This weekend is a key one in the schools rugby season, the mid-point of this second half of term and with it come some brilliant fixtures.
From major derbies, to rising stars taking on established names, and of course the return of The Schools Championship after a 40 day absence, there is so much to be excited about this weekend.
That includes our live stream of that game in The Schools Championship, Millfield v Whitgift, a 1.30pm kick off that, if recent history between the two sides is any guide, and indeed the last two rounds of action in The Schools Championship, ought to be a high scoring nail-biter. You will be able to watch the drama unfold on our YouTube channel and embedded below.
This week’s NextGenXV Podcast also takes in the weekend’s fixtures, as well as looking back at the Top 5 Schools of the Weekend from last weekend’s fixtures, and selecting our bench for the NextGenXV Greatest Schools XV of the Decade – 14 different schools were represented in the starting XV, how many will be added in the bench?
Ten to Watch
Of course we begin our preview in the usual fashion by selecting our ‘Ten to Watch’, ten games that we think should be particularly great fixtures and occasions and into which we delve a little deeper in our preview.
Berkhamsted v Stamford
Berkhamsted are the reigning champions in the Daily Mail Trophy and their season got off to a flyer, however the last few weeks have been challenging as they have taken on some of the best in the country and lost out to Harrow, Clifton College, and Northampton School for Boys. They will be absolutely desperate to get back to winning way and to put in a strong performance at home against Stamford, but Stamford are running high on confidence at the moment after a dominant victory last weekend and a victory over Rugby School the week before. It should be a tight game, one with plenty riding on it for both, and that should make for a top game of rugby.
Epsom College v Brighton College
These two both had really satisfying weekend’s last time out. Epsom College made it four in a row with their biggest scalp of the season, edging it 20-19 at Cranleigh in a result that will have left them really satisfied after some tough outings earlier in the season. Brighton College will be a step up though and Brighton are feeling good after arguably their best performance of the season last time out against St John’s Leatherhead. Both sides will be eager to keep the gains and momentum up on Saturday, and both have such a rich rugby history, it ought to be a great occasion.
Hurstpierpoint College v Trinity
Can anyone stop the Trinity train? It’s going to be an awesome challenge for Hurstpierpoint College but one that they will likely relish. A strong performance would also really help to kickstart the end of their season, which includes a live stream against Seaford College on Thursday 24th. Trinity though are looking unrelenting, unbeaten, sitting second in the NextGenXV Schools Rugby Table by a solitary point from Clifton College, and playing some glorious rugby. They have a busy little period coming up though, taking on the also unbeaten The Judd in the Schools Cup on Wednesday, remember Trinity are the reigning champions there, if focus drifts towards that, Hurstpierpoint would love nothing more than to pounce.
King’s Macclesfield v Stonyhurst
Talking of sides that are looking unrelenting and are currently unbeaten, King’s Macclesfield fit the bill too. They have been absolutely outstanding this season, and have probably not been heralded enough for it. On Wednesday they reached the county cup final with a 30-0 victory over Calday Grange Grammar, a week on from reaching the Quarter Finals of the Schools Cup. Now though they face a massive climax to the season, Stonyhurst, Sedbergh, and Grammar School at Leeds, plus those knockout games. Stonyhurst are going to be tough on Saturday, they are on a three game winning streak and only RGS Newcastle and Bradford Grammar have got the better of them. They are going to be laser focused on this one, and this outstanding King’s Macclesfield side will need to be in peak form.
Millfield v Whitgift – The Schools Championship – Live Streamed
Last year Millfield won this 28-26, their Colts won 27-26, in the last two rounds of The Schools Championship Millfield beat Wellington College 31-28, and Wellington College beat Whitgift 29-28. Everything therefore says that this game should be incredibly tight, and handful of points are all that seems to be between them. Throw in the added drama of The Schools Championship, back for Round 4 after three thrilling rounds before half term, and we could have a classic on our hands. NextGenXV will be live streaming the game, which you can watch on our YouTube channel or at the top of this page, and we have also previewed this one in detail, check that out here: Millfield v Whitgift | The Schools Championship Round 4 Preview.
Northampton School for Boys v Warwick
This one could be absolutely brilliant, both sides feel well matched, and both have had some wonderful performances this year. NSB have claimed the scalps of high flying Ipswich and Daily Mail Trophy holders Berkhamsted, while running the likes of Denstone, Bedford, and the high-flying Finborough close. They are playing some seriously top level rugby. Warwick are no strangers to that themselves though, have given Sedbergh a real fright last week in a 21-10 defeat and having beaten the likes of Stamford, Bedford, and Rugby. This really feels like one where anything could happen, and that is always an exciting way to enter a top level game of schools rugby.
