Another huge weekend of schools rugby awaits us as we move into a key phase of the season, with just a handful of games remaining.
It’s the final leave/exeat weekend for many big boarding schools too, which means a busy Friday and a few of the usual suspect not on the Saturday list where ordinarily they might be, but it is still a weekend that is absolutely packed.
Ten to Watch
As always, our Ten to Watch leads this week’s preview off – a Ten to Watch that includes a LIVE game, two Friday Night games, and some classic schools rugby match-ups.
Berkhamsted v Haileybury
A Hertfordshire derby in which Haileybury are searching for their first victory since 2016. They will be eyeing this one up too, Berkhamsted have been in a tricky patch of recent form. However it is a sticky patch that followed an excellent start to the season, and if Berkhamsted can find that form they will feel confident. Both sides have had a bit of a propensity for high-scoring tight games this season, if we get more of the Saturday then those lining the touchlines are going to be in for an absolute treat.
Brighton College v Epsom College
This is a huge game, possibly the biggest obstacle in the way of unbeaten Brighton College completing the dream unbeaten season – though there is a long way to go yet. They have been absolutely superb and yet somehow slightly understated at the same time, but make no mistake, this is a superb Brighton side. This is an excellent Epsom College side too though, they held Ipswich to a 20-20 draw away from home in the Cup and, while they might have been knocked out on try count, that is harder than any side in the country has pushed the Suffolk side. This could be an outstanding game of rugby.
Churcher’s College v Halliford
These two sides have quietly been absolutely outstanding this season, and deserve huge credit. Churcher’s have only lost once this season, a 31-30 thriller against a Lord Wandsworth College side that they have also beaten once this season. That was in September, since then it has been an unblemished record. Halliford have been just as good, only a trip to Tiffin has got the better of them and, like Churcher’s, that was in September and since then it has been a string of superb performances. It should be a great game on Saturday and, most importantly, a chance for both to earn recognition for wonderful seasons.
Dulwich College v Tonbridge
A classic schools rugby fixture. Anyone listening to our podcast with Sam Howard earlier this season would know that ten years ago the Dulwich v Tonbridge fixture was a season defining one. It might not be at this phase of schools rugby’s evolution, but it is still a stand out game between two giants. Dulwich would love a big scalp to act as a real signal of their development, in a season where only Brighton and Harrow have beaten them, will not want any slip ups. A season that sees those two as the only sides that get the better of them will now be the aim, especially after such a strong performance against Harrow last time out.
Ipswich v Stowe – LIVE on NextGenXV – from BSE RFC, Friday, 7pm KO
Ipswich return to Bury St Edmunds RFC on Friday night, scene of their epic 52-19 season opener against Northampton School for Boys. Joining them this time are Stowe, who since half term have been involved exclusively in ridiculously tight game. Another on Friday would certainly go well in front of the LIVE cameras, and you will be able to watch the game on the NextGenXV YouTube Channel and through the embedded video below, there is also a detailed preview of the game here: Ipswich v Stowe Preview.
RGS Newcastle v Durham (Metcalfe Cup) – Friday – at Kingston Park
The annual head to head between RGS Newcastle and Durham takes place at Kingston Park this Friday night, with the Metcalfe Cup on the line. RGS have won the last nine fixtures between the two, a run stretching back to 2015 and that is not a record that they are about to give up lightly. They will have to be sharp though, defeat to Woodhouse Grove last week was the first of the season for Durham, who have also reached the Regional Final of the Continental Tyres Schools Vase, and they will not be in the mood to allow that to become a back to back scenario after such an outstanding season. RGS’ season has been harder, they are yet to win a game. You can be certain that they are going to be going all guns blazing for this one though, and they should take heart from the fact that they have been in games, four have been lost by five points or fewer. With this being a derby, and such a huge occasion, it stops being about form and starts being about the experience and how you respond to it. It ought to be an utterly magnificent occasion.
Stamford v Bedford
After a stunning start to the season, Stamford have had a tricky week, losing their unbeaten record on Saturday at Oundle and then missing out at Bromsgrove on Wednesday in the Continental Tyres Schools Cup regional final, albeit in an epic contest. They will want to get right back to winning ways on Saturday and to head towards a closing out of the season in style, however they will need to be at peak form as Bedford should be arriving in good spirits after a victory over Warwick just before half term was followed by avenging Cup defeat to Oakham with a victory over them last weekend. Definitely a game to keep an eye on.
