough fixture list but despite that they have claimed the scalps of some top sides, especially Stamford and Warwick, highlights of which are above, and finished fourth at the St Joseph’s Festival. They pushed the likes of Woodhouse Grove and Kirkham Grammar hard, and will do so against Sedbergh too, who will have to be absolutely on their game in order to continue their unbeaten season.

Who will win Denstone College v Sedbergh?

Hartpury College Bulls v Millfield

Our Ten to Watch action begins on Friday evening when Millfield take on Hartpury College. It is the Hartpury College Bulls, in effect their non-ACE League side, but after two weeks without a game for the ACE side expect some crossover. The Hartpury College Bulls play a strong circuit that includes some of the strongest Welsh Colleges around. They also faced Clifton College before half term, losing 32-12, but this will be a stronger side than turned out against the outstanding Clifton. It will be a huge test for Millfield, but victory would be an incredible way for them to start the second half of term, after an unbeaten first half of term that culminated in their brilliant St Joseph’s Festival title. In this second half of term they have the chance to cement themselves as the top side on the circuit this year, there are some tough games to come but victory on Saturday would help sustain that irresistible momentum.

Who will win Hartpury College v Millfield?

Marlborough College v Monmouth

We have been wanting to get a Monmouth game in the Ten to Watch for a while, they have looked magnificent so far this season, unbeaten through the first half of term and with the likes of Cheltenham College and Sir Thomas Rich’s among the scalps they claimed. Life is going to get tougher in the second half of term, with games against Christ College and Millfield looking especially big, so too a Cup tie against Bromsgrove, but it all starts away at Marlborough College on Saturday. Marlborough are an intriguing side, and Saturday is going to tell us a lot about them. September was tough but in October they changed gear entirely, running the outstanding Rugby School close, putting in a devastating performance to beat Teddies Oxford, and then knocking Bishop Wordsworth’s out of the Plate. That sends them into the second half of this season with both confidence and momentum, and they will be absolutely flying into Saturday’s game against Monmouth ahead of big clashes versus Sherborne and Clifton College to come.

Who will win Marlborough College v Monmouth?

RGS Newcastle v Kirkham Grammar

A big game between two huge names, both of whom were last in action at the St Joseph’s Festival, where Kirkham Grammar School won the Plate to finish fifth overall, and RGS Newcastle reached the Shield final to finish up in tenth overall. That probably gives a fair reflection of where the odds would sit in this one, with Kirkham Grammar School unbeaten so far this season, their St Joseph’s defeat to Denstone being the only blemish, while RGS have had a mixed bag with a few cancellations, three victories, and two defeats – albeit to outstanding teams in the form of Woodhouse Grove and Barnard Castle. Kirkham will be RGS’ biggest test yet, but RGS are a huge test for Kirkham too and this game will give us a great indication of where both teams are at as we head into the second half of the season, a half of the season where Kirkham, in particular, will be keen to prove that they are one of the very best. 

Who will win RGS Newcastle v Kirkham Grammar?

Seaford College v Hampton

This should be an absolutely brilliant game of rugby. Seaford College are flying at the moment, only the exceptional Wellington College have beaten them and they rounded off that superb first half of term by winning the Merchiston Festival at the final weekend. Hampton are going to be their toughest test since that Wellington College game though, they have also lost just once, by a mere three points to the unbeaten Epsom College, and finished up in sixth place at one of the most competitive St Joseph’s Festivals in recent memory – winning a penalty shoot-out en route. With plenty of back-story behind the fixture too, emotions will likely run high and it should all add to what ought to be a fantastic occasion. Not only that, but with some huge fixtures to come for both, it is also a key game to set their stalls out for the remaining six weeks, which will likely define how these two groups are remembered to outsiders.

Who will win Seaford College v Hampton?

