On Saturday 25th March the Rugby School International U18 7s begins, a two-day tournament celebrating 200 years of Rugby Football.
The tournament is a key part of the bicentenary celebrations, which earlier in the year saw the launch of The Global Pass and will also see tournaments at U9, U11, Vets, and plenty more besides, and builds on the international 7s tournament in 2017, which celebrated Rugby School’s 450th anniversary.
South Africa’s Hilton College won that competition, beating England’s Clifton College 22-7 in the final. However, 2023 South Africa are instead represented by Michaelhouse, but Clifton College will return as part of a five strong English schools contingent that also includes Marlborough College, Mount St Mary’s College, Uppingham, and, of course, the hosts, Rugby School.
In total twenty schools are competing over the two days, with the group stages taking place on Saturday before things really hot up on Sunday with Championship Pools and Bowl Pools in the morning before the afternoon knockout stages.
NextGenXV will be live streaming every single game from the Rugby School International U18 7s all from the famous home of the game, The Close. The Close consists of two pitches, Old Bigside (Pitch 1) and Pontines (Pitch 2). The whole tournament will be played out on those two pitches, with NextGenXV broadcasting from both, all games will be available on the NextGenXV YouTube channel, as well as being available embedded later in this article.
Along with the five English schools, the UK and Ireland are represented by a further nine schools, Fettes College, Merchiston Castle, and Strathallan from Scotland, Llandovery College, Monmouth, and Whitchurch High from Wales, Campbell College and the Royal Belfast Academical Institution from Northern Ireland, and the famous Blackrock College of the Republic of Ireland.
Six teams arrive from around the rest of the world, New Zealand’s Nelson College, Australia’s St Kevin’s College, Chile’s The Grange, Shawnigan Lake from Canada, Japan’s Waseda High School, and the aforementioned Michaelhouse from South Africa.
The competition is set to be fierce; all 20 sides possess plenty of exciting talent and strong rugby histories, but among the teams are some real gems from 2022. Clifton College were without doubt one of the very best in England in 2022, however one of their toughest assignments came in late November against Ireland’s Blackrock College, who demonstrated just how good they can be – as you can see in the replay of the game below – another meeting at Rugby School between those two could be spectacular.
Nelson College are one of the very best in New Zealand, winners of the 2022 Miles Toyota Championship, and also claiming a 4th successive annual Quadrangular Tournament victory. They are going to be a key side.
Speaking of title-winning pedigree, RBAI recently won the 2023 Ulster Schools’ Cup, beating Campbell College 20-17 in the final. Another meeting between those two could be thrilling. Likewise, Merchiston Castle are the reigning Scottish Schools Cup champions after their victory over Edinburgh Academy at Murrayfield in December.
Llandovery College picked up silverware in the finals day of the Welsh Schools & Colleges League back in December too. Meanwhile in Australia St Kevin’s College won 8 from 8 in a glorious unbeaten season.
At every turn, quality oozes through the tournament.
For all that though, this tournament is not just about the competitiveness of the teams, though competitive it will most definitely be, it is about far more than that. It is about the very essence of the game itself, sportsmanship, enjoyment, friendships, and rivalry. As important, if not more so, than the on-field experience for players and staff will be that off-field experience, the hand of friendship and the celebration of the game itself.
200 years ago, William Webb Ellis caught that ball and set off, now twenty new groups of players pick up that legacy and demonstrate just how far and wide this wonderful game has spread, the joy that it has carried around the world with it, and the bonds that remain through the game amongst players of all nations and teams.
A unique and special weekend of Rugby 7s awaits, and what better place or occasion could there possibly be.
