Term might be rapidly drawing to a close as we hit December this week, but on the field there is absolutely no signs of a slow down in the world of schools rugby after yet another outstanding weekend.
There were some extraordinary games of rugby, some of the best in the country demonstrating just as much, some epic high-scoring and tight encounters, two contrasting Anglo-Irish encounters and, as will be revealed tomorrow, a new leader in the NextGenXV Schools Rugby Table.
As the final couple of weeks of the season unfold in front of us, things are going to get very interesting indeed.
Ten to Watch
Barnard Castle 31-29 Durham – Friday
Bedford 17-43 Harrow
Brighton College 26-17 The Judd
Clifton College 6-32 Blackrock College, Ireland – Live Streamed
King’s Macclesfield 20-46 Sedbergh
Kirkham Grammar 49-12 Ballymena Academy, Northern Ireland – Friday
Rugby 24-17 Warwick
Stamford 29-29 Oakham
Stewart’s Melville 19-26 Edinburgh Academy (Scottish Schools Cup SF)
Strathallan 14-19 Merchiston Castle (Scottish Schools Cup SF)
Our Ten to Watch began with an absolute bang on Friday night as Barnard Castle and Durham went head to head in an epic. At one stage Durham led 23-13 but a Barnard Castle try narrowed things to 26-18, Durham had scored a penalty, then another narrowed it to 26-23, leading to the most tense of finishes. Barnard Castle scored again for a 28-26 but a Durham penalty stuck them a point ahead, but Barnard Castle found a way and slapped over a penalty for a dramatic and thrilling 31-29 victory.
Also on Friday, Kirkham Grammar School extended this remarkable unbeaten season with a truly outstanding 49-12 victory over Northern Irish visitors Ballymena Academy a superb performance ahead of our live stream of their game against Ipswich at Sixways Stadium this Wednesday evening.
On Saturday attention turned to another visitor to England from across the Irish Sea, Blackrock College from Dublin, who were in action at NextGenXV Schools Rugby Table leaders Clifton College in one of the most hotly anticipated game of the season in front of the NextGenXV Live Streaming cameras, and you can watch it again below. Clifton College built a 6-0 lead through two Eamonn Rogers penalties in the first half, but with the final play of the half Blackrock hit back with a brilliantly worked James O’Sullivan try. That sent the sides into half time with Clifton leading 6-5, but O’Sullivan was back at it shortly after the break to put his side into the lead, and from there the Irish side put in a defensive masterclass as part of a performance that was described as their best of the season, with further scores coming from Jack Angulo, Conor Tonge, and Louie Dignam for a stunning 32-6 victory.
Elsewhere on Saturday surely the standout scoreline was an epic 29-29 draw between Stamford and Oakham. It was an incredible derby game, and a thrilling draw, the first time all season that Oakham have failed to win, but more importantly a brilliant result for Stamford, who have had a real habit of stepping up against the best sides around this season. A truly magnificent game of rugby.
Speaking of the best around, Harrow are surely that, and on Saturday they showed it again with another outstanding victory, this time heading to Bedford and sealing a brilliant 43-17 victory to maintain their unbeaten record. With Epsom College on Saturday and Trinity in the Cup on Thursday 8th, their season is heading towards and almighty crescendo.
Another that is clearly among the best are Sedbergh, and they were up against a King’s Macclesfield side that has put themselves in that mix too with an unbeaten season to date. King’s gave it everything and caused Sedbergh problems, but in the end Sedbergh had just a bit too much as they sealed a 46-20 victory. King’s should take great heart though, they have been having a storming season and this was always going to be the most challenging game of it.
Rugby School were back to their best with a close but impressive victory on Saturday over a Warwick side that has been tearing up trees of late. It ended 24-17 to Rugby, who now face Cheltenham College and Framlingham College in what could be a blockbuster finish to 2022 ahead of a very special 2023.
Brighton College meanwhile confirmed their recent form with a superb 26-17 victory over The Judd. Last week The Judd ran Trinity incredibly close, closer than any other side this season, that tells you something about the magnitude of this result from Brighton College.
The final two games of our Ten to Watch were the two Scottish Schools Cup semi finals, Stewart’s Melville v Edinburgh Academy and Strathallan v Merchiston Castle. Last year’s final saw Merchiston Castle beat Stewart’s Melville 20-7, so there was a chance of a repeat of that final and Merchiston Castle did their bit to do that, winning an incredibly tight game against Strathallan 19-14. Stewart’s Melville, who have reached the last two finals, couldn’t do the same though as Edinburgh Academy won another tight on there 26-19 to set up that Scottish Schools Cup Final at the home of Scottish rugby, BT Murrayfield, on Wednesday 7thDecember.
Hartpury Bulls 15-17 Millfield
Latymer Upper 22-24 UCS
Friday had a couple of crackers, Millfield sent a young side to take on the young Hartpury College Bulls and a cracker broke out, with the two sides almost inseparable but Millfield just edged it for a 17-15 victory. Meanwhile in London there was a similarly close game at Latymer Upper, where UCS just edged it, 24-22.
