The final full weekend of the season has arrived, and after a particularly weather affected weekend last time around, the anticipation for this one is higher than ever.
Every year this weekend stands out above all others, not just because of what could happen in terms of records and achievements, but also because of what it signals – the end of the U6th’s school playing career.
These combinations of players will never again be seen, never have the opportunity. Yes, there will be sevens season, but it’s a different challenge and not all that take to the field on Friday and Saturday will be involved. This is the moment to soak it all in, to make memories that will last a lifetime.
After all, that is the point of school rugby. Many will point to development, encouraging people to stay in the game, the values the game instils. These are all of huge importance, but they are the goals, the point is the experience itself, the memories, the way it makes a group and individuals feel – that is the very essence of the school game and this weekend it will be at its most heightened.
In the end it’s a game, there to be enjoyed alongside your mates alongside whom you have put so many hours of work all season. Win, lose, or draw, if the collective effort and determination to make the weekend special has been put on, then the feeling of satisfaction will be there for all.
Ten to Watch
On a weekend such as this, selecting just ten games is always a challenge – throw in the fact that there are more games this weekend than in any previous as well, and it’s near impossible. Nevertheless there are some games this weekend with a particularly large amount riding on them, and a couple of very special live games too.
Bromsgrove v Warwick
A huge game between these two great rivals, who met earlier in the season when Bromsgrove won 46-14 at Warwick. Since then Bromsgrove have gone unbeaten this season, including reaching the semi finals of the Continental Tyres Schools Cup on Wednesday, victory here would seal that most remarkable of schoolboy feats, the unbeaten season. However this Warwick side it not the side that they put to the sword back in September, they are unbeaten in their last four with victories over Northampton School for Boys, Rugby, and Solihull, while they also secured a draw at Sedbergh. All of which only serves to ramp up the excitement even further – will Bromsgrove seal an unbeaten season against their greatest rivals, or will Warwick finish with a flourish and leave their hosts in anguish. It should be the most incredible occasion.
Epsom College v Hurstpierpoint College
This one should be a fantastic game, perhaps the most even contest between the sides since Hurstpierpoint’s last victory in this fixture in 2018. Epsom have been excellent at times this season, particularly before half term. Recent weeks have seen back to back defeats but only by a point to Cranleigh and then to the outstanding, and unbeaten, Brighton College. They will be firing for this one. They will need to be though because Hurstpierpoint College are having one of their greatest seasons. Only Brighton and Harrow have beaten them, both of whom are unbeaten and in the top 5 sides in the country. They are going to be all guns blazing for this one as they seek to complete this campaign of near perfection. The challenge is huge though, Epsom, as mentioned, are strong and at home in their final game are going to be as determined as anyone. It should be sensational.
Haileybury v St Albans
A Hertfordshire derby between two sides that have really made their mark this season. Both have had players missing on England duty recently but both have their stars back and what a spectacular game that could make for. Haileybury are an established name in the schools rugby world, St Albans have been a coming force for a while, including a couple of victories against their hosts, but this season has been a level above, now they are a name to be reckoned with by all. Which makes Saturday utterly compelling. Haileybury have been brilliant at times this year, including back to back victories over Berkhamsted and Bedford, and when they lost they only lose to Stamford or by a handful of points. Likewise St Albans, who have only lost twice, both by a mere three points. One of those was to Felsted 23-20, whom Haileybury also lost to early in the season, 22-18. That pair of results shows you just how close this one could, and maybe should, be. Not to be missed.
Ipswich v Whitgift
At the time of writing Ipswich are yet to face Harrow in their Cup quarter final, but either way they are going to head into Saturday either looking to complete an unbeaten season or an unbeaten regular season – either way, they have been one of the top sides in the country and have had perhaps their most impressive season in the school’s history. They will want to finish that in style on Saturday, but to do so they will have to do what they have time and time again this season and beat one of the most established names in all of schoolboy rugby. Three time Cup winners, Whitgift have had a season of highs and lows but they come into this in form after back to back victories. They have had some hugely impressive performances but against the very best around they haven’t quite been able to get the result – this is their chance, and what a time to do it this would be. It should be spectacular, a game that will mean so much to both sides, and another of those games that will either see a side go unbeaten and achieve schools rugby nirvana, or that will see another claim their best result of the season.
