If the opening weekend of the schools rugby season was special, this second weekend was another level up again with some stunning games of rugby and some absolutely extraordinary performances.
Both Friday and Saturday saw some absolutely superb contests, while our three live streamed games provided some utterly breathtaking action. For some sides it was their first game of the season, starting a week later than others, and those sides seemed to absolutely fly out of the blocks.
The only negative of the weekend was maybe a few more one-sided games that would normally be the case, most like as a result of it being so early in the season and therefore the relative levels of teams, and therefore the ability to select accordingly, not yet quite apparent.
However there were also dozens of games that were incredibly tight, right down to just a score between the sides, often just a point or two, tension was to the fore right across the country.
The country saw some real performances too, sides that might be knocking around the upper echelons of the game this year made statement performances and put the watching schools rugby world on notice. We are in for a glorious season of rugby, and below is how this weekend unfolded.
Ten to Watch
Friday night saw one of the great early season performances as Ipswich hosted Northampton School for Boys at Bury St Edmunds RFC and put in an absolutely stunning display in front of the NextGenXV live streaming cameras. You can watch the game again below, where Ipswich swashbuckled their way to a 52-19 victory in what was their first competitive game of the season – against an NSB side that had given Wellington College a good game the week before. Connor Holdcroft and Edoardo Todaro in particular were simply sensational in the backline, with a display of speed and guile that was near impossible to stop.
Also of Friday was an absolute cracker in Clifton as one of England’s best, Clifton College, hosted one of Wales’ best, Llandovery College. It could have gone any way, an absolutely magnificent game of rugby as both sides showed some wonderful touches. In the end though it was the hosts that took the victory, winning 26-24. Clifton College will be live streamed on NextGenXV this Thursday evening as they hosts Millfield in the Ryan Bresnahan Memorial game, see link below, and on Saturday Millfield had to pull out a stunner of a second half to arrive at that one with some momentum. Blundell’s were flying on the Sir Gareth Edwards pitch, taking a 20-0 half time lead, but I the second half they came roaring back to win 29-20 and leaving the mouth watering ahead of Thursday night’s encounter.
Elsewhere on Saturday we were treated to some spectacular games, and there was a bit of added spice to a couple of them. Sedbergh don’t lose at home, nobody bar Millfield had beaten them at home in six years until Denstone College did so last year. In a quirk of the fixture list, the two met on Buskhome again this year and Sedbergh were in no mood to let it happen two years running. Putting in a brilliant display, including some wonderful tries that have done the rounds on social media, for a 38-12 victory. In a similar pattern, last year Tonbridge School had suffered a rare defeat to town rivals The Judd. The state school had triumphed against the might of one of the most prestigious public schools around. Saturday saw them meet again and Tonbridge were not going to let the past repeat itself, putting in a fantastic display to win 32-5 and bouncing back brilliantly from a tough opener against Brighton College.
Saturday also saw two live streamed games, the first of which was a very special game as Wellington College hosted Whitgift in support of Seb’s Foundation, which was set up in the wake of the tragic death of Seb Adeniran-Olule in 2016, the foundation was established in 2016 to foster hope and inclusion, by using the power and positivity of sport and education to remove barriers and enable young people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds to fulfil their ambitions and flourish. In last year’s fixture Wellington College claimed victory in dramatic fashion, 29-28 at Whitgift, on Saturday the sun was shining, the shorts were on, and we got the rugby to match the weather as both sides played some wonderful stuff. Whitgift gave as good as they got, with some fantastic rugby, but Wellington College were simply too clinical and the try scoring and place kicking brilliance of full back Inigo Langford was too much to contain as they claimed a 43-26 victory, which you can relive below.
Saturday’s other game live on NextGenXV was Rugby School v Bedford, the continuation of 200 years celebrating Rugby Football, which sees every Rugby School game live streamed this season. Both sides arrived looking to bounce back from narrow defeats last time out, and it played out like that in the first half in a really tight game that went into the break deadlocked at 12-12. The key part of the game though came in the opening ten minutes of the second half where a penalty and a try took Bedford to a 20-12 lead. Rugby did score to narrow the gap back down to a point but a stunning Agbenu try for Bedford restored their advantage of over a converted score to 27-19, which they held onto until the end of the game for a famous victory on The Close.