St Paul’s v Tonbridge

Tonbridge should be viewed as a very very good side, their 32-7 victory at Radley College demonstrated as much in their final game before the half term break. The only blot of their copybook was a shock 5-0 defeat to Skinners’, but it was a game played out in abnormal and atrocious conditions. This second half of term is where their season will really be defined though, with Harrow, Dulwich College, Radlley College (again), and Wellington College to come – positive results there will show just how good they are. It all begins on Saturday at St Paul’s, who are a big of an enigma. Undoubtedly a good side but one whose win/loss column does not necessarily reflect that, with two victories and four defeats. However only Harrow have comfortably beaten them, against Radley, Hampton, and especially Epsom, they where incredibly competitive and will expect to be so again against Tonbridge. So expect a close game, one which genuinely could go either way.

Who will win St Paul's v Tonbridge?

Stamford v Rugby

These are two seriously strong sides, be in no doubt about that, and is arguably one of the most exciting games of the whole weekend. An injury hit start to the season got Stamford off to a slow start but as they moved in towards half term their quality started to show, putting 50 past Solihull, winning a close derby at Uppingham and then putting forty past Warwick to send them into half term absolutely bursting with confidence. Rugby season has been incredibly strong perhaps never shown better than at home to a strong Bedford side, against whom they scored an incredible 59 points. Only the outstanding Clifton College have beaten Rugby, and among Rugby’s scalps are the superb Stowe, but Stamford will be their toughest test since the start of October. It ought to be a fantastic tussle, a game that could go either way and that for the victorious side will represent a real statement to the watching schools rugby world.

Who will win Stamford v Rugby?

Friday 5th November

As well as Hartpury College v Millfield, there are three other big games on Friday, not least a derby in Gloucestershire as former Schools Cup champions St Peter’s Gloucester take on The Crypt, who had some impressive performances prior to half term.

There is a huge derby in Herefordshire as Hereford Cathedral School take on Hereford 6th form College at Hereford Rugby Club. It will be a massive game as these two local rivals go head to head in a game that has seen some wonderful build up on social media. It feels as though it is a game that could genuinely go either way, but that more importantly will be a special occasion for the players, the schools, and all of their families.

In Hertfordshire there is a bit of a derby too as St George’s Harpenden, who have seen the likes of Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje in their ranks before, take on St Columba’s College in a game that should prove compelling. Another strong Hertfordshire side, St Albans, who had some absolutely outstanding results prior to half term, including a defeat of Haileybury, take on Finborough who this year are pushing their boundaries far from their Stowmarket base in Suffolk and are doing impressively well.

Saturday 6th November

Finborough are a side that will be on the minds of two sides in a massive game on Saturday, in Norfolk Gresham’s host Norwich in the Schools Plate, and the winner of this Midlands B tie will be hosting Finborough in the regional semi finals. Campion booked their place in the final of that section in midweek, so will be keeping a keen eye on proceedings while they take on The Judd on Saturday.

Elsewhere in Norfolk, Langley host St Joseph’s College, who will be keen to put on a good display after such a thrilling Festival before half term, it should be a cracking game. Indeed East Anglia is host to some great games this weekend, Felsted travel up to the Framlingham College, who seem to have one of their best sides for some time, while The Perse head over to New Hall.

Royal Hospital School had a superb first half of term and look as though they were putting in the hard yards during half term too, they will be hoping to keep building as they host The Leys on Saturday, meanwhile Wisbech Grammar host a Wellingborough side that looked really strong before the break, while Wymondham College host RGS Colchester.

North London and Hertfordshire have some great games this weekend, one of which comes in the Schools Vase as Mill Hill host Shiplake College in the London & South East A third round. Elsewhere, QES Barnet take on St Albans’ 2nd XV, while Watford Grammar are in action at Haberdsashers’ and Bishop’s Stortford High travel to Richard Hale. One of the biggest games of the day in the area though will see Haileybury host Reed’s, two sides that had their ups and downs before half term but that are each capable of some storming performances.