AKS Lytham 24-22 Hutton Grammar
Altrincham Grammar 0-35 Stockport Grammar
Bablake & King Henry VIII 24-19 Loughborough Grammar
Bedford Modern 25-12 Campion
Bishop’s Stortford College 17-24 Gresham’s
Bradford Grammar 17-12 Harrogate Grammar
Bromsgrove 17-19 Marlborough College
Cathedral School, Llandaff 18-5 Wellington School
Cheltenham College 49-3 Sherborne
Christ’s Hospital 12-31 Churcher’s College
Claremont Fan Court 7-56 City of London Freemen’s
Coopers’ Coborn 0-44 Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar
Culford 27-17 Langley
Dame Allan’s 5-27 Newcastle School for Boys
Dundee High 5-26 George Heriot’s (Scottish Schools Plate SF)
Eastbourne College 31-5 Caterham
Ellesmere College 17-27 St Anselm’s College
Eltham College 15-19 Skinners’
Emanuel 17-26 KCS Wimbledon
Eton College 31-7 Dulwich College
Exeter 7-7 Colston’s
Fettes College 24-27 Loretto
Hampton 21-32 Cranleigh
Hayes 6-17 Skinners’
John Fisher 25-24 St Benedict’s
KES Southampton Triangular: KES 22-0 Ryde, Ryde 14-7 Warminster
KES Stratford 10-5 Wellingborough
Kingswood 36-17 QEH
Lancaster RGS 33-7 Cheadle Hulme
Maidstone Grammar 22-10 Dartford Grammar
Manchester Grammar 68-10 Wilmslow High
Merchant Taylors’, Crosby 7-31 Kirkham Grammar 2nd XV
Mount St Mary’s College 24-19 Stonyhurst
Old Swinford Hospital 34-17 King’s Worcester
Oundle 29-5 Uppingham
Portsmouth Grammar 31-26 Bishop Wordsworth’s
Princethorpe College 7-10 KES Birmingham
Queen’s College, Taunton 0-51 Plymouth College
Radley College 13-5 Tonbridge
Ratcliffe College 14-36 Nottingham High
Reed’s 15-8 Merchant Taylors’, Northwood
Rendcomb College 26-40 Clifton High
RGS Guildford 31-22 Abingdon
RGS High Wycombe 32-0 St Edward’s, Oxford
Robert Gordon’s College 0-55 Dollar Academy
Sir Joseph Williamson’s 3-21 Gravesend Grammar
Sir Thomas Rich’s 17-3 The Crypt
St Albans 12-16 Mill Hill
St Paul’s 17-0 The Oratory
Taunton 10-14 King’s College, Taunton
The Leys 26-31 Norwich
The Perse 17-24 Samuel Whitbread Academy
Trent College 24-35 Solihull
Truro School 15-14 Mount Kelly
Wallington County Grammar 10-19 Wimbledon College
Watford Grammar 10-17 Richard Hale
Whitgift 19-20 Haileybury
Wisbech Grammar 25-22 Worksop College
Woodhouse Grove 31-19 Hymers College
Worth 5-22 Gordon’s
Elsewhere on Saturday it was just a superb day, with some games that were decided by the tightest of margins, such as a very impressive close effort from Marlborough College and Bromsgrove, that saw them emerge as 19-17 victors.
One of the games of the day though was surely John Fisher v St Benedict’s, that saw John Fisher trailing in the final play of the game, having conceded late, only to dramatically clinch victory 25-24, the most exciting and dramatic of finishes and a real testament to the spirit of the John Fisher group.
That was not the only dramatic game in Croydon though, because John Fisher’s great rivals Whitgift suffered the reverse fate as Haileybury came from behind to claim their most impressive and momentous result of the season, beating the three time Schools Cup champions 20-19 to head into December with more than a little spring in their step, a truly magnificent outcome for the Hertfordshire side.
Another side putting in their performance of the season and earning their result of the season from it were Cranleigh, who headed to high-flying Hampton and came away with an exceptional 32-21 victory. Similarly in Northamptonshire there was a result of the season for Oundle against their great rivals Uppingham, a commanding 29-5 victory.
The South West had some absolute crackers on Saturday, Exeter School and Collegiate holding each other to a 7-7 draw, with Truro School just edged out Mount Kelly 15-14. The Taunton derby was epic too, King’s College, Taunton just nudging ahead of hosts Taunton School 14-10.
Bradford Grammar and Harrogate Grammar have both been outstanding this season and that was in evidence on Saturday in a great game between the two that just went the way of Bradford Grammar, 17-12. Mount St Mary’s College were also in action and keeping their momentum up but were challenged well by a Stonyhurst side that is playing good rugby, Mount St Mary’s winning it by 5 points, 24-19.
Radley College turned around their defeat at Tonbridge from earlier in the season, hosting the Kent side this time and winning a really tight one 13-5. Over at RGS High Wycombe the hosts put in a top performance for a 32-0 victory over St Edward’s Oxford, while in Windsor Eton College continue their strong season with an excellent 31-7 victory over Dulwich College.
