It was a huge weekend of school rugby this weekend, arguably the biggest of the year so far with some absolutely epic performances coming in from around the country and some eye-catching results to go alongside them.
Some of the top sides in the country went head to head and the resulting games were simply brilliant, from last play victories to dominant performances in the face of incredible opposition.
On a weekend where many recent leavers were in Premiership Cup action as a result of the internationals, school rugby once again shone and we can expect plenty more from this current crop of players to be in senior action next season.
Ten to Watch
Our Ten to Watch series produced some spectacular games and results, but our readers impressively correctly predicted all but one of the games correctly.
The one that went the other way was so nearly correctly predicted too, our Friday night live stream between Merchant Taylors’ and Reading Blue Coat. Merchant Taylors’ held the lead heading into the final play of this culmination of their fantastic ‘Rugby Week’ only for Reading Blue Coat to cross the whitewash from a driving line out, and for Thomas David to land the conversion to give them the 15-14 victory away from home, defying the expectations of 55% of readers.
On Saturday the big games were coming thick and fast but perhaps the biggest of the lot was Wellington College v Clifton College, two of the very best sides in the country and they put on a game that reflected that status entirely. 52% of readers expected a Clifton College win and the men in blue and white delivered but in the most dramatic of circumstances. Sam Worsley, the Bristol Bears and England U18 star, had landed six out of six kicks and then, to cap the performance off, landed a last minute long-range drop goal to secure the 22-20 victory for Clifton College. It was heartbreak for Wellington College, who must have felt they had done enough, but for Clifton it was sheer joy, they are second in the Daily Mail Trophy and with a huge game against Millfield to come, there is every chance of them going all the way.
Sitting above them are Sedbergh, who one again put in a sensational performance on Saturday as they backed the view of 93% of readers to beat Warwick by a stunning 47-8 margin. The rest of their season is about as tough as it gets, and yet so far they are unbeaten and looking utterly unstoppable. Every test seems to see them finding the solutions, and their games against Wellington College and Millfield in the coming weeks are going to be absolutely spectacular.
Speaking of spectacular, Oakham were utterly spectacular on Saturday as they put Bedford to the sword. Bedford have been going well, but Oakham just stepped up fantastically well as they charged to a 50-19 victory that ought to have Stamford, Stowe, and Uppingham, their next three opponents, sitting up and taking note. It will be a touch one for Bedford to take, many thought it might be close – only 54% of readers backed Oakham, but they came up against a side that was simply absolutely flying.
Another side that is absolutely flying right not is Trinity. 52% of readers though they would go to Hampton and do the business and so it proved as they backed up their brilliant recent for to win 38-21 away from home – against a Hampton side that has looked brilliant at times this season. Trinity are just on fire at the moment though and have not lost a game since the start of October.
Rugby School are also in absolutely sizzling form and they were against on Saturday when they hosted Bromsgrove. 84% of readers thought they would seal the victory, but perhaps few thought it would be quite as dominant as the 38-13 victory that it turned out to be. Only the sensational Clifton have got the better of Rugby this season and, looking at things form wise, there is every reason to believe that Rugby could end the whole season with only Clifton getting one over on them. They are playing brilliantly well.
So too Epsom College, whose only blip this season came in midweek against the irresistible form of Trinity in the Cup. They did the only thing that they could on Saturday though when facing a superb Cranleigh side, showing great character to bounce back to peak performance to win 22-12 in line with the expectations of 61% of readers and maintaining their third place position in the Daily Mail Trophy table.
One of the most closely contested games of our Ten to Watch series was in Kent, where Tonbridge hosted Harrow. 56% of readers backed Harrow for the victory but it could hardly have been closer as the two sides had a real tussle and made life incredibly difficult for one another in what is a classic schools rugby fixture. In the end Harrow did fulfil the expectations of readers, winning 10-8, a fantastic effort against a top Tonbridge side, but it was a really gritty and close encounter.
