This Thursday at 2.15pm comes surely the game of the season as Harrow and Trinity go head to head in an U18 Schools Cup quarter final for the ages.
The ‘game of the season’ tagline has been used a few times this year, but only because this extraordinary season seems to just keep giving and giving as it heads towards a crescendo beyond all belief.
Thursday’s encounter pits arguably the top two in the country this year head to head, certainly two of the top five by anyone’s measure, the reigning Schools Cup champions Trinity heading to the newly crowned Daily Mail Trophy champions, Harrow. NextGenXV will be brining you the game LIVE and you will be able to watch it on our YouTube Channel, on our TikTok Channel, and embedded below.
As well as a place in the semi finals being up for grabs, Thursday represents a chance for the winners to very firmly be able to claim to be the best around this year, and will also have a heavy influence on the top of the NextGenXV Schools Rugby Table, which on Tuesday you will see has a new leader and by Thursday evening will likely see one of these two being uncatchable.
Somehow though, you suspect that neither of these sides will be thinking about such off-field matters, the likelihood is that the on-field history between them is going to be the harder thought to shake. Back in 2019/20 these two met at this very same stage as U15s. A late penalty try earned Harrow victory that day (watch the highlights from that classic below) and Harrow might well have gone on to lift the Trophy only to go out in the semis as the away side before Covid ended the competition early.
Trinity were hurt by that late penalty try and will remember it well, so too Harrow though who will still be hurting that the word controversy has ever been used around it, they will want to show on the field that it was the right result.
That’s the U6th year groups, but the L6th have their own recent history against each other too. Back in March Harrow beat Trinity in the semi finals of the Colts competition at the Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s, a tournament the current Harrow U6th won as U14s in 2019, while Trinity’s 2022 leavers were laying the foundations for this extraordinary side with their U15 Schools Plate title.
In many ways though, all of that is ancient history, this game is about the here and now, and what a here and now it is. Both sides are extraordinary, they are both unbeaten in full games and have seen off some of the best teams and biggest names in all of schools rugby.
Wellington College, Whitgift, Tonbridge, and Dulwich College are among Harrow’s conquests, indeed their 21-15 victory at Wellington College on the opening day of the season really set the tone for the term.
In the Cup they have been exceptional, putting 70 past St Benedict’s and then earning victory over Berkhamsted, whose Daily Mail Trophy crown they took over the weekend. They saved the best for the last in the Cup though, an extraordinary 45-5 victory over Hampton that sent shockwaves around the schools rugby scene, a tight encounter was expected, with Hampton at that point unbeaten, Harrow had other ideas.
Trinity have been equally goof though, Cranleigh, Brighton College, Dulwich College, and Whitgift all among their vanquished sides. Likes Harrow they started with a bang, 55-10 against Cranleigh and they haven’t looked back since.
In the Cup they have been truly stunning, 55-5 against three time champions Dulwich College, 40-15 against local rivals and another three time champion, Whitgift, and then in the last round a tough and gritty victory over The Judd, 24-22, who arrived unbeaten, exceptional, and looking for their biggest win in a decade. Trinity overcame that emotional onslaught and kept on going. Unbeaten, exceptional.
They also went to their first ever St Joseph’s Festival in October, where games are 20 minutes long, with six games over 2 days, and intense whirlwind of rugby. They reached the final, going down by a mere 8-0 to a Millfield side claiming their record 8th title.
So these two are extraordinary, and reading in any sort of difference between them feels near impossible, they have four common opponents, Dulwich College, Whitgift, Hampton, and Eton College. Both had big victories over Dulwich, Trinity were the more dominant against Whitgift, Harrow the more dominant against Hampton, and broadly even against Eton College.
The only way of separating them is to see it play out on the field. What an awesome conclusion to the terms rugby, arguably the two best in the country going head to head in a knockout contest that will be taken notice of around the world.
Game of the season, indeed.
Cup Runs to Date:
R1: 70-5 at St Benedict’s
R2: 32-23 v Berkhamsted
R3: 45-5 at Hampton
R1: 55-5 v Dulwich College
R2: 40-15 at Whitgift
R3: 24-22 at The Judd
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