School Rugby: Weekend Preview – Major heads to heads coming up!

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Coach Logic

This weekend sees some of the most in-form teams in the country go head to head in a weekend that could prove a defining one in the school rugby season.

After an epic return to action last week following on form the half term break, and a brilliant midweek of Schools Cup play, this weekend looks set to be an even bigger step up.

It’s a return to live streams too, we bring you Merchant Taylors’ v Reading Blue Coat on Friday night, the first of a series of live streams throughout the rest of November.

Ten to Watch

Epsom College v Cranleigh

A huge game between two incredibly strong teams, both have only lost once this season, Epsom College last week losing their unbeaten season to a very strong Trinity School performance, about which you can read here: Trinity v Epsom College. Cranleigh meanwhile have only lost out to a very good KCS Wimbledon side and have narrowly beaten both Brighton College and Trinity. That might suggest a slight edge for Cranleigh, but in reality everything about this fixture says that it should be incredibly close an could genuinely go either way.

Who will win Epsom College v Cranleigh?

Hampton v Trinity

Trinity, as mentioned, are having a stunning season, including that defeat of Epsom College in midweek. Indeed only Cranleigh and Brighton College have got the better of them, and having beaten KCS Wimbledon as well as Epsom in this opening two games since the break, they are going to be feeling full of confidence. They head to a very good Hampton side though, one of the best sides they have faced this season. Only Epsom beat them before half term, and though they lost to Seaford College last week, they bounced back in midweek to defeat Dulwich College in the Cup. Like the game above, everything suggests that this should be an absolutely brilliant game that will absolutely hang right in the balance throughout.

Who will win Hampton v Trinity?

Merchant Taylors’ v Reading Blue Coat

Our live stream game, which kicks off our Ten to Watch on Friday night under the lights at Merchant Taylors’ at 7pm. Both Merchant Taylors’ and Reading Blue Coat have been superb so far this season, Merchant Taylors’ enjoying a good win at Magdalen College last week while in midweek Reading Blue Coat confirmed their place in their Schools Vase regional final after a defeat of Dauntsey’s. It should be a fantastic game and you can see our preview of it, and a look back at the whole of Merchant Taylors’ ‘Rugby Week’ here: Merchant Taylors’ v Reading Blue Coat.

Who will win Merchant Taylors' v Reading Blue Coat?

Oakham v Bedford

Another belter of a game, both sides have played some tremendous rugby this year. Oakham’s season has been heavily disrupted by cancellations and postponements and yet despite that they have run two of the strongest sides around incredibly close, Rugby and Sedbergh. Last week they had a strong win over old rivals Oundle, and will be looking at Saturday afternoon with a real sense of positive anticipation. So too will Bedford though, only Rugby School have beaten them in the full format of the game this year and they were straight back at it in this first week after half term with a dogged victory over Warwick, having reached the Merchiston Festival final leading into half term. It bodes well for a similar sort of game on Saturday.

Who will win Oakham v Bedford?

Radley College v Abingdon

A massive derby, these two are a mere stone’s throw away from one another and that all adds to the sense of atmosphere and occasion whenever they meet. Radley’s bigside pitch will play host this year and it’s a Radley side that will be eager to lay down a marker. At times before half term they looked like one of the very best in the business, but back to back defeats heading into the break dented them. They came back with a narrow victory over Uppingham on Saturday but will want to get back to that early season dominance, against their nearest rivals would feel an opportune time. Abingdon are going to be bang up for this though and, as they showed against Sherborne, they can mix it with anyone. Masters of the close game at the moment, only their opener for the season was not, it could spell a close derby game – and there’s little better than that.

Who will win Radley College v Abingdon?

Rugby v Bromsgrove

Here at NextGenXV we have been unashamedly impressed by Rugby School, they have been superb all year and only the outstanding Clifton College have got the better of them. The half term break has not slowed their momentum either, beating a strong Stamford side last week and then knocking Schools Cup specialists Warwick out of that Cup in midweek. Bromsgrove will pose a challenge, particularly having been stung in midweek in the Cup themselves, missing out narrowly to a superb Monmouth side to end a four game unbeaten stretch. Both of these sides have made a real mark on the school rugby world in the years leading up to the pandemic enforced break, and that recent history should make for a good game on Saturday.