Few are having a stronger season than RGS Guildford though, who claimed another impressive and exciting victory on Saturday as they hosted Abingdon and sealed a 31-22 victory. Similarly Eastbourne College are in fantastic form and displayed that again on Saturdya with an excellent 31-5 victory over Caterham. In a similar vein, Hertford’s Richard Hale have been fantastic this season and signed off their season in style with yet another victory as they travelled to Watford Grammar and claimed a 17-10 victory. Not too far away Mill Hill had a day to remember at St Albans, winning a really tight one 16-11.
Solihull and Trent College played a real classic on Saturday, Solihull heading to Trent and finishing on the right side of the scoreboard, 35-24. Things were similar in Cambridge, where Norwich were at The Leys and sealed a thrilling 31-26 victory. Along the road things were even tighter between Wisbech Grammar and Worksop College, Wisbech emerging victorious 25-22.
One of the performances of the day without question came at Cheltenham College, who hosted Sherborne in what is usually a very close game. On Saturday though Cheltenham College were utterly sensational, winning 49-3 to head into December with massive confidence.
Elsewhere in the South West Plymouth College were in similar form, winning 51-0 at Queen’s College Taunton, while Kingswood were 36-17 victors over QEH. Over in Wales Cathedral School Llandaff were in action against Wellington School and put in a strong display for an 18-5 victory.
Sir Thomas Rich’s continue to impress, beating The Crypt 17-3, while Clifton High won 40-26 in a high scoring game at Rendcomb College. Along the South Coast Portsmouth Grammar, who have been rapidly climbing the NextGenXV Schools Rugby Table of late, won an epic contest with Bishop Wordsworth’s, 31-26. KES Southampton meanwhile performed well as they hosted a triangular with Ryde and Warminster.
In Surrey Reed’s just edged out Merchant Taylors’ 15-8, while Gordon’s were in strong form at a Worth side that has been playing well, winning 22-5. Churcher’s College meanwhile were 31-12 victors at Christ’s Hospital. Kent saw Maidstone Grammar on song, beating Dartford Grammar 22-10, while Gravesend Grammar won 21-3 at Sir Joseph Williamson’s, and Wimbledon College were 19-10 victors at Wallington County Grammar.
London saw plenty of crackers, not least a tense 26-17 victory for KCS Wimbledon at Emanuel, or Skinners’ impressive 19-15 victory at Eltham College, and a 17-6 victory at Hayes. St Paul’s were meanwhile in strong form against The Oratory, 17-0, and there was a sensational performance from City of London Freemen’s, 56-7 over Claremont Fan Court.
To the East of the capital, Chislehurst & Sidcup were sensational at Coopers’ Coborn, winning 44-0, while in Suffolk Culford impressed in a 27-17 victory over Langley. Samuel Whitbread Academy travelled to Cambridge to take on The Perse and won a thriller 24-17, while in Bishop’s Stortford Gresham’s won a tight one over Bishop’s Stortford College 24-17.
Bedford Modern continue to impress, on Saturday winning 25-12 against Campion, while heading West Bablake & King Henry VIII won a tight one over Loughborough Grammar, 24-19. Nottingham High were on song at Ratcliffe College, 36-14, while KES Birmingham were in an incredibly tight and tense one with Princethorpe College, just edging their hosts 10-7.
Old Swinford Hospital were in great form, as they have been for much of the season, winning 34-17 against King’s Worcester, while KES Stratford were in a tighter one with Wellingborough, winning 10-5. Further North St Anselm’s College were in form at Ellesmere College, winning a good game 27-17.
Lancaster RGS have been good all year and were against on Saturday for a 33-7 defeat of Cheadle Hulme, but it was Manchester Grammar grabbing headlines with a stunning 68-10 defeat of Wilmslow High. Kirkham Grammar had another side out on Saturday, this group winning 31-7 at Merchant Taylors’, while Stockport Grammar were impressive at Altrincham Grammar, winning 35-0. Game of the day in the region though was surely AKS Lytham v Hutton Grammar, while ended 24-22 in the hosts’ favour.
Over in Yorkshire Woodhouse Grove were on song, once again, beating a strong Hymers College side 31-19, while further North Newcastle School for Boys enjoyed an impressive 27-5 display at Dame Allan’s.
In Scotland there was a thriller at Fettes College, with Loretto just falling on the right side of things 27-24, meanwhile Dollar Academy were sensational at Robert Gordon’s College, 55-0, and George Heriot’s booked their place in the Scottish Schools Plate final with a strong 26-5 victory at Dundee High.
Still to Come:
Bancroft’s v RGS Colchester
Calday Grange Gramar v Lymm High – Friday
Colfe’s v St Olave’s Grammar
Morrison’s Academy v Knox Academy (Scottish Schools Bowl SF)
St Paul’s 2nd XV v Fulham Boys