Similarly, the Oxford derby was a close one as Abingdon travelled to Radley College. Radley have been brilliant at times this season, while Abingdon have had their struggles, but recent form suggested it might to be too big a disparity on Saturday, despite nearly 83% of readers backing Radley. That sense proved right as a great derby match unfolded, relatively low-scoring and tense, and it ended up going 15-10 in favour of Radley, a fair result but one that they had to work oh so hard for.
So to the final game of our Ten to Watch and one that produced some absolutely thrilling scenes as over 400 people turned up at Sherborne for their game against Marlborough College, in what may be their final home game of the season. It was a brilliant advert for schools rugby by all accounts, a wonderful atmosphere as these two storied schools went head to head. Marlborough were in super recent form, while Sherborne were looking for a statement result and they duly delivered with a fantastic 35-14 victory, as predicted by 87% of readers. Just a wonderful schools rugby occasion.
It was a relatively quiet Friday, the only game outside of our live stream of that dramatic late victory for Reading Blue Coat at Merchant Taylors’ was an entertaining 22-15 victory for King’s Rochester against St Olave’s Grammar.
Saturday was just an epic day, well beyond our Ten to Watch the were sublime games of rugby and yet more stunning performances from some of those sides that have really lit the school rugby scene up this season.
Berkhamsted’s first game back after half term was simply another example of the outstanding form that they have been in all season, beating Northampton School for Boys 54-19 to remain unbeaten as they head into their Schools Cup game with Seaford College on Wednesday.
On the other side of the spectrum, Sutton Valence lost their unbeaten record despite a brilliant comeback at Haileybury, who were outstanding in their fast start to the game and their standing up to relentless late Sutton Valence pressure. It was a top quality game of rugby, both teams showing tonnes of skill, courage and effort. Haileybury started like a train and produced some of their best rugby of the season. Captain Dan Cannon scored a superb team try to take an early lead. Sutton Valance hit straight back to make it 7-5. The hosts continued to press and scored again through Finn Newton with a superb set play try. They added to this with powerful centre Dan Hoyes scoring a fourth try, again from set piece, adding to a great effort from flanker Toby Rynn, who produced a man of the match display. Sutton Valance scored a crucial second just before half time with the talismanic Sam Aylwin in the bin, leaving it 26-12 at the break. Sutton Valance’s then took their turn to have a purple patch – producing some great rugby to put Haileybury under huge pressure and scoring two fine tries to get it back to 26-22 with 10 to go. The home team held out for a great win. This was some match and Haileybury will be delighted to take home the spoils.
Elsewhere in the area, Framlingham College were again impressive as they beat Bishop’s Stortford College, while Bishop’s Stortford’s local rivals Bishop’s Stortford High School won an absolute thriller away at Brentwood, 38-32. St Albans continue to go well, they beat St George’s Harpdenden 19-6, while Wellingborough bounced back from midweek disappointment against Oundle to perform brilliantly against Princethorpe College, winning 42-12.
Oundle meanwhile could not quite back up that midweek victory as Stamford returned to winning ways quickly after defeat to Rugby last week, sealing a 24-12 triumph away from home ahead of a showdown with Berkhamsted at the weekend. Oundle’s great rivals Uppingham faced the magnificent Stowe on Saturday, whom only Rugby have beaten, and Stowe showed their unbelievable quality once again with a brilliant 26-6 victory in Rutland. Meanwhile Trent College were on song on the road against Ratcliffe College, winning 39-7.
Back slightly further south, The Perse played well for a 31-14 victory at Bedford Modern, while Wymondham College were flying at home to Wisbech Grammar for a 36-0 victory. Meanwhile RGS Colchester were on form at Culford, winning 24-7. One of the most significant results in East Anglia though was a 34-25 victory for Royal Hospital School against Felsted. Royal Hospital remain unbeaten and were part of our Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend last week, but arguably this was their signature result of the season, facing a school that is one of the strongest in the area traditionally, whose track record of classy players is incredible. For RHS to beat them was a significant feather in the cap.