In Yorkshire Woodhouse Grove made a real statement in a hard earned 24-10 victory over Barnard Castle, their first game of the season and a real test after a strong performance from Barnard Castle last week. With big games against St Joseph’s College, RGS Newcastle, and Harrogate Grammar to come, Woodhouse Grove are going to be full of confidence.
In the South East of England there were two incredibly interesting fixtures in our Ten to Watch. Epsom College and Seaford College had both really impressed in the opening weekend of the season, and on Saturday met in a much anticipated clash. Both sides gave it everything and the game had so much quality rugby to it. In the end the home side took it, 34-26, but both sides are going to have some real highs this season. Over in Croydon Cranleigh backed up a statement pre-season victory last week with a statement victory on Saturday at Trinity, the 2022 Continental Tyres Schools Cup champions and NextGenXV Schools Rugby Table winners, and 2023 Continental Tyres Schools Cup finalists. Such history was no problem for Cranleigh, who have a sizeable chunk of their own, as they put on an outstanding display for a 33-12 away win that will have people across the country taking note.
Ten to Watch Results
Clifton College 26-24 Llandovery College (Friday)
Epsom College 34-26 Seaford College
Ipswich 52-19 Northampton School for Boys – Live Streamed (Friday)
Millfield 29-20 Blundell’s
Rugby 19-27 Bedford – 200 years of Rugby Football – Live Streamed
Sedbergh 38-12 Denstone College
The Judd 5-32 Tonbridge
Trinity 12-33 Cranleigh
Wellington College 43-26 Whitgift – Live Streamed
Woodhouse Grove 24-10 Barnard Castle
Friday 15th September
Alongside the action at Bury St Edmunds and Clifton on Friday night was a special game at Esher RFC, where Brighton College and Hampton met in the Peter Bellenger Memorial game, the former Brighton College who sadly passed away last year from MND. Funds were raised for MND research off the field, while on the field Brighton College showed continued their fine start to the season, following up last week’s victory over Tonbridge with a hard-earned 21-7 victory.
Things were really tight between Caterham and KCS Wimbledon, a game that really could have gone either way but Caterham worked unbelievably hard to just edge a 15-12 victory, while not too far away St George’s Weybridge had a superb Friday night as they fittingly celebrated 100 years of rugby at the school with a 26-0 victory over St Benedict’s. Haberdashers’ Adams had a cracking game with Oswestry, a low-scoring tight contest, that they just edged 14-7.
Brighton College 21-7 Hampton – at Esher RFC (Peter Bellenger Memorial)
Caterham 15-12 KCS Wimbledon
Oswestry 7-14 Haberdashers’ Adams
St George’s College, Weybridge 26-0 St Benedict’s
Saturday 16th September
Saturday saw some fantastically close game of rugby, nowhere more so than in the South West, where King’s Bruton and Clayesmore drew 17-17 in an absolute fantastic game of rugby. It was a part of the country that seemed to be absolutely littered with thrillingly tight games of rugby, including one absolutely stunning game at Prior Park College, where the hosts were just edged out by a mere three points, with Monkton Combe the side celebrating.
Cheltenham College were also celebrating a three point victory as they bounced back from a tight defeat last week to beat Monmouth 17-14. Things were even tighter at QEH where they were just held off by visitors Exeter School, 19-17, KES Bath meanwhile for a low scoring nail-biter at home to Dauntsey’s, 10-5.
Marlborough College and Canford meanwhile served up one of the games of the weekend, a stunning game that finished in Marlborough College’s favour but by just a single point, 27-26.
Over in Surrey there was another that was just as good as Reigate Grammar held off Wallington County Grammar in an epic, 28-26, another brilliant game on a weekend that saw sow many. Indeed the South East just had so much to be excited about, Worth, winning 25-22 over Sevenoaks, a great victory for the hosts, while Ravens Wood held off Brentwood 23-20 and Aylesbury Grammar gained a thrilling away victory at UCS, 22-19. Churcher’s College and Lord Wandsworth College also put on a show, barely separable but the hosts just claimed a memorable victory, 17-16.
Last week we saw Oundle earn a first away victory in five years, and on Saturday they repeated the trick in a stunning game of rugby at their great rivals Uppingham, winning for the first time at Uppingham since 2016 by a 23-20 margin. Not too far away Stowe won a cracking game too, holding off a spirited Abingdon side for a 26-22 victory to bounce back from defeat to Stamford last time out, while further West there was a close and fantastic 17-15 victory for Bloxham at King’s Worcester.