King’s Worcester v RGS Worcester – LIVE on NextGenXV (2pm, Sunday)
The 16th Annual Modus Cup takes place at Sixways Stadium this Sunday, LIVE on the NextGenXV YouTube Channel at 2pm, and through the embedded link below. Moved from its usual half term slot to the final Sunday of term, there is an even greater sense of occasion than usual as it becomes the send off for these two groups of players. It is always one of the most brilliant schools rugby occasions of the season, and it looks set to be bigger than ever this year. You can see our full preview for the game here: Modus Cup Preview, King’s Worcester v RGS Worcester.
RGS Newcastle v Kirkham GS
Kirkham Grammar School head to RGS Newcastle undefeated, heading to the Continental Tyres Schools Cup semi finals after a superb performance on Wednesday, and already with the St Joseph’s Festival title in the bag. They have been, as so often in recent times, utterly brilliant. The level of determination that they will have heading into this to complete the job will be enormous. For RGS the determination will be about ending on a high, it has been a tough season for them and a final game against an unbeaten Kirkham Grammar is probably not the tonic that they were after, however it also presents an opportunity. There is zero pressure on them for Saturday, and yet with that comes opportunity, the opportunity to take victory, to spoil the party, and to finish in style. The season may have been tough, but look closer and something is revealed – RGS are always in games. Do that on Saturday and if there are any nerves from Kirkham then they could capitalise. For Kirkham, it’s about the opportunity for glory, for near perfection, and they will not let that slip easily.
Rugby v Barbarians – LIVE on NextGenXV (10.20am and 2.15pm, Saturday)
Perhaps the most special occasion of the season on Saturday, LIVE here on the NextGenXV YouTube Channel and through the embedded videos below. For the first time in history the Barbarians will field U18 sides in a Men’s fixture against Rugby School’s Boys 1st XV at 2.15pm and a Women’s fixture against Rugby School’s Girls 1st XV at 10.20am, the final events in this magnificent year celebrating 200 years of Rugby Football. It is a day that will go down in the annals of school rugby history. You can see our full preview of it all here: Rugby vs Barbarians Preview – 200 years of Rugby Football.
Skinners’ v The Judd
Kent is where one of the biggest games of the weekend will be, what is effectively the final of the Kent Merit League as Skinners’ host The Judd in what will be the 101st meeting between the pair. Both arrive with 100% records in the merit league, in what is one of the biggest State School games in the county. There will be more silverware on offer, the Champions Cup in addition to the Merit League, with The Judd looking to retain both for the third year on the trot. Judd have historically just had the edge, 54 victories to Skinners’ 35, with 11 draws, but this game is very much in the balance, both have had similar season, and each has contrasting style, The Judd backline with England U18 international Angus Hall is something to behold, but the Skinners’ forward pack is mighty. It will be an epic way for the season to conclude for these two.
Stowe v Northampton School for Boys
The last time either of these sides was live here on NextGenXV after cancellations go in the way of their previous fixtures. NSB had a cracking game against Whitgift in the last weekend of November, a narrow defeat, while Stowe haven’t played since a thrilling defeat to Ipswich on the 17th November. So there may be some rustiness, but what there won’t be is any last of quality, these are two excellent sides when at their best. Stowe have a habit of getting into tight games, which just makes this all the more compelling – in only three of their eleven games has the scoreline differential been more than a converted try or less. Whoever Stowe play, it goes down to the wire and the excitement and tense ramp up. NSB have had a few of those themselves and actually gave Bromsgrove as good a test as anyone has this season, going down just 8-3. So we should be in for a cracker on Saturday, with both sides utterly determined to finish up on a high.
Tonbridge v Seaford College
One of the most fascinating games of this final weekend. Both of these sides are capable of true brilliance, a fortnight ago Seaford travelled to Millfield and won, perhaps the best result they have ever had, last week Tonbridge travelled to Wellington College, one of the best in the country on recent form, and won. Both can produce incredible performances and stunning results. Both also have had the occasional wobble, but have shown resilience when those have happened. All of which is to say that Saturday’s encounter, the last of the season for both, should be nothing short of brilliant in terms of quality, and nightmarish in terms of predicting an outcome. It could go any way at all, if both sides turn up then it could be one of the great games of the season. Whatever the scenario it is a game that is not to be missed, a brilliant game with which to finish the term for both and a golden opportunity to make memories that will last.