Moving further West and into Oxford, where RGS High Wycombe enjoyed a 26-12 victory at Teddies Oxford. It was a strong performance from RGS, and down the road Magdalen College were also in good form as they beat KES Stratford 24-5. In Banbury Bloxham were absolutely fantastic against a Bishop Vesey’s Grammar side that has had some epic performances this year. Bloxham were simply unstoppable, winning 56-5.
In similar form were Solihull, who beat Nottingham High School 54-19, while KES Birmingham won 20-5 at home to Loughborough Grammar. Monmouth have been brilliant this year but they faced another side that has been performing superbly, Bablake & King Henry VIII Coventry. A close game unfolded, but it was Monmouth that came out on top, a very good 15-5 victory away from home.
In the South West Millfield continue to look like somewhat of an irresistible force as they travelled to Cheltenham College and came back with a 24-5 victory and their unbeaten record in tact as they brace for a massive few weeks. Also on song were Blundell’s, who saw off the threat of Canford impressively as they sealed an excellent 47-12 victory. Malvern College were also highlight impressive, travelling to Dean Close and returning with a 31-5 victory.
One of the games of the day was King’s College Taunton v Exeter School, it was an absolute thriller that ended 26-22 in favour of King’s, after a last play try sealed the game for them in the most dramatic of styles. Our reporter was pitchside and you can check out what happened here: King’s College v Exeter. Elsewhere in Taunton, Taunton School beat KES Bath by a stunning 40-8 margin.
Sir Thomas Rich’s had a powerful 38-17 victory over Pate’s Grammar, while Dauntsey’s won 38-10 at home to Kingswood, Bishop Wordsworth’s had a similar margin, travelling to Pangbourne College and returning with a 34-10 victory.
Colston’s won an absolute thriller at Bristol Grammar, 22-20, and there were close wins for Monkton Combe, 29-27 at Wellington School, Bryanston, 29-24 at home to Portsmouth Grammar, and QEH too, who won 25-20 at The Crypt. Elsewhere Hereford Cathedral School played well for a 22-12 defeat of King’s Gloucester, while West Buckland beat Plymouth College 22-0, and Wycliffe College put in another strong performance for a 31-12 victory over Prior Park College.
Over in London and the South East there were some huge performances, not least from Whitgift who showed their quality away at Dulwich College to claim a 28-5 victory in South East London. Not far from there, Eltham College were also on form as they claimed a 34-0 victory over New Hall, while Ravens Wood beat Chislehurst & Sidcup 20-7, and Colfe’s won 26-0 at Latymer Upper.
St Benedict’s remain in brilliant form, and riding high in the Daily Mail Trophy too, on Saturday they were superb value for a 24-6 victory over Shiplake College. Elsewhere Cardinal Vaughan won 35-5 at Isleworth & Syon, while Cedars defeated Claremont 40-15. Meanwhile Watford Grammar won a close one at home to UCS, 19-15, and London Oratory held off the challenge from Wimbledon College to win 17-11. Wallington County Grammar meanwhile won a really tight one against Halliford, 7-0. The two have been great all year and could barely be separated, but it was the away side that just clinched it.
Mill Hill won a high scoring game at Emanuel 44-29, while Gordon’s were impressive against Seaford College’s 2nd XV, beating them 21-7. Rencomb College were on fire though, beating Bredon 59-0. There was good news for Sir Joseph Williamson’s as they defeated Langley Park 22-10, while St Columba’s College travelled to face Robert Clack and impressively won 26-19.
Brighton College were absolutely sensational on Saturday, putting Tiffin to the sword in a 50-7 victory. Their 2nd XV was in stunning form too as they defeated Christ’s Hospital’s 1st XV 41-26 away from home. Meanwhile Worth travelled to Eastbourne College and claimed an impressive 21-3 victory, with KCS Wimbledon back on form, beating Hurstpierpoint College 24-10 away from home.
Skinners’ continue to display their quality, their latest victim being St John’s Leatherhead, whom they beat 15-3 away from home on Saturday. Meanwhile The Judd beat Simon Langton Grammar 19-0 and Dartford Grammar beat Cranbrook 26-12.