There were a couple of really good tight games in the North of the country as well, including Kirkham Grammar School just about managing to hold off a hugely impressive St Ambrose College performance to win 24-20. Meanwhile in Yorkshire Giggleswick and Ashville Harrogate went right down to the wire with hosts Giggleswick just holding out for a 7-5 victory.
Of course in any weekend there are some more dominant margins of victory, particularly in this early part of the season where understanding the level of your opposition is hard to gauge and therefore some of the jiggling around of starting XVs that we might see later in the season is not possible.
What we have seen though is that some sides are able to demonstrate that they really are on the map this season, and one such side is St Albans, who have just grown and grown in recent times and now have a side packed full of quality as they showed on Saturday with a fantastic victory away at a good Reading Blue Coat side, 66-19.
Not far from there The Oratory showed their quality as well in a truly sensational 52-0 victory over Shiplake College. Also in the area were St Edward’s Oxford, who prepared for their Live Stream here on NextGenXV this coming Friday night against Magdalen College with a fantastic performance away at Pangbourne College, a brilliant effort from Teddies for a 42-11 victory.
Harrow won an absolutely fantastic game against Clifton College last week, they were on the road this week at Dulwich College and once again they demonstrated their utter quality for a brilliant 45-12 victory to make it two from two.
They were far from the only side in the south east in flying form, Ryde were stunning, a 69-0 victory over Embley that will put many on notice, similarly a staggering performance from Coopers’ Coborn to win 61-5 at St Olave’s. Meanwhile in a slightly closer but still impressively dominant performance, Gravesend Grammar won 40-14 at Maidstone Grammar.
One of the most jaw-dropping of the weekend was a 73-3 victory for Bedford Modern at home to QES Barnet, Bedford Modern have started the season like a train. Meanwhile King’s Ely were also flying at home, 55-10 against Wisbech Grammar. There were two fantastic away performances in East Anglia as well, Norwich with a sensational performance to win 50-0 at Bishop’s Stortford College and The Perse winning 42-7 at Royal Hospital School.
Scotland saw some scorching performances as well, Strathallan were absolutely on fire in a 65-17 victory over Fettes College that will live long in the memory, similarly Balfron High away at Hutchesons’ Grammar, a sublime 57-7 effort. Slightly closer but potentially more significant in the context of the season was George Watson’s College’s 40-17 victory over Dollar Academy, George Watson’s are looking utterly formidable this season. Glasgow High were also formidable, beating St Aloysius’ College, one of their local rivals, 40-14.
The North of England saw some seriously significant performances as well not least in a quite magnificent Durham School performance, they have looked good this season and they showed it again on Saturday with a staggering 76-0 victory over Austin Friars. Along the road Mount St Mary’s College were in superb form away at Dame Allan’s, a quite brilliant 54-10 victory.
In Yorkshire St Peter’s York showed that last weekend’s performance was no flash in the pan as they sealed an outstanding 57-7 victory over Hymers College. Fellow Yorkshire men Grammar School at Leeds were in action on the other side of the Pennines at Cheadle Hulme but put in a cracker of a performance of themselves for a 41-5 victory.
The North West really saw three sides put the watching schools rugby world on notice. Lancaster RGS in particular as they beat RGS Newcastle 36-0, a performance to be extremely proud of. Stockport Grammar similarly, there were high expectations of them this year and early signs are that they are en route to fulfilling them with a 45-0 victory at home to Wilmslow High, while Stonyhurst were absolutely fantastic as well for a 54-19 victory over Bradford Grammar.
In the Midlands Oakham backed up last week’s victory over Rugby School with a seriously impressive victory on Doncaster Close against Old Swinford Hospital, 45-12, they really have started the season with a bang. One of the big stories of the Midlands though was Princethorpe College, who were jaw-droppingly impressive at home against Leicester Grammar for a 74-7 victory to remember.
There were a couple of standouts towards the south west too, Collegiate impressed hugely in a 40-17 victory over a good Malvern College side, while Bryanston were quite brilliant for their 45-6 victory over KES Southampton, a memorable Saturday for them. Warminster were brilliant too away at Wells Cathedral, winning by a very impressive 44-0 margin.