Who will win Rugby v Bromsgrove?

Sedbergh v Warwick

As mentioned, Warwick just lost out in the Schools Cup in midweek and narrowly to Bedford on Saturday, and will be keen to get back on the horse as fast as possible. They could hardly have found a trickier opposition to do so against though, travelling to Cumbria to take on the magisterial Sedbergh. The men in brown have been sublime this year, despite such an awkward early period that was littered with cancellations. They are unbeaten and have some superb results behind them, including strong wins over Denstone College last week and Whitgift just before the break. This game marks the start of a key period for them though, one that will likely determine how they are remembered by those on the outside as they brace for tests against Wellington College and Millfield. They will be hugely determined to make sure they keep up their form and momentum ahead of that, but Warwick will be determined to try to take their chance to burst the bubble.

Who will win Sedbergh v Warwick?

Sherborne v Marlborough College

An absolutely fascinating fixture, Sherborne have had a mixed bag of results but there is a sense that they are probably a better side than the win/loss column might suggest and they have performed well against some very strong sides. Marlborough will be an interesting test, struggling a little for form in the early part of the season, Marlborough have absolutely hit their stride now, winning their last three games in a row, including last weekend defeating Monmouth 27-5, a Monmouth side that was unbeaten and had been playing some cracking rugby. It makes this game very tricky to call, but one way or another, it should be brilliant and compelling.

Who will win Sherborne v Marlborough College?

Tonbridge v Harrow

A classic fixture and two brilliant teams. Tonbridge have pretty much been flying ever since the start of the season, there was one unexpected blip and the rest has seen them look imperious, including a 20-0 defeat of St Paul’s last time out. Harrow, meanwhile, have been similarly brilliant only Whitgift have got the better of them and despite having a major injury crisis they still managed to hold the outstanding Berkhamsted 1st XV to a draw. They are also making a deep Cup, which including a victory in midweek so they will be keen not to lose any momentum heading into this crucial period of the season. Regardless though, forget form, this fixture is a schools rugby classic, and this year it looks set not only to be a classic in prestige terms, but in pure quality terms too.

Who will win Tonbridge v Harrow?

Wellington College v Clifton College

Another classic, two of the best sides in the country going head to head in a game that will be a monumental test for both. For Wellington College their biggest challenge since a stunning game of rugby against Millfield that they just ended on the wrong side of, their only defeat, and for Clifton College the biggest challenge of this unbeaten season to date. Every time Clifton have been challenged they have risen to that challenge, but Saturday is going to be at another level altogether. All that does is whet the appetite because if they are the side we think they are, that spells a wonderful game of rugby because Wellington College are outstanding. It feels like it could hang on very fine margins, though Wellington’s experience of bigger games this season, including Millfield and the St Joseph’s Festival, might hang things slightly in their favour, then again Clifton are at home and will be buoyed by that. It feels as though it could be very special.

Who will win Wellington College v Clifton College?

Friday

Other than our live stream of Merchant Taylors’ and Reading Blue Coat, Friday is looking pretty quiet, with just King’s Rochester and St Olave’s Grammar in action, in what ought to prove a really well contested game of rugby.

Saturday

A quieter Friday means a busy Saturday though and there are some absolute crackers outside of our Ten to Watch. Among the biggest is a huge game between two of the most well known schools in the world, Eton College and St Paul’s. Both are actually have pretty similar seasons as well, with some outstanding performances and the odd tougher result against some of the top sides in the business, it should be a superb occasion.

As should Dulwich College v Whitgift, not so very long ago this was only of the top three or four fixtures on the calendar, and between 2010 and 2014 nobody else had a sniff of the Schools Cup. Dulwich’s form hasn’t quite been on that level of late and yet when you unpack things, this is a side that is still mixing it right at the sharp end, holding Wellington College close, competing strongly at the St Joseph’s Festival, and last week narrowly beating Whitgift’s great rivals, John Fisher, who are playing a massive all state school clash at Campion this weekend. Whitgift have been very strong though, only Wellington and Sedbergh have the better of them and in their two games since half term they have scored 59 points and conceded precisely zero.