Ten to Watch Fixtures
Bromsgrove v Warwick
Epsom College v Hurstpierpoint College
Haileybury v St Albans
Ipswich v Whitgift
King’s Worcester v RGS Worcester – LIVE on NextGenXV (Sunday)
RGS Newcastle v Kirkham GS
Rugby v Barbarians – LIVE on NextGenXV
Skinners’ v The Judd
Stowe v Northampton School for Boys
Tonbridge v Seaford College
For the first time since 2019 the season ending fixture between Bradford Grammar and Colfe’s will take place this Friday. The tour south to South East London for Bradford Grammar began in 2017 and was intended to be an annual event, but Covid and frozen ground had but a break on it until now. It should be a wonderful occasion at Charlton Park RFC, as has always been the case. Not too far away Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar and St Olave’s Grammar will meet in a huge game, the final one of the season for St Olave’s, though Chislehurst and Sidcup have one more. Meanwhile at Cobham RFC, Claremont and St James will go head to head under the lights in a wonderful season finale for the two sides.
Another that should be spectacular is KES Birmingham v KES Five Ways. KES Birmingham have been magnificent this season, indeed since half term they are undefeated, but so too are KES Five Ways. It should be an absolutely epic occasion for these two to conclude their seasons.
Over in Wales there is a massive one on Friday too at the Llanishen Rugby artificial surface as two Cathedral Schools go head to head, Cathedral School Llandaff hosting Hereford Cathedral School in what is always a special occasion.
Bradford GS v Colfe’s
Cathedral School, Llandaff v Hereford Cathedral
Chislehurst & Sidcup GS v St Olave’s GS
Claremont v St James
KES Birmingham v KES Five Ways
Saturday is the last full Saturday of the season, and full it most certainly is – an absolutely packed fixture list right across the country. Perhaps a good place to start is in Windsor, where Eton College will be looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season last week as they take on a Bishop Wordsworth’s side that will be eager to finish on a high. Eton have been magnificent this year, but they will need to be wary against this BWS side that would love a final day upset.
Along the road to Reading there are some great head to heads, travelling from Windsor are Windsor Boys’ School, who take on The Oratory. Meanwhile Reading Blue Coat host Aylesbury Grammar in what should be a cracking contest, and Shiplake College head to Pangbourne College for what promises to be a top encounter.
Oxfordshire meanwhile sees Bloxham host Bishop Vesey’s Grammar, a fine season ender, while Kingham Hill welcome Rendcomb College.
Further West there is a cracker as a strong Denstone College side welcome Old Swinford Hospital, a game that should have plenty of interest and be a great occasion. As should KES Stratford v Bablake, two sides that have had some big moments this year. Meanwhile in Worcestershire, Malvern College will look to finish a tricky season on a high, but they face a stiff challenge, a King’s Gloucester side that is enjoying one of their greatest seasons.
In Gloucestershire itself, meanwhile, Sir Thomas Rich’s look to continue what has been a magnificent term when they host a Solihull side that has also been utterly outstanding this year. Dean Close have had some wonderful days too, and will have a huge occasion with which to round the term off when they welcome Welsh side Christ College across the Severn, for what should be a cracking game, as should the game at Pate’s Grammar, as they host a strong Collegiate side.
Over in Bristol there is a Welsh visitor in the form of Monmouth, who make the trip to take on Bristol Grammar School, while in Somerset there are some wonderful games. There is a derby in Taunton as King’s College host Taunton School, one of the great school derbies around. King’s Bruton meanwhile welcome Wells Cathedral, who will need to be at their best in front of a strong Bruton side, while Wellington School host Clayesmore.
Along the road KES Bath and Prior Park College go head to head, that one is not to be missed, nor is Monkton Combe’s trip to Kingswood, who have only lost once all season and that was in the Cup by a mere three points. Another side that has been outstanding this season are Blundell’s, including a victory over Clifton College in a triangular last weekend. They welcome a strong Canford side over from Dorset to Devon.
Above Dorset to Wiltshire, where Marlborough College welcome Radley College for a real classic of the schools rugby calendar, both arrive off the back of really tight and exciting victories as they look to the end of the season. Meanwhile Warminster will host Queen’s College Taunton in a grand season finale.
Hampshire sees a couple of cracking games as two in form sides this year go head to head, Lord Wandsworth College and Daunstsey’s, it could be a wonderful game of rugby. KES Southampton have also had some brilliant moments, they host Embley in another big game.