One of the biggest games of the day takes place in North London as Harrow welcome Northampton School for Boys. Harrow started the season with a bang and look like one of the very best in the business at the moment, only losing 7-0 to Whitgift against the run of play an impressively drawing with a brilliant Berkhamsted side despite injuries. Northampton School for Boys will be a test, they have a packed fixture list against top school and have competed hard against most. However a tough result at Ipswich in their last game before half term will have stung and they will be determined to bounce back, however Harrow are going to be absolutely flying into this one too, determined to show their undoubted quality.

Elsewhere big names are in action across London perhaps nowhere more so than in Croydon where there are two huge games. John Fisher welcome Dulwich College for what ought to be a cracking game, Dulwich really stepped up at the St Joseph’s Festival, while Fisher are going to be itching to get back to it after a whole month since their last game. That last game was a derby defeat to Whitgift, who on Saturday having had that really tough loss to Sedbergh in the last game before half term, and are going to be formidable for RGS High Wycombe. While that was going on, RGS reignited their season at the St Joseph’s Festival, they arrived without a win to their name but left as Shield champions, they will be eager to build on that, starting on Saturday. Meanwhile on Saturday UCS host Windsor Boys while St Ignatius College welcome Cardinal Vaughan and Gunnersbury head to Latymer Upper. 

Staying in and around London, City of London Freemen’s host Emanuel and London Oratory welcome Glyn for what ought to be a good game. While Wimbledon College will look to get this second half off to a good start when they host Dartford Grammar.

Elsewhere, Eltham College travel to Ravens Wood, that should be a strong contest, and Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar welcome Maidstone Grammar, Gravesend Grammar meanwhile welcome Cranbrook and Brentwood travel in to take on Langley Park, whose 2nd XV head to Cedars’ to take on their 1st XV. Wallington County Grammar meanwhile take on St Dunstan’s College.

Across the South East from Kent out to Surrey there are some huge games, Brighton College are fresh from reaching the St Joseph’s Festival Final, and how well they played along the way too, they start this second half of term with an away trip to Eastbourne College. Sevenoaks. Are hosting Reigate Grammar School, whith Sutton Valence looking to once again show their quality at home to Churcher’s CollegeChrist’s Hospital are meanwhile at Duke of York’s Royal Military.

Cranleigh travel to RGS Guildford, Cranleigh are a tricky side to get a read on at the moment, their fixture list is slightly thinner than it once was but the signs are that they are a very strong unit, however RGS have had some strong results and ought to prove a tough opponent. Meanwhile Caterham travel to Worth for a game that looks as though it should be a close contest. Cobham International School meanwhile have a tricky visitor in the form of Halliford.

Along the South Coast, Portsmouth Grammar welcome Gordon’s, while in the South West there are some great fixtures, including some multi-team events. The biggest of those is the Jonny Wilkinson Cup at Rendcomb College, where Ewell Castle, St Edward’s Cheltenham, Mount Kelly, Milton Abbey, and Shebbear College will be the visiting teams. Meanwhile Christ College Brecon are hosting a triangular, with King’s Gloucester and Malvern College crossing the border to compete.

One of the biggest games of the day in the South West sees Cheltenham College make the trip to Blundell’s. Results so far this season suggest a good game, and both will be extremely keen to make sure that they get this second half of the season off to a good start. Meanwhile KES Bath hosts QEH and Monkton Combe are heading to King’s BrutonDownside are off to Prior Park College and Taunton School take on Millfield’s 2nd XV.

Another to keep an eye on is King’s Worcester’s trip to Bristol Grammar, King’s Worcester competed well in a tough group at the St Joseph’s Festival and have plenty of strong support as they head for a tricky test at Bristol Grammar. Canford v Bryanston should be another good game, two sides that play good rugby and have produced some wonderful sides down the years. Bishop Wordsworth’s head to Dauntsey’s, another game that ought to be a good one, while the impressive Colston’s are off to Wellington School, having progressed in the Schools Plate at home to Taunton in midweek.

