School 7s: Oakham School U18 and U16 7s | Preview

The Oakham 7s takes place this Sunday, arguably the key tournament in the Midlands ahead of the Rosslyn Park National School 7s.


Twenty teams will meet in Rutland for the tournament, which also runs alongside the Oakham U16 7s that also features twenty – more on that later. The twenty sides are divided into four groups of five teams each, with the winners of each group progressing to the Cup semis, second to the Plate, third to the Bowl, and 4th to the Shield.


Reigning champions Bromsgrove sadly won’t be in attendance as the tournament clashes with their huge Continental Tyres U18 Schools Cup semi final, with the side they beat in last year’s final, King’s Macclesfield, Felsted, and Oakham’s 2nd VII all absent this year as well.


Coming in to replace them are Finborough, Brentwood, Radley College, and Oakham’s old rivals Oundle, all will be strong additions.


Hosts Oakham are drawn in Group A alongside one of those newcomers, Finborough, along with two of Finborough’s great Suffolk rivals, Framlingham College and Royal Hospital School, who won the Plate in 2022. Completing the group are Campion, who have been having an outstanding season.


Bedford are the most successful side at this competition, winning the title in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019, and they will be among the big contenders this year. Alongside them in the group are Norwich, and both will be looking to go one better than last year’s semi final. Also in the group are a strong Bloxham side, as well as Oakham’s greatest rivals, Uppingham, who reached last year’s Plate final against Stowe, plus another local rivals, Leicester grammar School.


Group C features 2019 Plate winners Denstone College, and looks an incredibly strong group, with newcomers Brentwood, a strong Teddies Oxford side, a Stamford team that was one of the very best fifteen-a-side teams in the country, and a St Joseph’s College side that won the Vase last year.


That would be the group to watch, except that Group D is brutal. Ipswich have been tearing up trees and probably arrive in Rutland as favourites, though with their own tournament on Friday they will have a mixed up squad. Alongside them are two newcomers in Oundle and Radley College that will both be hugely competitive, as well as last year’s Plate winners Stowe, and a Rugby School side that won last year’s Bowl before winning the Vase at the Rosslyn Park National School 7s and that will be feeling confident after finding real form at the end of last term.


Oakham School 7s U18 Draw


Group A: Campion, Finborough, Framlingham College, Oakham, Royal Hospital School


Group B: Bedford, Bloxham, Leicester GS, Norwich, Uppingham


Group C: Brentwood, Denstone College, St Edward’s Oxford, St Joseph’s College, Stamford


Group D: Ipswich, Oundle, Radley College, Rugby, Stowe


Over in the U16 tournament all but three of the twenty sides in the U18 tournament will be represented, with just Brentwood, Denstone College, and Royal Hospital School playing exclusively in the U18s. Meanwhile Felsted, Haberdashers’ Abraham Darby, and Woodhouse Grove enter exclusively into the U16s.


Haberdashers’ and Woodhouse Grove are both new in this year, the tournament has grown from 18 to 20 sides this year, along with Bloxham, Finborough, and Radley College, while Bromsgrove, Royal Hospital School, and St Joseph’s College’s 2nd VII miss out.


That means no reigning champion in the draw as Bromsgrove won the title last year, but the runners up, Stamford, remain. They are in a brutally tough Group C alongside Rugby, Uppingham, and two newcomers, Radley College and Woodhouse Grove.


Oakham are in Group D, where last year’s Bowl winners St Edward’s Oxford will keep them company, so too the Plate runners up, Oundle. Stowe will also be strong in this group, likewise newcomers Haberdashers’ Abraham Darby.


In Group A there is a strong Suffolk contingent with Framlingham College, Ipswich, and last year’s Shield winners St Joseph’s College, so expect plenty of rivaly. Alongside them are Campion and Bedford, who, like the U18s, have had plenty of success here.


Over in Group B are two new entrants in Bloxham and Finborough, plus a Felsted side that will be eager to make the most of the experience with a strong side. Norwich will be eager to go deep and have a side that could, while Leicester Grammar will be keen to build on last year’s performance.


U16 Draw


Group A: Bedford, Campion, Framlingham College, Ipswich, St Joseph’s College


Group B: Bloxham, Felsted, Finborough, Leicester GS, Norwich


Group C: Radley College, Rugby, Stamford, Uppingham, Woodhouse Grove


Group D: Haberdashers’ Abraham Darby, Oakham, Oundle, St Edward’s Oxford, Stowe

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