Along to Surrey where plenty of eyes will be focused on RGS Guildford as they play host to Cranleigh, two sides that have somewhat gone under the radar despite brilliant seasons. Along the road at St George’s Weybridge, Halliford are the visitors in what should be a good game, St George’s have impressed this year, likewise Halliford, while St George’s rivals Reed’s are hosting KCS Wimbledon. It’s a London visitor to Reigate Grammar too, Tiffin are the away side, and be sure to pay attention at St John’s Leatherhead, where they host Hampton in what is one of the biggest games of the weekend.
In Sussex, meanwhile Worth host a Caterham side that has displayed this year that when they are one form they can be nearly impossible to stop. London Itself has some wonderful games this weekend, in the South West Wimbledon College and Emanuel go head to head, while Isleworth & Syon host St Richard Reynolds. Meanwhile the biggest game in the area looks set to be St Paul’s v London Oratory, particularly in light of some of St Paul’s form of late.
West London sees St Benedict’s, after that brilliant performance last weekend, host Oxford’s Magdalen College – that one should be a cracker. As should Merchant Taylors’ v RGS High Wycombe in North West London, RGS have been quite simply outstanding this season and the excitement for next year has already arrived, but Merchant Taylors’ are far from the sort to roll over. Along the road, UCS v St Columba’s College looks like it could be a strong contest.
South East London meanwhile sees a massive game between two sides that have dominated the school game, in one year or another over the last decade, go head to head – Dulwich College and Berkhamsted. They may not be dominating now, but a fantastic game of rugby looks as though it will be one the cards.
Meanwhile along the road in Croydon Trinity and John Fisher meet in a season-ending derby. Neither has had the season they wanted, and yet both have had moments of brilliance. For Trinity that moment was last week against the unbeaten Eton College. Eton had a couple missing but few expected their unbeaten run to come to a close, but that was exactly what Trinity did with a statement result. For John Fisher big victories over the likes of Wimbledon College and The Cedars should bring confidence. Most importantly though, what a spectacular game with which to finish the season, a derby game between two sides that will want to make a point. It ought to be fantastic.
In Kent look out for rampantly in form Ravens Wood, they travel to Maidstone Grammar, meanwhile Sevenoaks host Eltham College, that one should be interesting, and King’s Canterbury host Sutton Valence. Gravesend Grammar meanwhile head to Dartford Grammar, for what should be a strong game.
In Essex Brentwood host Coopers’ Coborn and Bancroft’s welcome QES Barnet, it is neighbouring Suffolk though that looks as though it might have fireworks. St Joseph’s College have been wonderful this season, their best in years, but so too have Felsted, arguably the unsung heroes of the season such has their quiet but tidy progression been. That is far from the only big game in Suffolk though as Finborough host Norwich, a huge game, meanwhile Culford host Wisbech Grammar, and Royal Hospital School welcome Bishop’s Stortford College. Cambridge meanwhile sees The Perse welcome RGS Colchester.
Bedford has two fantastic games on Saturday. Bedford School host Abingdon in what is a really important final game of the term for both. Each has had some tricky patches but will be gunning to finish in style. Across town Bedford Modern host Mill Hill, both will be pleased with their year, but will be equally eager to make sure that the year finishes on a real high. Hertfordshire meanwhile sees a few good games, Richard Hale, so good again this year, host Haberdashers’ Elstree, while St George’s Harpenden welcome Roundwood Park, and St Edmund’s College head to take on Bishop’s Stortford’s 2nd XV.
Northamptonshire sees a great old rivalry as Oundle welcome Oakham, this has been somewhat of a renaissance year for Oundle and they would love to end it with victory over Oakham, but this superb Rutland side won’t let the home team have it easy at all after a strong season of their own. Also wanting to finish in style are Wellingborough, who host King’s Ely. Further North, Nottingham High School, who have had a memorable year, host Princethorpe College, while rivals Trent College make the trip to Worksop College.
Yorkshire has some exciting games as QEGS Wakefield and Grammar School at Leeds go head to head in what should be a cracker. Meanwhile the excellent St Peter’s York are on the road at Pocklington. Ampleforth College and Giggleswick also go head to head, a match that should really be a tight one.
Cheshire means another sighting of the excellent St Ambrose College, who missed out on progression in the Vase in midweek against Felsted, but who have been magnificent all year. Manchester Grammar will be the latest side to take them on. Look out also for Cheadle Hulme, who are in action at Lymm High School, while Altrincham Grammar welcome Wilmslow High and The Grange host Bolton.