All around the country the games continued to throw out scores and reports that suggested another magical weekend of the school game. Kings Macclesfield, so good last year, back up last week’s tight victory with an impressive 27-13 victory at QEGS Wakefield, while also in Yorkshire Ampleforth College won a cracking game against Pocklington, 36-24, their first home game of the season.
Across to the North West there were a couple of thrillers, Sandbach winning 34-22 at Wirral Grammar, a really fantastic game, and Manchester Grammar winning a really tight on against Merchant Taylors’, 22-17.
Further South there was cause for celebration in Nottingham, Trent College winning an absolutely fantastic game of rugby at Loughborough Grammar, 33-28, a game that many will remember. Nottingham High School meanwhile were at home against Bablake in a really end to end game, winning 41-24. Elsewhere Wellingborough won 27-22 at Ratcliffe College, another top game.
Further East, Gresham’s were in brilliant form in Cambridge against The Leys for a 39-19 victory, while RGS Colchester held off Framlingham College with a strong 27-17 performance. Meanwhile New Hall travelled to Bishop’s Stortford High and earned an impressive 27-12 victory.
Hertfordshire saw some excellent games, and a really good performance from Berkhamsted, who bounced back from defeat last week for an impressive 29-12 victory over Warwick, one that should really set the platform for the season ahead. St George’s Harpenden did really well to hold off Richard Hale for a 24-19 victory.
London and the South East had plenty of entertainment, RGS Guildford travelled into the capital to Wimbledon College looking to bounce back from defeat last week and did so in no uncertain terms, winning 38-0. Elsewhere in the capital, Merchant Taylors’ were off to a good start, 32-17 over Watford Grammar, while St Richard Reynolds won 30-20 at Gunnersbury.
Kent was full of excitement, Sutton Valence and Eastbourne College put on a cracking game with Sutton Valence just winning out at home 26-19. King’s Canterbury have started the season well and won 20-14 against Cranbrook, while their 2nd XV beat 1st XV opposition in the from of Christ’s Hospital, 22-12. That was not the only 1st XV v 2nd XV action in Kent, Tonbridge 2nd XV won 39-5 at St Lawrence College. Meanwhile Chislehurst and Sidcup won a brilliantly competitive game with Si Joseph Williamson’s 26-21, with Dartford Grammar winning 21-7 against Langley Park, and Duke of York’s Royal Military impressing in a 32-19 victory over King’s Rochester.
Across in Sussex, Hurstpierpoint College really impressed in a fun game of rugby at home against Reed’s,winning 43-20. Meanwhile in Surrey RGS High Wycombe were on the road at St John’s Leatherhead and added to last week’s fantastic performance with another, winning 27-0. There was also a Triangular at Claremont, which was won by Dunnotar after a 12-0 win over the hosts and a 5-0 victory over Gordon’s 2ndXV, who had also beaten the hosts 14-0.
Out in Windsor, Eton College won one of those most famous of games around the world to continue their impressive start, a 31-12 victory over St Paul’s. Out towards the West Midlands and surrounds there were some fantastic games. Chief among them an absolute cracker at Bromsgrove that also doubled as a Continental Tyres Schools Cup encounter, with Sir Thomas Rich’s the visitors. It was a brilliant game, won impressively 37-22 by Bromsgrove, but look out for Tommies in the Plate, for sure. KES Birmingham were also in fantastic form en route to an exciting 45-22 victory over KES Stratford, and Pate’s Grammar look like a side to keep a quiet eye on this year, they won 18-5 at RGS Worcester.
Deeper West, King’s Gloucester were in derby mode against Wycliffe College, and they were also in performance mode, a brilliant 29-7 victory. Somerset meanwhile saw Wellington School win a cracker against West Buckland, 38-20, and King’s College Taunton put in a strong display for a 34-12 victory over Mount Kelly. Over in Dorset there was a strong outing in their first game of the season for visitors Radley College, they beat Sherborne by an impressive 30-10 margin.
Back in Scotland, Merchiston Castle had to work oh so had at Stewart’s Melville, who really impressed as well, but the visitors held firm for a 20-15 victory. Things were more dominant for Robert Gordon’s Collegewho won 50-29 against Morrison’s Academy, a cracking game, while Loretto were excellent away at Dundee High, 38-15.
Overall it was a fantastic weekend of schools rugby, a really glorious second week of the season and one that leaves so much promise for the weeks ahead. Schools rugby, it keeps on giving!