Rugby School International U18 7s Schedule (Live Stream Links Included)
Day 1 – Saturday 25th March
Pitch 1 (Old Bigside)
10.40am Rugby School v Fettes College (Pool A)
11am Marlborough College v Campbell College (Pool C)
11.20am Monmouth v St Kevin’s (Pool A)
11.40am Strathallan v Nelson College (Pool C)
12pm Clifton College v Shawnigan Lake (Pool B)
12.20pm Uppingham v Waseda High (Pool D)
12.40pm RBAI v Merchiston Castle (Pool B)
1pm Blackrock College v Llandovery College (Pool D)
1.20pm The Grange v St Kevin’s (Pool A)
1.40pm Mount St Mary’s College v Nelson College (Pool C)
2pm Rugby v Monmouth (Pool A) 2.20pm Marlborough College v Strathallan (Pool C)
2.40pm RBAI v Shawnigan Lake (Pool B)
3pm Blackrock College v Waseda High (Pool D)
3.20pm Whitchurch High v Clifton College (Pool B)
3.40pm Michaelhouse v Uppingham (Pool D)
4pm Monmouth v The Grange (Pool A)
4.20pm Strathallan v Mount St Mary’s College (Pool C)
4.40pm Fettes College v St Kevin’s College (Pool A)
4.40pm Campbell College v Nelson College (Pool C)
Pitch 2 (Pontines)
10.40am Clifton College v RBAI (Pool B)
11am Uppingham v Blackrock College (Pool D)
11.20am Merchiston Castle v Whitchurch High (Pool B)
11.40am Llandovery College v Michaelhouse Pool D)
12pm Rugby School v The Grange (Pool A)
12.20pm Marlborough College v Mount St Mary’s College (Pool C)
12.40pm Fettes College v Monmouth (Pool A)
1pm Campbel College v Strathallan (Pool C)
1.20pm Whitchurch High v Shawnigan Lake (Pool B)
1.40pm Waseda High v Michaelhouse (Pool D)
2pm Clifton College v Merchiston Castle (Pool B)
2.20pm Uppingham v Llandovery College (Pool D)
2.40pm Fettes College v The Grange (Pool A)
3pm Campbell College v Mount St Mary’s College (Pool C)
3.20pm St Kevin’s College v Rugby (Pool A)
3.40pm Nelson College v Marlborough College (Pool C)
4pm Merchiston Castle v Shawnigan Lake (Pool B)
4.20pm Llandovery College v Waseda High (Pool D)
4.40pm RBAI v Whitchurch High (Pool B)
5pm Blackrock College v Michaelhouse (Pool D)
Top 3 in each Pool qualify for the Day 2 Championship Pools, fourth and fifth to the Day 2 Bowl Pools.
Day 2 – Sunday 26th March
Pitch 1 (Old Bigside)
9am Winner Pool A v 3rd Pool D (Championship)
9.20am Winner Pool C v 3rd Pool B (Championship)
9.40am 4th Pool A v 4th Pool C (Bowl)
10am 5th Pool D v 5th Pool B (Bowl)
10.20am 3rd Pool C v 2nd Pool D (Championship)
10.40am 3rd Pool A v 2nd Pool C (Championship)
11am 4th Pool B v 5th Pool C (Bowl)
11.20am 4th Pool D v 5th Pool A (Bowl)
11.40am Winner Pool A v 2nd Pool B (Championship)
12pm Winner Pool C v 2nd Pool A (Championship)
12.20pm 4th Pool A v 5th Pool B (Bowl)
12.40pm 4th Pool C v 5th Pool D (Bowl)
1pm Championship Quarter Final 1
1.20pm Championship Quarter Final 2
1.40pm Championship Quarter Final 3
2pm Championship Quarter Final 4
2.20pm 9th/10th Play Off
2.40pm Championship Semi Final 1
3pm Championship Semi Final 2
3.20pm 15th/16th Play Off
3.40pm 3rd/4th Play Off
4pm Plate Final
4.20pm Championship Final
Pitch 2 (Pontines)
9am Winner Pool B v 3rd Pool C (Championship)
9.20am Winner Pool D v 3rd Pool A (Championship)
9.40am 4th Pool B v 4th Pool D (Bowl)
10am 5th Pool C v 5th Pool A (Bowl)
10.20am 3rd Pool D v 2nd Pool B (Championship)
10.40am 3rd Pool B v 2nd Pool A (Championship)
11am 4th Pool A v 5th Pool D (Bowl)
11.20am 4th Pool C v 5th Pool B (Bowl)
11.40am Winner Pool B v 2nd Pool D (Championship)
12pm Winner Pool D v 2nd Pool C (Championship)
12.20pm 4th Pool B v 5th Pool A (Bowl)
12.40pm 4th Pool D v 5th Pool C (Bowl)
1pm 9th/12th Play Off Semi
1.20pm 9th/12th Play Off Semi
1.40pm 19th/20th Play Off
2pm 17th/18th Play Off
2.20pm 11th/12th Play Off
2.40pm Plate Semi Final 1
3pm Plate Semi Final 2
3.20pm 13th/14th Play Off (Bowl Final)
3.40pm 7th/8th Play Off
Rugby School International U18 7s Draw
Rugby School (England)
Fettes College (Scotland)
St Kevin’s College (Australia)
The Grange (Chile)
Clifton College (England)
RBAI (Northern Ireland)
Merchiston Castle (Scotland)
Whitchurch High (Wales)
Shawnigan Lake (Canada)
Marlborough College (England)
Campbell College (Northern Ireland)
Nelson College (New Zealand)
Mount St Mary’s College (England)
Blackrock College (Republic of Ireland)
Llandovery College (Wales)
Michaelhouse (South Africa)
Waseda High (Japan)