Into the West Midlands and there are some top games, KES Stratford host Pate’s Grammar and Old Swinford Hospital welcome KES Birmingham, but arguably the key game is going to be RGS Worcester, so impressive prior to half term, welcoming Solihull.

Oxford is home to some absolute crackers this weekend. One of the most compelling will be Radley College v Uppingham. Radley began the season with a bang but defeats to Tonbridge and Berkhamsted in their last two games before the break leave them searching for momentum against an Uppingham side with plenty of promise, who performed well at the Merchiston Festival prior to half term, too. Also in Oxford is another beast of a game as Abingdon host Eton College, both had good results and less good results before the break and both will be keen to get off to a flyer again now, they should be fairly well matched, which should add up to a great game. Meanwhile, Magdalen College are also at home in Oxford, they welcome Merchant Taylors’ for what should be a great occasion.

Another of Oxford’s big schools, St Edwards’s, have the tricky task of a trip to Stowe on Saturday. Stowe have been magnificent all year, only against Rugby have they been bettered and that was a classic, they will be determined to keep pushing on through the rest of the season. Over in Reading, Reading Blue Coat take on The Oratory, expect a really good encounter there, while back in Northamptonshire Oakham head to Oundle, Oakham had some fantastic result before half term in what was a fairly disrupted half term of rugby, and they will be keen to build on that against an Oundle side that started slow but began to build really nicely and will be keen to continue to do so.

Leicestershire sees a big derby between Ratcliffe College and Princethorpe College, a game that feels as though it could go either way, while Loughborough Grammar are heading over to Nottingham High School for another fixture that should be a pretty even contest. Worksop College meanwhile host Trent College in a huge Nottinghamshire clash.

Moving from the Midlands and towards the North West, Rydal Penrhos cross over from Wales to take on Ellesmere College. One of the key games in the area will be St Ambrose College v Lymm High, Lymm beak King’s Macclesfield in midweek while St Ambrose went down to Wirral Grammar on Wednesday. Both of those sides are in action too, Wirral Grammar hosting Manchester Grammar, that should be a cracking game, and King’s Macclesfield hosting Cheadle Hulme, who faced Fallibroome in midweek.

Lancaster RGS host Merchant Taylors’ Crosby on Saturday, while their 2nd XV host Scarisbrick Hall, meanwhile Birkenhead head to AKS Lytham and St Anselm’s College head to Altrincham Grammar, while Wilmslow High School make the trip to The Grange.

Over in Yorkshire this are busy too, not least a great Bradford/Leeds derby as Woodhouse Grove host Grammar School at Leeds. Woodhouse Grove are looking formidable so far this season. Stonyhurst College make the trip along the M62 to head to Ampleforth College, a classic clash between two of the biggest two schools of their type in the country.

Elsewhere, Bradford Grammar look to build on a momentum building first win of the season before half term as they welcome Giggleswick, while Hymers College host Pocklington for a good looking fixture.

Scotland also has some cracking games this weekend, and with Scotland not facing Australia until Sunday, it’s the perfect schools rugby weekend north of the border. Merchiston Castle make the short trip to Edinburgh Academy, while George Watson’s are at home against Strathallan, Waston’s 2nd XV, meanwhile, are heading for a tricky game at Loretto.

Stewart’s Melville have beaten both Merchiston and George Watson’s this year and they have a big game away at George Heriot’s on Saturday. Elsewhere Fettes College travel to take on Dollar Academy and Morrison’s Academy host St Leonard’s. Meanwhile Dundee High School host Bell Baxter and Queen Victoria welcome Glenalmond College.

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 admin@nextgenxv.com and if you are interested in us live streaming one of your games or an event then please do get in touch!