Ampleforth College 36-24 Pocklington
Bedford Modern 73-3 QES Barnet
Berkhamsted 29-12 Warwick
Bishop’s Stortford College 0-50 Norwich
Bishop’s Stortford HS 12-27 New Hall
Bromsgrove 37-22 Sir Thomas Rich’s
Bryanston 45-6 KES Southampton
Cheadle Hulme 5-41 Grammar School at Leeds
Cheltenham College 17-14 Monmouth
Chislehurst & Sidcup GS 26-21 Sir Joseph Williamson’s
Churcher’s College 17-16 Lord Wandsworth College
Claremont Triangular: Claremont, Dunottar, Gordon’s 2nd XV
Collegiate 40-17 Malvern College
Dame Allan’s 10-54 Mount St Mary’s College
Dartford GS 21-7 Langley Park
Duke of York’s RMS 32-19 King’s Rochester
Dulwich College 12-45 Harrow
Dundee HS 15-38 Loretto
Durham 76-0 Austin Friars
Eton College 31-12 St Paul’s
George Watson’s College 40-17 Dollar Academy
Giggleswick 7-5 Ashville Harrogate
Gunnersbury 20-30 St Richard Reynolds
Hurstpierpoint College 43-20 Reed’s
Hutchesons’ GS 7-57 Balfron High
KES Bath 10-5 Dauntsey’s
KES Birmingham 45-22 KES Stratford
King’s Bruton 17-17 Clayesmore
King’s Canterbury 20-14 Cranbrook
King’s Canterbury 2nd XV 12-22 Christ’s Hospital
King’s College, Taunton 34-12 Mount Kelly
King’s Ely 55-10 Wisbech GS
King’s Gloucester 29-7 Wycliffe College
King’s Worcester 15-17 Bloxham
Kirkham GS 24-20 St Ambrose College
Lancaster RGS 36-0 RGS Newcastle
Loughborough GS 28-33 Trent College
Maidstone GS 15-40 Gravesend GS
Manchester GS 22-17 Merchant Taylors’, Crosby
Marlborough College 27-26 Canford
Merchant Taylors’, Northwood 32-17 Watford GS
Mill Hill 43-17 Felsted
Nottingham HS 41-24 Bablake
Oakham 45-12 Old Swinford Hospital
Pangbourne College 11-42 St Edward’s, Oxford
Princethorpe College 74-7 Leicester GS
Prior Park College 28-31 Monkton Combe
QEGS Wakefield 13-27 King’s Macclesfield
QEH 17-19 Exeter
Ratcliffe College 22-27 Wellingborough
Ravens Wood 23-20 Brentwood
Reading Blue Coat 19-66 St Albans
Reigate GS 28-26 Wallington CGS
RGS Colchester 27-17 Framlingham College
RGS Worcester 5-18 Pate’s Grammar
Robert Gordon’s College 50-29 Morrison’s Academy
Royal Hospital School 7-42 The Perse
Ryde 69-0 Embley
Sherborne 10-30 Radley College
St Aloysius’ College 14-40 Glasgow HS
St George’s, Harpenden 24-19 Richard Hale
St John’s, Leatherhead 0-27 RGS High Wycombe
St Lawrence College 5-39 Tonbridge 2nd XV
St Olave’s GS 5-61 Coopers’ Coborn
St Peter’s, York 57-7 Hymers College
Stewart’s Melville 15-20 Merchiston Castle
Stockport GS 45-0 Wilmslow HS
Stonyhurst 54-19 Bradford GS
Stowe 26-22 Abingdon
Strathallan 65-17 Fettes College
Sutton Valence 26-19 Eastbourne College
The Leys 19-39 Gresham’s
The Oratory 52-0 Shiplake College
UCS 19-22 Aylesbury GS
Uppingham 20-23 Oundle
Wellington School 38-20 West Buckland
Wells Cathedral 0-44 Warminster
Wimbledon College 0-38 RGS Guildford
Wirral GS 22-34 Sandbach
Worth 25-22 Sevenoaks
Still to Come:
Altrincham GS v AKS Lytham
Bancroft’s v Colfe’s
Bolton v Crossley Heath
Kelvinside Academy v St Columba’s HS
Kingswood v Bristol GS
Langley v Wymondham College
Lymm HS v The Grange