QEGS Wakefield v Woodhouse Grove
Two giants of the school game. QEGS have had a bit of a tough season but since half term things have been positive, a victory over a Bradford Grammar side that has been playing well, and in midweek a really strong performance in the Plate against a good Barnard Castle side. Woodhouse Grove’s season has been similar, a slow start but since mid-October some really positive performances and results. The key though is surely that this is the second meeting of these two, back in September they met in the opening round of the Cup, with QEGS winning a brilliant game 31-24. What bearing, if any will that have? Will QEGS be buoyed having already beaten the visitors, or will Woodhouse Grove be doubly determined as they seek to get one back. One way or another, it should make for an awesome game.
RGS Guildford v St Paul’s
Could RGS Guildford claim another major scalp? The likes of Cranleigh, Epsom College, and KCS Wimbledon have already succumbed to their play, St Paul’s would be another in that category. It has been a brilliant season from the Surrey side, split in three parts really, and unbeaten September, a winless October, and a November that has so far been perfect. St Paul’s will want to end that pattern for Guildford, but are coming through a sticky November of their own with back to back defeats, however they only have to look backwards to the likes of Radley College to some brilliant victories. This should be a wonderful occasion.
RGS Newcastle v Durham (at Kingston Park)
Newcastle Falcons’ Kingston Park is the host venue for this one, the Richard Metcalfe Cup. A brilliant fixture, one with a new date in the calendar but no less weight associated with it. RGS are on a real streak in this one though, the last time Durham claimed the Cup was in 2015 but you get the sense that that is only going to add to their determination. Old boys from both sides have been sending in messages of support, including from within the Newcastle Falcons camp where there is a bit of friendly rivalry going on between old boys of the two this week. Form wise RGS Newcastle are looking good, with three victories on the bounce and a place in the Schools Cup quarter finals, Durham have been looking good too though, prior to defeat to Woodhouse Grove last time out they had won their last four in a row. That all goes out of the window on Saturday, it’s all about playing the occasion, and, more important than anything, enjoying it.
St Joseph’s College v Finborough
Finborough can probably already claim to be the strongest side in Suffolk this year, having beaten the exceptional Ipswich School, indeed with victories over the likes of Northampton School for Boys, Felsted, and Bedford (which helped them to a place in the Schools Cup quarter finals), their reach stretches way beyond Suffolk. However St Joseph’s College are the scalp you need to take to conquer the region, such is the history that they have built through some great teams, their Festival, and their sheer unbridled passion. St Jo’s know that, and they will be putting absolutely everything into Saturday’s game, a game in which they know that if they get a result people will seriously sit up and take notice. As for Finborough, we are all already on notice, now it’s about how far they can go.
Around the Grounds
Of course there is so much more than just our Ten to Watch, hundreds of games more in fact, and all should be superb occasions in the own right over the course of Friday and Saturday.
Bablake & King Henry VIII v Solihill
Bishop’s Stortford High v St Albans
Hereford 6th form College v Hereford Cathedral School
New Hall v Westcliff High
Pate’s Grammar v The Crypt (at Cheltenham Tigers)
There are some exciting games on Friday, and perhaps none more so than Hereford 6th form College v Hereford Cathedral School, ‘The Apple Cup’, these two often produce some thrilling games and Friday night out to be no different, with excitement already high on social media.
Elsewhere, Cheltenham Tigers hosts Pate’s Grammar against The Crypt, while Bablake & King Henry VIII go head to head with Solihull as well. Hertfordshire sees St Albans look to get quickly back on the horse after a midweek Vase defeat as they take on Bishop’s Stortford High School, meanwhile New Hall host Westcliff High.