Looking at sides playing bright rugby, Brighton College are certainly one, they face Tiffin at home on Saturday while their 2nd XV travel to Christ’s Hospital, where the NextGenXV team have recently been interviewing coaching guru Russell Earnshaw, look out for that one in the coming days.

Elsewhere Eltham College and New Hall go head to head while Coopers’ Coborn head to Bancrofts and Dartford Grammar welcome Cranbrook, Mill Hill travel into South West London to take on Emanuel. Meanwhile there is a massive clash between two sides that are playing some wonderful rugby, indeed both passed the 60 points threshold last weekend, Halliford and Wallington County Grammar, so expect a cracker there.

KCS Wimbledon are going to be keen to make a statement after a tough outing against Trinity last weekend, they travel out to Hurstpierpoint College with a bit of a point to prove. Elsewhere Eastbourne College host Worth after a strong midweek performance, while Churcher’s College host KES Southampton and King’s Canterbury welcome Sevenoaks. Maidstone Grammar are hosting Oakwood Park Grammar, with St Lawrence College and Duke of York’s Royal Military going head to head, meanwhile The Judd host Simon Langton Grammar.

St John’s Leatherhead v Skinners’ is a game to keep an eye on, St John’s are a good side and ordinarily ought to be too strong for Skinners’, but this season Skinners’ have made a name for themselves with their giant killing and will fancy another crack on Saturday. There are a few lower XVs that will be thinking along similar lines too, Seaford College’s 2nd XV heading to Gordon’s and Wimbledon College’s 3rd XV at London Oratory among them. Elsewhere Robert Clack host St Columba’s College and Langley Park are in action at Sir Joseph Williamson’s, while Rendcombe College and Bredon go head to head, so too Claremont and Cedars.

West London sees Shiplake College travel in for a tough test against a St Benedict’s side that seriously impressed in running Harrow close in midweek. Further West, The Oratory host Lord Wandsworth College. Elsewhere, Latymer Upper host Colfe’s, with Isleworth & Syon and Cardinal Vaughan going head to head in West London. On the East, Ravens Wood and Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar are in action.

Out towards Surrey and Reed’s are welcoming RGS Guildford, who are looking good, while St George’s Weybridge host Caterham, meanwhile a little more East, Reigate Grammar host City of London Freemen’s.

North of the capital sees a cracking looking game as the imperious Berkhamsted host Northampton School for Boys, a side far better than their win/loss ratio suggests, such is the strength of their fixture list. Watford Grammar are hosting UCS, while QES Barnet host Richard Hale and St George’s Harpenden welcome St Albans, but the really intriguing fixture in Hertfordshire looks like Haileybury Sutton Valence. Historically this would be expected to be a strong Haileybury victory, but Sutton Valence have been outstanding this year, unbeaten and making last week’s Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend, a victory on Saturday would be the statement win that really would make the watching world pay attention.

Elsewhere in the area, Bishop’s Stortford College host a good Framlingham College side, while the ever impressive Wellingborough, who ran Oundle so close in midweek, host Princethorpe College. Oundle themselves are also in action, hosting a Stamford side that have look so so impressive of late and only just fell short in a cracking game against Rugby last time out. Bedford Modern meanwhile host The Perse, while Wymondham College and Wisbech Grammar go head to head.

Suffolk sees St Joseph’s College host Samuel Whitbread Academy, a game that should have plenty of spice to it. Meanwhile keep an eye on Royal Hospital School v Felsted, RHS made last week’s Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend and are currently unbeaten, but Felsted will be one of their biggest challenges. Bury St Edmund’s sees Culford host RGS Colchester, while in Norfolk Gresham’s travel to Langley, and in Essex Brenwood host Bishop’s Stortford High.

Rutland is going to be the scene of one of the top games of the day as Uppingham, so impressive in defeat to Radley College last time out, host Stowe, one of the strongest sides in the country and a side looking to continue this extraordinary year in which only the brilliant Rugby School have beaten them. A little further north, Ratcliffe College host Trent College.

Further West, KES Birmingham host Loughborough Grammar, with Nottingham High, who looked good in midweek, travelling to Solihull. Meanwhile in Oxford, St Edward’s welcome RGS High Wycombe for what ought to be a decent game, and Magdalen College welcome KES Stratford. 