Trinity v Hurstpierpoint College
Trinity were buoyant on Saturday after a 39-7 victory over Hampton really seemed to feel like they had found their stride after a difficult first half of them. They are going to need to be just as sharp on Saturday though as they welcome a Hurstpierpoint College side that is having one of their great seasons. At the time of writing they have only been beaten by the outstanding Brighton College, and are currently in a Continental Tyres Schools Cup Regional Final against maybe the best side in the country, Harrow. Win or lose that one, perhaps the key to this game will be how Hurstpierpoint College’s players recover. It is a tight two-day turnaround, Trinity will be hoping to capitalise on that.
Warwick v Northampton School for Boys
Warwick made a statement and a half last weekend when they travelled up to Sedbergh and secured a stunning 24-24 draw. It was a result that few saw coming after a season that has seen them secure just one victory, but it is also a result that should have them eyeing up the remainder of the season and thinking that anything is possible. The first challenge of that remainder of the season is a strong Northampton School for Boys side, who have had some great results this season including an excellent 32-19 victory over Berkhamsted last weekend. This is going to be one of the games of the weekend, with such interest in what’s to come after last week’s results.
Whitgift v St Paul’s
An all London affair between two schools that have had good weeks and bad this season. Whitgift arrive after a good victory at Dulwich College on Saturday but then a tough Continental Tyres Schools Plate 19-13 defeat at Campion in midweek – a sign perhaps of the quality of Campion as much as anything else. St Paul’s meanwhile have just the one victory, over RGS Guildford, but have had a habit of pushing sides close. Tonbridge, who came as close as anyone to beating Harrow last week, only got past them by four points. They are a tough nut to crack, which of course should make for an outstanding game of rugby on Saturday afternoon.
A fantastic Friday of schools rugby awaits us, with seven big games to go alongside the two in our Ten to Watch. Havant RFC will play host to Seaford College v Canford, with Seaford College playing some great rugby right now, making it one to watch closely.
Dartford Valley RFC sees Hayes and Sevenoaks go head to head in a game that form suggests should be a brilliant contest, while over at Westcliff RFC, Westcliff High School will be hosting New Hall.
In Hertfordshire St Albans will seek to continue this remarkable unbeaten season when they host Bishop’s Stortford High School. Meanwhile in Bristol, Bristol Grammar School host a King’s Gloucester side that is having their best season in recent, and not so recent, memory, while at Camp Hill RFC, KES Camp Hill are the guests of the club’s U18 side.
Finally on Friday at Penrith RUFC, Dame Allan’s will welcome Yorkshire Giggleswick for what should be a wonderful occasion and a cracking game of rugby.
Bristol GS v King’s Gloucester
Camp Hill RFC v KES Camp Hill
Dame Allan’s v Giggleswick – at Penrith RUFC
Hayes v Sevenoaks – Dartford Valley RFC
New Hall v Westcliff HS – Westcliff RFC
Seaford College v Canford – at Havant RFC
St Albans v Bishop’s Stortford HS
It is a busy day on Saturday, with some great fixtures all over the country to run alongside those already picked out in our Ten to Watch.
Starting in Devon, where Exeter School will be looking to build on an absolutely outstanding performance last weekend when they host a strong Wellington School side in what promises to be an outstanding game of rugby. Along the road, Mount Kelly will be welcoming West Buckland in another that should be absolutely superb.
Somerset is, as ever, full of good games as Kingswood host KES Bath in one of the best. Only Monmouth have got the better of Kingswood and few have beaten KES either, setting up for a classic that both sets of players have been looking forward to for a long time. Prior Park College meanwhile have a massive game against Collegiate, that’s one that is not to be missed, while King’s Bruton host Monkton Combe, and Downside host a Wycliffe College side in a game that should be a great spectacle. Travelling from Somerset, meanwhile, are King’s College Taunton, who head to Bristol to take on QEH. Dorset, meanwhile, sees two sides playing some great rugby go head to head, Clayesmore and Dauntsey’s.