AKS Lytham v Bolton
Altrincham Grammar v The Grange
Ampleforth College v Mount St Mary’s College
Ashville College v Bradford Grammar
Austin Friars v Newcastle School for Boys
Barnard Castle v Pocklington
Bedford Modern v Stowe
Bloxham v Bromsgrove
Brentwood v Eltham College
Bristol Grammar v Blundell’s
Bryanston v Wells Cathedral
Campion v Dartford Grammar
Canford v Seaford College
Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar v Skinners’
Christ College v Cathedral School, Llandaff
Collegiate v Prior Park College
City of London Freemen’s v Portsmouth Grammar
Dame Allan’s v Giggleswick
Denstone College v Malvern College
Dollar Academy v Morrison’s Academy
Embley v Ryde
Felsted v Norwich
Glasgow Academy v George Heriot’s
Glasgow High v Kelvinside Academy
Halliford v Churcher’s College
KCS Wimbledon v Tiffin
KES Bath v Kingswood
KES Birmingham v Nottingham High
KES Southampton v Magdalen College
KES Stratford v RGS Worcester
King’s College, Taunton v QEH
King’s Ely v Robert Clack
King’s Worcester v Bishop Vesey’s Grammar
Kirkham Grammar v Leicester Grammar (at Sandbach RFC)
Lancaster RGS v Scarisbrick Hall
Langley Park v The Judd
Latymer Upper v Aylesbury Grammar
Loughborough Grammar v Princethorpe College
Lord Wandsworth College v Pangbourne College
Manchester Grammar v Cheadle Hulme
Merchant Taylors’, Crosby v St Ambrose College
Merchant Taylors’, Northwood v Richard Hale
Monkton Combe v King’s Bruton
Monmouth v Dean Close
Ratcliffe College v Wisbech Grammar
Ravens Wood v Woodlands
Reading Blue Coat v St George’s College, Weybridge
Reigate Grammar v Emanuel
RGS Colchester v Coopers’ Coborn
Royal Hospital School v Framlingham College
Sevenoaks v King’s Canterbury
Shebbear College v Plymouth College
St Aloysius’ College v Stewart’s Melville
St Anselm’s College v Sandbach
St George’s, Harpenden v UCS
St John’s Leatherhead v St Benedict’s
St Olave’s Grammar v Maidstone Grammar
St Peter’s, York v Grammar School at Leeds
Sutton Valence v Cranbrook
Tonbridge v Dulwich College
Wellingborough v St Edmund’s College
Wellington v Exeter
West Buckland Triangular: Mount Kelly, Queen’s College Taunton, West Buckland
Wimbledon College v Reed’s
Wrekin College v Oswestry
Wycliffe College v Downside
Saturday is a day packed with top fixtures and teams looking to continue their irresistible momentum. One of those are The Judd, who are unbeaten and in sensational form this year. They have a huge Cup tie against Trinity in midweek and will want to be at their best for that, but also at their most confident, which means they will be eager to put in a top performance on Saturday as they travel to Langley Park.
Denstone College must surely still be full of beans after that incredible victory up at Sedbergh a fortnight ago. They now take on Malvern College on Saturday, with Malvern knowing that victory would be huge against such a good side, while Denstone will want to make good on that performance of a fortnight ago and continue their climb up the NextGenXV Schools Rugby Table.
One side already right up at the top end of that are unbeaten Kirkham Grammar, currently sitting in 6th. They look to continue that unbeaten record on Saturday when they take on Leicester Grammar School at Sandbach RFC.
Seaford College will be appearing on the NextGenXV live streams next week when they take on Hurstpierpoint College, but first they have a tricky trip to Canford who were impressive despite defeat to Bryanston on our live stream a fortnight ago.
After a brilliant performance in the Schools Plate against Rugby School earlier this week, Bloxham will be eager to go again on Saturday as they host Bromsgrove in what could well prove to be a really tight game of rugby between two good sides. Meanwhile in Yorkshire Ampleforth College welcome Schools Vase holders Mount St Mary’s College, another game that could be a particularly good encounter.
Stowe have been superb this season and on Saturday they head to a side that has been having one of their best seasons for some time, Bedford Modern. It would be a huge achievement for Bedford Modern to better Stowe, but you can be sure they will give it everything. Stowe meanwhile are sure to be keen to be at their absolute peak through this latter part of the season after having their Cup dreams ended in a thriller at Oakham in last week’s live stream.
One side whose Cup dream is very much alive is Blundell’s, they are into the quarter finals. It’s regular season business this Saturday though as they travel for a tricky one at Bristol Grammar School. Over in Wales Monmouth are having another really strong season and will be keen to continue it against a Dean Close side on Saturday that have found the going tough compared to other recent Dean Close sides, although with the likes of Ioan Jones in their ranks, Dean Close are a threat to anyone.
Hertfordshire’s Richard Hale are having a season to remember, only Brentwood have bettered them and they are into the fifth round of the Schools Vase. On Saturday they test themselves with a trip to Merchant Taylors’, who put in such a strong performance in a heartbreaking defeat to Reading Blue Coat last Friday night, they are sure to be determined to get over that heartbreak with what would be an outstanding victory over this superb Richard Hale side.