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Friday 5th November

Finborough v St Albans

Hartpury College v Millfield

Hereford Cathedral Sch v Hereford 6th form Coll

St Columba’s College v St George’s, Harpenden

St Peter’s, Gloucester v The Crypt

Saturday 6th November

Abingdon v Eton College

AKS Lytham v Birkenhead

Altrincham Grammar v St Anselm’s College

Ampleforth College v Stonyhurst College

Barnard Castle v QEGS Wakefield

Bedford v Warwick

Blundell’s v Cheltenham College

Bradford Grammar v Giggleswick

Bristol Grammar v King’s Worcester

Campion v The Judd

Canford v Bryanston

Cedars v Langley Park 2nd XV

Chislehurst & Sidcup v Maidstone Grammar

Christ College Triangular: Christ College, King’s Gloucester, Malvern College

City of London Freemen’s v Emanuel

Clifton College v Sherborne

Cobham International v Halliford

Dauntsey’s v Bishop Wordsworth’s

Denstone College v Sedbergh

Dollar Academy v Fettes College

Duke of York’s Royal Military v Christ’s Hospital

Dundee High v Bell Baxter High

Eastbourne College v Brighton College

Edinburgh Academy v Merchiston Castle

Ellesmere College v Rydal Penrhos

Framlingham College v Felsted

George Heriot’s v Stewart’s Melville

George Watson’s College v Strathallan

Gravesend Grammar v Cranbrook

Gresham’s v Norwich (Schools Plate) – Midlands B R1

Haberdashers’ v Watford Grammar

Haileybury v Reed’s

Harrow v Northampton School for Boys

Hymers College v Pocklington

John Fisher v Dulwich College

Jonny Wilkinson Cup: Rendcomb College, Ewell Castle, St Edward’s Cheltenham, Mount Kelly, Milton Abbey, Shebbear College

KES Bath v QEH

KES Stratford v Pate’s Grammar

King’s Bruton v Monkton Combe

King’s Macclesfield v Cheadle Hulme

Lancaster RGS v Merchant Taylors’, Crosby

Lancaster RGS 2nd XV v Scarisbrick Hall

Langley Park v Brentwood

Langley v St Joseph’s College

Latymer Upper v Gunnersbury

London Oratory v Glyn

Loretto v George Watson’s 2nd XV

Magdalen College v Merchant Taylors’, Northwood

Marlborough College v Monmouth

Mill Hill v Shiplake College (Schools Vase) – LSE A QF

Morrison’s Academy v St Leonard’s

New Hall v The Perse

Nottingham High v Loughborough Grammar

Old Swinford Hospital v KES Birmingham

Oundle v Oakham

Portsmouth Grammar v Gordon’s

Prior Park College v Downside

QES, Barnet v St Albans 2nd XV

Queen Victoria v Glenalmond College

Radley College v Uppingham

Ratcliffe College v Princethorpe College

Ravens Wood v Eltham College

Reading Blue Coat v The Oratory

RGS Guildford v Cranleigh

RGS Newcastle v Kirkham Grammar

RGS Worcester v Solihull

Richard Hale v Bishop Stortford’s High

Royal Hospital School v The Leys

Seaford College v Hampton

Sevenoaks v Reigate Grammar

St Ambrose College v Lymm High

St Ignatius College v Cardinal Vaughan

St Paul’s v Tonbridge

Stamford v Rugby

Stowe v St Edward’s, Oxford

Sutton Valence v Churcher’s College

Taunton v Millfield 2nd XV

The Grange v Wilmslow High

UCS v Windsor Boys

Wallington County Grammar v St Dunstan’s College

Wellington School v Colston’s

Whitgift v RGS High Wycombe

Wimbledon College v Dartford Grammar

Wirral Grammar v Manchester Grammar

Wisbech Grammar v Wellingborough

Woodhouse Grove v Grammar School at Leeds

Worksop College v Trent College

Worth v Caterham

Wymondham College v RGS Colchester

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