Churcher’s College were in flying form at home to KES Southampton with a brilliant 58-12 victory, while King’s Canterbury were also in sparkling form as they defeated Sevenoaks 37-0. RGS Guildford meanwhile picked up a strong 22-7 victory away at Reed’s.
The surrounds of London saw some really close matches, not least one of the most prestigious fixtures in the country as Eton College hosted St Paul’s. It was a cracking game that really could have swung either way, but it ended up the way of the hosts, who sealed a 24-17 victory and are on course for a really strong season overall. Elsewhere Reigate Grammar just held off the challenge of City of London Freemen’s, 13-12, while St George’s College Weybridge won a tight one at home to Caterham, 12-8.
Moving to the North of the country and in the north west Ellesmere College were utterly brilliant against Calday Grange Grammar as they defeated their visitors by a staggering 52-0 margin. Birkenhead were almost as impressive as they saw off the Rydal Penrhos challenge 50-7, while St Mary’s Crosby won 43-14 at AKS Lytham.
Kirkham Grammar remain unbeaten after yet another dominant victory, this time over Queen Ethelburga’s, whom they beat 32-3. Livepool College won a thriller against Newcastle-Under-Lyme 28-22 and it was a similar story for St Anelm’s College, who beat Merchant Taylors’ 38-26. Cheadle Hulme meanwhile won a low-scoring one at home to Wilmslow High, 10-3.
Across the Pennines, Lancaster RGS won their mini war of the roses in sensational fashion at Giggleswick, with by a stunning 66-5 margin. Grammar School at Leeds were also on strong form as they beat Hymers College 33-5, while QEGS Wakefield were in great for a 15-0 win at Bradford Grammar.
Ampleforth College were back to their best as they held off the challenge from the North East, beating Newcastle School for Boys 34-7. Going the other way were Woodhouse Grove, they travelled up to Durham and showed off the quality that has been evident from them all season as they sealed a very strong 41-13 victory.
In Scotland the game of the day was expected to be Merchiston Castle v Dollar Academy, and it lived entirely up to expectations, finishing in a thrilling 24-24 draw. That exact scoreline was replicated at George’s Heriot’s as the hosts were held by Strathallan, meanwhile George Watson’s College were on song at Fettes College, winning 42-19.
Elsewhere Stewart’s Melville were brilliant, beating Edinburgh Academy 34-0. Loretto were in similar for with a 59-5 victory over Dundee High, while St Aloysius’ College beat Kelvinside Academy 40-3. Elsewhere Glasgow Academy won their derby with Glasgow High 31-12, and Morrison’s Academy won 22-14 at Queen Victoria. Glenalmond College also won away, a thriller at Robert Gordon’s, 34-29.
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Friday 12th November
King’s Rochester 22-15 St Olave’s Grammar
Merchant Taylors’ 14-15 Reading Blue Coat
Saturday 13th November
AKS Lytham 14-43 St Mary’s, Crobsy
Ampleforth College 34-7 Newcastle School for Boys
Bablake & King Henry VIII, Coventry 5-15 Monmouth
Bedford Modern 14-31 The Perse
Berkhamsted 54-19 Northampton School for Boys
Birkenhead 50-7 Rydal Penrhos
Bishop’s Stortford College 7-18 Framlingham College
Bloxham 56-5 Bishop Vesey’s Grammar
Blundell’s 47-12 Canford