One of the biggest games of the day, indeed one of the biggest games of most seasons, is Tonbridge v Dulwich College, two sides with some of the richest rugby histories in the nation. Indeed they are right up there in the world on that front. Tonbridge have found great form after a slowish early season, competing really well even in defeat to the outstanding Harrow 1st XV last week. Dulwich have found the going tougher, but in such a special fixture are this they will be bang up for it.
Another good looking fixture is Felsted v Norwich, two schools that have had some truly outstanding teams in recent times and that in Max Malins and Freddie Steward have two of England’s leading back three contenders among the ranks of their old boys. That game should be great on Saturday.
Elsewhere in Essex, Brentwood host Eltham College, with RGS Colchester welcoming Coopers’ Coborn, while in Suffolk there is a great contest as Royal Hospital School welcome Framlingham College to Ipswich. In Cambridgeshire, King’s Ely host Robert Clack, meanwhile elsewhere Wellingborough host St Edmund’s College and St George’s Harpenden, who are having a good year, host UCS.
London sees KCS Wimbledon hosting Tiffin, KCS looking for a big performance while local rivals Wimbledon College host a strong Reed’s side. Halliford meanwhile welcome Churcher’s College, while Ravens Wood host Woodlands and Latymer Upper welcome Aylesbury Grammar.
Campion are looking pretty decent this year, they host Dartford Grammar, who themselves are going well, while City of London Freemen’s welcome Portsmouth Grammar.
Kent sees Sutton Valence at home to Cranbrook, with a cracking game as well between Sevenoaks and King’s Canterbury. Meanwhile Skinners’ are in action at Chislehurst & Sidcup and St Olave’s Grammar welcome Maidstone Grammar.
In Surrey Reigate Grammar, who are playing some good stuff, are at home against Emanuel, while St John’s Leatherhead host St Benedict’s in what should be a great game. Travelling from Surrey are St George’s College Weybridge, they head to Reading to take on Reading Blue Coat, another game that should be fantastic – Reading Blue Coat are flying this year.
Futher South, Lord Wandsworth College welcome Pangbourne College, who have just had their Friday Night Lights against Shiplake College in December announced, while Ryde head to Embley, and KES Southampton host Magdalen College.
Further towards the South West it is a busy day, probably one of the fullest areas for fixtures of the weekend. One of the most exciting sets of games will be a Triangular at West Buckland, with Mount Kelly and Queen’s College Taunton the visitors. Queen’s College’s Taunton rivals, King’s College, are at home to QEH, while KES Bath host Kingswood and King’s Bruton head to Monkton Combe.
Bryanston are back at home and will look to replicate their strong performance against Canford when they host Wells Cathedral, while Collegiate v Prior Park College looks as though it could be a top game. Plymouth College and Exeter School both travel from Devon to take on Shebbear College and Wellington School respectively, while Wycliffe College host Downside.
In Wales, meanwhile, there is a cracker as high-flying Christ College host the ambitious Cathedral School Llandaff, that should be a top fixture.
Back across the border, meanwhile, Oswestry head to Wrekin College, and KES Stratford welcome RGS Worcester, whose Worcester rivals King’s Worcester are at home to Bishop Vesey’s Grammar.
KES Birmingham welcome Nottingham High School, while on the other side of the Midlands Loughborough Grammar welcome Princethorpe College and Ratcliffe College host Wisbech Grammar.
Yorkshire sees a top fixture as St Peter’s York and Grammar School at Leeds go head to head, meanwhile Bradford Grammar, fast becoming a fan favourite, head to Ashville College. Travelling from Yorkshire to the North East are Pocklington, who take on a Barnard Castle side that will be full of confidence after that Schools Plate win over QEGS Wakefield. Making a similar journey are Giggleswick, who head to Dame Allan’s, while Austin Friars and Newcastle School for Boys go head to head in what should be a top game.
The North West of England sees Lancaster RGS, who had a top midweek result, hosting Scarisbrick Hall, while Merchant Taylors’ Crosby host a strong St Ambrose College side and St Anselm’s College host Sandbach. Manchester Grammar v Cheadle Hulme always feels like a massive encounter, while Bolton head to AKS Lytham and The Grange are away to Altrincham Grammar.
Scotland has had a busy midweek, so it’s a quieter weekend. Nevertheless Dollar Academy host Morrison’s Academy and Stewart’s Melville head to St Aloysius’ College, who had a strong performance in midweek. In Glasgow George Heriot’s are at Glasgow Academy, while Kelvinside Academy head to Glasgow High School.