Not too far along, Bablake & King Henry VIII Coventry, who have been one of the quiet stars of the season, host Monmouth who lost their unbeaten record last week but were back to winning ways in the Cup in midweek. Meanwhile Bloxham, also quietly impressive, host Bishop Vesey’s Gramamr, who are looking strong, and Pangbourne College welcome Bishop Wordsworth’s.

Towards the south west, Hereford Cathedral School, fresh from last week’s Friday Night Lights victory, take on King’s Gloucester and will be hoping for more of the same. The Crypt were also impressive last Friday, they host QEH, while Waminster welcome Clifton High and Dauntsey’s host Kingswood.

One of the biggest games in the region sees Millfield make the trip up to Cheltenham College. Millfield are unbeaten, won the St Joseph’s Festival and have been in our Top 5 for four week’s running, but while they will start as favourites, Cheltenham will be bang up for this one, with Head of Rugby Olly Morgan being a former Millfield star. Elsewhere there are some crackers nearby too, Dean Close welcoming Malvern College chief among them, and well as Sir Thomas Rich’s v Pate’s Grammar, and Prior Park College’s trip to an in form Wycliffe College.

Devon plays host to a potential classic between Blundell’s and Canford, while Plymouth College travel up to West Buckland, with Milton Abbey welcoming Wells Cathedral, and Clayesmore hosting King’s Bruton. Meanwhile it’s a trip to Bryanston for Portsmouth Grammar.

There is a huge derby is Bristol as Bristol Grammar School host the much heralded Colston’s. It’s also a very busy day in Taunton, where King’s College v Exeter School looks like a brilliant fixture, meanwhile Queen’s College host Downside and KES Bath travel to Taunton School. Elsewhere, Wellington School host Monkton Combe.

Jumping right up to the North West of the country and in form Kirkham Grammar School, another of last week’s Top 5. They are hosting Queen Ethelburga’s and will be keen to continue their strong form. So too will Manchester Grammar, at home to Altrincham GrammarCheadle Hulme beat Altrincham in the Cup in midweek, they host Wilmslow High while St Ambrose College are hosting Sandbach and Merchant Taylors’ (Crosby), head to St Anselm’s College.

Elsewhere, Liverpool College welcome Newcastle-Under-Lyme, with Ellesmere College hosting Calday Grange Grammar, and Birkenhead welcome Wales’ Rydal Penrhos. Stockport Grammar are on the road at Bolton, while St Mary’s head to AKS Lytham.

In the North East there are some absolute crackers, few more so than St Peter’s York v Barnard Castle. The two met at Barnard Castle in the Cup in midweek, Barnard Castle winning 42-10, but over at St Peter’s it will be interesting to see if there is a change.

Staying in Yorkshire, Bradford Grammar take on QEGS Wakefield in a bit of a schoolboy classic and will be hoping to continue their good run of form, while Hymers College host Grammar School at Leeds and Giggleswick host Lancaster RGS>

Ampleforth College host Newcastle School for Boys, who make the trip down, going the other way are the outstanding Woodhouse Grove, so impressive this season. They head to Durham, for what promises to be a top game of rugby.

Scotland is looking pretty busy this weekend too, and Merchiston Castle v Dollar Academy is looking like the standout fixture. Stewart’s Melville, so impressive at times this season, are hosting Edinburgh Academy, while Strathallan head to George Heriot’s and Fettes College host George Watson’s College.

There should be some good fun in Glasgow as Glasgow Academy host Glasgow High and St Aloysius’ College host Kelvinside Academy. Elsewhere Robert Gordon’s host Glenalmond, Morrison’s Academy travel to Queen Victoria’s, and Dundee High head to Loretto, while Hutchesons’ Grammar host Marr 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 12th November