In Gloucestershire The Crypt host Pate’s Grammar, and look out of the game at Dean Close, who have been superb this year. They welcome Wales’ Monmouth, who have been utterly outstanding, in what is sure to be one of the games of the weekend. Over in Wales there is another terrific game as Cathedral School Llandaff and Christ College go head to head in a huge game.
Back across the border, Hereford Cathedral School travel to Worcestershire to take on Malvern College, while RGS Worcester and KES Stratford go head to head in an exciting one as well. Unbeaten Bromsgrove, fresh from a tense victory over Stamford to reach the Continental Tyres Schools Cup quarter finals, will be hosting Bloxham.
In the West Midlands King’s Worcester travel to take on Bishop Vesey’s Grammar, while KES Birmingham head to Bablake, and at Solihull there is a cracker of a game as they welcome Denstone College.
Warwickshire meanwhile sees Princethorpe College host Loughborough Grammar School. Meanwhile King Henry VIII go the other way, visiting Nottingham High School. Keep an eye on Northamptonshire too, where Oundle, fresh from that brilliant result against Stamford, will host a Bedford Modern side that is having an excellent season.
Across in Norfolk Norwich and Felsted go head to head in what should be an excellent game, likewise King’s Ely’s trip to Langley. Over in Cambridgeshire, meanwhile, Wisbech Grammar host Ratcliff College, while Hertfordshire sees Richard Hale and Merchant Taylors’ meet in a clash between two sides that are playing wonderful rugby.
Suffolk sees an exciting clash between Framlingham College and Royal Hospital School, while in Essex Brentwood welcome London’s UCS. Going the other wat are Dartford Grammar, they have a tough task on their hands as they head into the capital to take on a Campion side that will be absolutely bouncing after their epic Plate victory over Whitgift in midweek. Meanwhile Whitgift’s great rivals John Fisher will be hosting The Cedars.
In South West London KCS Wimbledon travel to Tiffin, while Emanuel welcome Reigate Grammar School and Cardinal Vaughan host Fulham Boys.
Kent is as busy as ever, and the ever-impressive The Judd are in action again, this week hosting Langley Park. Maidstone Grammar and St Olave’s Grammar will meet in an exciting game, so too King’s Canterbury and Sir Joseph Williamson’s, while Eltham College will want to build some form at Chislehurst & Sidcup, and Sutton Valence visit Cranbrook.
In Susses Worth welcome St George’s Weybridge from Surrey, while over in Surrey it’s a busy day. Heading from Sussex to Surrey are Eastbourne College, who have been superb, they take on Caterham. Meanwhile it’s Kent visitors for RGS Guildford, with Skinners coming to take them on in what should be a cracker.
St John’s Leatherhead welcome St Benedict’s from West London, while Wimbledon College head along the A3 to take on Reed’s and Dunottar host Royal Alexandra & Albert. Meanwhile in Hampshire Lord Wandsworth College welcome Shiplake College down from Henley. Heading in the opposite direction are KES Southampton, who head to Oxford to take on Magdalen College, likewise Wiltshire’s Bishop Wordsworth’s, who are in Reading to take on Pangbourne College.
In Buckinghamshire, meanwhile, the superb RGS High Wycombe look to get straight back to winning ways after last week’s first defeat of the season to Seaford College. They have been outstanding all year, but will need to be so again as they welcome a strong Old Swinford Hospital side on Saturday. Along the road Aylesbury Grammar School will host Latymer Upper.
Jumping to the North of the country, and the North West in particular, all eyes must surely be on St Ambrose College, who have been absolutely outstanding this season. They will be hosting Merchant Taylors’. Also in Cheshire, The Grange welcome Altrincham Grammar School, while Cheadle Hulme and Manchester Grammar School also go head to head.
Merseyside sees St Mary’s College host Lancaster RGS, with Newcastle-Under-Lyme on The Wirral to take on Birkenhead, while in Greater Manchester AKS Lytham are the visitors to Bolton School. Over inLancashire Lancaster RGS have another side out at Scarisbrick Hall. Along the road lies one of the biggest games of the weekend as Stonyhurst, one of schools rugby’s most historic sides, host King’s Macclesfield, who will be eager to bounce back after Cup defeat to Kirkham Grammar.