Merseyside sees Merchant Taylors’ host Wirral Grammar School in what should be a good game, while back on the Wirral Birkenhead will host AKS Lytham. Across the water to the Isle of Man, King William’s College host a special fixture against Kent tourists King’s Rochester, that should be a wonderful occasion. Back in England Scarisbrick Hall will welcome Liverpool College. In the North East of England Barnard Castle go head to head with Yarm to finish off their seasons with a big game.
Scotland has some belters to finish off with, not least a huge game as Merchiston Castle host Strathallan, two sides that have been wonderful this season but might have thought the chance of silverware would have been a little closer. Likewise Edinburgh Academy, who travel to Fettes College.
At the time of writing the Scottish Schools Cup final is being played, and George Watson’s College are favourites to lift it. Whether they do or not, they will be taking on George Heriot’s this Saturday. Elsewhere, Glenalmond College host Morrison’s Academy and St Leonards host Robert Gordon’s College. Meanwhile the superb Dundee High School are away at North Berwick.
Kelvinside Academy head to Marr College, while St Columba’s High School host St Aloysus’ College, meanwhile Hutchesons’ Grammar School will be hosting Glasgow High School.
Altrincham GS v Wilmslow HS
Ampleforth College v Giggleswick
Bancroft’s v QES Barnet
Barnard Castle v Yarm
Bedford v Abingdon
Bedford Modern v Mill Hill
Birkenhead v AKS Lytham
Bishop’s Stortford HS 2nd XV v St Edmund’s College
Bloxham v Bishop Vesey’s GS
Blundell’s v Canford
Brentwood v Coopers’ Coborn
Bristol GS v Monmouth
Culford v Wisbech GS
Dartford GS v Gravesend GS
Dean Close v Christ College
Denstone College v Old Swinford Hospital
Dulwich College v Berkhamsted
Eton College v Bishop Wordsworth’s
Fettes College v Edinburgh Academy
Finborough v Norwich
Framlingham College v New Hall
George Heriot’s v George Watson’s College
Glenalmond College v Morrison’s Academy
Hutchesons’ GS v Glasgow HS
Isleworth & Syon v St Richard Reynolds
KES Bath v Prior Park College
KES Southampton v Embley
KES Stratford v Bablake
Kingham Hill v Rendcomb College
King’s Bruton v Wells Cathedral
King’s Canterbury v Sutton Valence
King’s College, Taunton v Taunton School
King William’s College v King’s Rochester
Kingswood v Monkton Combe
Lord Wandsworth College v Dauntsey’s
Lymm HS v Cheadle Hulme
Maidstone GS v Ravens Wood
Malvern College v King’s Gloucester
Marlborough College v Radley College
Marr College v Kelvinside Academy
Merchant Taylors’ v RGS High Wycombe
Merchant Taylors’ v Wirral GS
Merchiston Castle v Strathallan
North Berwick v Dundee HS
Nottingham HS v Princethorpe College
Oundle v Oakham
Pangbourne College v Shiplake College
Pate’s GS v Collegiate
Pocklington v St Peter’s, York
QEGS Wakefield v Grammar School at Leeds
Reading Blue Coat v Aylesbury GS
Reigate GS v Tiffin
Reed’s v KCS Wimbledon
RGS Guildford v Cranleigh
Richard Hale v Haberdashers’ Elstree
Royal Hospital School v Bishop’s Stortford College
Scarisbrick Hall v Liverpool College
Sevenoaks v Eltham College
Sir Thomas Rich’s v Solihull
Skinners’ v The Judd
St Ambrose College v Manchester GS
St Benedict’s v Magdalen College
St Columba’s HS v St Aloysius’ College
St George’s, Harpenden v Roundwood Park
St George’s, Weybridge v Halliford
St John’s, Leatherhead v Hampton
St Joseph’s College v Felsted
St Leonards v Robert Gordon’s College
St Paul’s v London Oratory
The Grange v Bolton
The Oratory v Windsor Boys’
The Perse v RGS Colchester
UCS v St Columba’s College
Warminster v Queen’s College, Taunton
Wellingborough v King’s Ely
Wellington v Clayesmore
Wimbledon College v Emanuel
Worksop College v Trent College
Worth v Caterham