King’s Rochester v St Olave’s Grammar

Merchant Taylors’ v Reading Blue Coat

Saturday 13th November

AKS Lytham v St Mary’s, Crobsy

Ampleforth College v Newcastle School for Boys

Bablake & King Henry VIII, Coventry v Monmouth

Bancroft’s v Coopers’ Coborn

Bedford Modern v The Perse

Berkhamsted v Northampton School for Boys

Birkenhead v Rydal Penrhos

Bishop’s Stortford College v Framlingham College

Bloxham v Bishop Vesey’s Grammar

Blundell’s v Canford

Bolton v Stockport Grammar

Bradford Grammar v QEGS Wakefield

Brentwood v Bishop’s Stortford High

Brighton College v Tiffin

Bristol Grammar v Colston’s

Bryanston v Portsmouth Grammar

Campion v John Fisher

Cheadle Hulme v Wilmslow High

Cheltenham College v MIllfield

Christ’s Hospital v Brighton College 2nd XV

Churcher’s College v KES Southampton

Claremont Fan Court v Cedars

Clayesmore v King’s Bruton

Culford v RGS Colchester

Dartford Grammar v Cranbrook

Dauntsey’s v Kingswood

Dean Close v Malvern College

Dulwich College v Whitgift

Durham v Woodhouse Grove

Eastbourne College v Worth

Ellesmere College v Calday Grange Grammar

Eltham College v New Hall

Emanuel v Mill Hill

Epsom College v Cranleigh

Eton College v St Paul’s

Fettes College v George Watson’s College

George Heriot’s v Strathallan

Giggleswick v Lancaster RGS

Glasgow Academy v Glasgow High

Gordon’s v Seaford College 2nd XV

Haileybury v Sutton Valence

Halliford v Wallington County Grammar

Hampton v Trinity

Hereford Cathedral v King’s Gloucester

Hurstpierpoint College v KCS Wimbledon

Hutchesons’ Grammar v Marr College

Hymers College v Grammar School at Leeds

Isleworth & Syon v Cardinal Vaughan

KES Birmingham v Loughborough Grammar

King’s Canterbury v Sevenoaks

King’s College, Taunton v Exeter

Kirkham Grammar v Queen Ethelburga’s

Langley v Gresham’s

Latymer Upper v Colfe’s

Liverpool College v Newcastle-Under-Lyme

London Oratory v Wimbledon College 3rd XV

Loretto v Dundee High School

Magdalen College v KES Stratford

Maidstone Grammar v Oakwood Park Grammar

Manchester Grammar v Altrincham Grammar

Merchiston Castle v Dollar Academy

Milton Abbey v Wells Cathedral

Oakham v Bedford

Oundle v Stamford

Pangbourne College v Bishop Wordsworth’s

QES Barnet v Richard Hale

Queen’s College, Taunton v Downside

Queen Victoria v Morrison’s Academy

Radley College v Abingdon

Ratcliffe College v Trent College

Ravens Wood v Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar

Reed’s v RGS Guildford

Reigate Grammar v City of London Freemen’s

Rendcomb College v Bredon

Robert Clack v St Columba’s College

Robert Gordon’s College v Glenalmond College

Royal Hospital School v Felsted

Rugby v Bromsgrove

Sedbergh v Warwick

Sherborne v Marlborough College

Sir Joseph Williamson’s v Langley Park

Sir Thomas Rich’s v Pate’s Grammar

Solihull v Nottingham High

St Aloysius’ College v Kelvinside Academy

St Ambrose College v Sandbach

St Anselm’s College v Merchant Taylors’, Crosby

St Benedict’s v Shiplake College

St Edward’s, Oxford v RGS High Wycombe

St George’s, Harpenden v St Albans

St George’s, Weybridge v Caterham

St John’s, Leatherhead v Skinners’

St Joseph’s College v Samuel Whitbread Academy

St Lawrence College v Duke of York’s Royal Military

St Peter’s, York v Barnard Castle

Stewart’s Melville v Edinburgh Academy

Taunton v KES Bath

The Crypt v QEH

The Judd v Simon Langton Grammar

The Oratory v Lord Wandsworth College

Tonbridge v Harrow

Uppingham v Stowe

Warminster v Clifton High

Watford Grammar v UCS

Wellingborough v Princethorpe College

Wellington College v Clifton College

Wellington School v Monkton Combe

West Buckland v Plymouth College

Wycliffe College v Prior Park College

Wymondham College v Wisbech Grammar

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