Bradford Grammar 0-15 QEGS Wakefield
Brentwood 32-38 Bishop’s Stortford High
Brighton College 50-7 Tiffin
Bristol Grammar 20-22 Colston’s
Bryanston 29-24 Portsmouth Grammar
Cheadle Hulme 10-3 Wilmslow High
Cheltenham College 5-24 MIllfield
Christ’s Hospital 26-41 Brighton College 2nd XV
Churcher’s College 58-12 KES Southampton
Claremont Fan Court 15-40 Cedars
Culford 7-24 RGS Colchester
Dartford Grammar 26-12 Cranbrook
Dauntsey’s 38-10 Kingswood
Dean Close 5-31 Malvern College
Dulwich College 5-28 Whitgift
Durham 13-41 Woodhouse Grove
Eastbourne College 3-21 Worth
Ellesmere College 52-0 Calday Grange Grammar
Eltham College 34-0 New Hall
Emanuel 29-44 Mill Hill
Epsom College 22-12 Cranleigh
Eton College 24-17 St Paul’s
Fettes College 19-42 George Watson’s College
George Heriot’s 24-24 Strathallan
Giggleswick 5-66 Lancaster RGS
Glasgow Academy 31-12 Glasgow High
Gordon’s 21-7 Seaford College 2nd XV
Haileybury 26-22 Sutton Valence
Halliford 0-7 Wallington County Grammar
Hampton 21-38 Trinity
Hereford Cathedral 22-12 King’s Gloucester
Hurstpierpoint College 10-24 KCS Wimbledon
Hymers College 5-33 Grammar School at Leeds
Isleworth & Syon 5-35 Cardinal Vaughan
KES Birmingham 20-5 Loughborough Grammar
King’s Canterbury 37-0 Sevenoaks
King’s College, Taunton 26-22 Exeter
Kirkham Grammar 32-3 Queen Ethelburga’s
Latymer Upper 0-26 Colfe’s
Liverpool College 28-22 Newcastle-Under-Lyme
London Oratory 17-11 Wimbledon College 2nd XV
Loretto 59-5 Dundee High School
Magdalen College 24-5 KES Stratford
Merchiston Castle 24-24 Dollar Academy
Oakham 50-19 Bedford
Oundle 12-24 Stamford
Pangbourne College 10-34 Bishop Wordsworth’s
Queen Victoria 14-22 Morrison’s Academy
Radley College 15-10 Abingdon
Ratcliffe College 7-39 Trent College
Ravens Wood 20-7 Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar
Reed’s 7-22 RGS Guildford
Reigate Grammar 13-12 City of London Freemen’s
Rendcomb College 59-0 Bredon
Robert Clack 19-26 St Columba’s College
Robert Gordon’s College 29-34 Glenalmond College
Royal Hospital School 34-25 Felsted
Rugby 38-13 Bromsgrove
Sedbergh 47-8 Warwick
Sherborne 35-14 Marlborough College
Sir Joseph Williamson’s 22-10 Langley Park
Sir Thomas Rich’s 38-17 Pate’s Grammar
Solihull 54-19 Nottingham High
St Aloysius’ College 40-3 Kelvinside Academy
St Anselm’s College 38-26 Merchant Taylors’, Crosby
St Benedict’s 24-6 Shiplake College
St Edward’s, Oxford 12-26 RGS High Wycombe
St George’s, Harpenden 7-19 St Albans
St George’s, Weybridge 12-8 Caterham
St John’s, Leatherhead 3-15 Skinners’
Stewart’s Melville 34-0 Edinburgh Academy
Taunton 40-8 KES Bath
The Crypt 20-25 QEH
The Judd 19-0 Simon Langton Grammar
Tonbridge 8-10 Harrow
Uppingham 6-26 Stowe
Watford Grammar 19-15 UCS
Wellingborough 42-12 Princethorpe College
Wellington College 20-22 Clifton College
Wellington School 27-29 Monkton Combe
West Buckland 22-0 Plymouth College
Wycliffe College 31-12 Prior Park College
Wymondham College 36-0 Wisbech Grammar
Still to Come:
Bancroft’s v Coopers’ Coborn
Campion v John Fisher
Clayesmore v King’s Bruton
Maidstone Grammar v Oakwood Park Grammar
Milton Abbey v Wells Cathedral
QES Barnet v Richard Hale
Queen’s College, Taunton v Downside
St Ambrose College v Sandbach
St Joseph’s College v Samuel Whitbread Academy
The Oratory v Lord Wandsworth College
Warminster v Clifton High