Over in West Yorkshire, Woodhouse Grove and QEGS Wakefield go head to head in a game of schools rugby giants. Woodhouse Grove are absolutely flying at the moment, not least after ending Durham’s unbeaten run last week, but QEGS will be absolutely up for this. Two other giants meet on Wednesday as in form Grammar School at Leeds meet the equally in for St Peter’s York, meanwhile Bradford Grammar School will be hosting Crossley Heath in what should be a great game.
North Yorkshire meanwhile sees Pocklington welcome Barnard Castle south from the North East, meanwhile heading south from North Yorkshire are Ampleforth College, who are in Derbyshire for a massive game at Mount St Mary’s College, who gave Sedbergh a readlly good game on Wednesday.
Finally then to Scotland, where there are, as always, some fantastic games. Chief among them perhaps is Dollar Academy v Stewart’s Melville, two giants going head to head.
Over in Glasgow, Glasgow Academy host Kelvinside Academy while Glasgow High host Balfron High, St Aloysius’ College meet Lomond, and Hutcheson’s Grammar host Marr College.
Perthshire meanwhile sees Glenalmond College and Bell Baxter go head to head, likewise Morrison’s Academy and North Berwick, while in St Andrews, St Leonards host Dundee High School. Aberdeen meanwhile sees Robert Gordon’s College host George Heriot’s.
Aylesbury GS v Latymer Upper
Bablake v KES Birmingham
Birkenhead v Newcastle-Under-Lyme
Bishop Vesey’s GS v King’s Worcester
Bolton v AKS Lytham
Bradford GS v Crossley Heath
Brentwood v UCS
Bromsgrove v Bloxham
Campion v Dartford GS
Cardinal Vaughan v Fulham Boys
Caterham v Eastbourne College
Cathedral School, Llandaff v Christ College
Cheadle Hulme v Manchester GS
Chislehurst & Sidcup GS v Eltham College
Clayesmore v Dauntsey’s
Cranbrook v Sutton Valence
Dean Close v Monmouth
Dollar Academy v Stewart’s Melville
Downside v Wycliffe College
Dunottar v Royal Alexandra & Albert
Emanuel v Reigate GS
Exeter v Wellington
Framlingham College v Royal Hospital School
Glasgow Academy v Kelvinside Academy
Glasgow HS v Balfron HS
Glenalmond College v Bell Baxter
Grammar School at Leeds v St Peter’s, York
Hutchesons’ GS v Marr College
John Fisher v The Cedars
King’s Bruton v Monkton Combe
King’s Canterbury v Sir Joseph Williamson’s
Kingswood v KES Bath
Langley v King’s Ely
Lomond v St Aloysius’ College
Lord Wandsworth College v Shiplake College
Magdalen College v KES Southampton
Maidstone GS v St Olave’s GS
Malvern College v Hereford Cathedral
Morrison’s Academy v North Berwick
Mount Kelly v West Buckland
Mount St Mary’s v Ampleforth College
Norwich v Felsted
Nottingham HS v King Henry VIII
Oundle v Bedford Modern
Pangbourne College v Bishop Wordsworth’s
Pocklington v Barnard Castle
Princethorpe College v Loughborough GS
Prior Park College v Collegiate
QEH v King’s College, Taunton
Reed’s v Wimbledon College
RGS Guildford v Skinners’
RGS High Wycombe v Old Swinford Hospital
RGS Worcester v KES Stratford
Richard Hale v Merchant Taylors’
Robert Gordon’s College v George Heriot’s
Scarisbrick Hall v Lancaster RGS
Solihull v Denstone College
St Ambrose College v Merchant Taylors’
St John’s, Leatherhead v St Benedict’s
St Leonards v Dundee HS
St Mary’s College v Lancaster RGS
Stonyhurst v King’s Macclesfield
The Crypt v Pate’s GS
The Grange v Altrincham GS
The Judd v Langley Park
Tiffin v KCS Wimbledon
Wisbech GS v Ratcliffe College
Woodhouse Grove v QEGS Wakefield
Worth v St George’s, Weybridge