The draw for the 2020 Edwin Doran Surrey Schools Senior 7s has been made, with the tournament taking place on Wednesday 11th March at the Richmond Athletic Ground.
The tournament is the biggest on the calendar prior to the Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s and is often seen as perhaps the most true 7s test on the circuit given that there is no Cup/Vase separation, all schools are drawn into the same initial competition, and the vast geographical representation at the tournament.
In total there are thirteen groups of four teams each and the winners of those groups plus the top three runners up will head to the Last 16 of the Cup competition. Meanwhile the remaining best placed 8 Surrey affiliated sides will compete in the quarter finals of the Surrey Plate competition.
Epsom College won the tournament last year, beating the former Rosslyn Park champions Cranleigh in the final and both have been in great 7s form already this season, Epsom winning at the Seaford 7s before half term and Cranleigh reaching the final of the Hampton 7s last week.
Epsom are drawn into Group A as a result of last year’s victory and their competition will be stiff, with Eastbourne College and Ipswich drawn with them, alongside another of the top performers at the Hampton 7s, St John’s Leaterhead, who won the Plate, as they did here in 2018.
Cranleigh, meanwhile, are in Group G where the impressive Marlborough College will be among their competition, as well as UCS and last year’s Surrey Plate winners, RGS Guildford.
Up against them in that final were Wimbledon College, whose preparations ahead of this have sadly been rather hampered. Nevertheless they are side that you would expect to have real ambition this year, despite a tough Group L draw with Campion, Downside, and schools rugby powerhouses, Dulwich College, who reached last year’s semi finals.
The other losing semi finalist last year was Harrow, who had a spectacular game against Cranleigh. They are drawn in the final group, Group M, where Reed’s, Hurstpierpoint College, and AASE side Oaklands College will be the sides trying to stop them in the early stages this year.
For the first time in a while there was a strong showing from some of the AASE contingent last year, not least Henley College, who ran Cranleigh close in their quarter final. This year they are in Group D, currently they have KCS Wimbledon and St Koseph’s College, who always have an exciting 7s side, for company alongside St Peter’s Gloucester.
The other AASE side to reach the quarter finals last year were St Paul’s Catholic College, who reached the Plate final at the Hampton 7s last week. They will be lining up in Group E last year with Emanuel and Bedford for company as well as the Millfield 2nd VII, who fill one of the spare places.
Millfield’s 1st VII are meanwhile in Group J and last year’s quarter finalists are in for a tough day’s work if they want to repeat some of the title winning year’s, they are the tournament’s most successful side ever. Alongside them in their group are City of London Freemen’s, a superb Seaford College outfit, and a Rugby School side that reached the final of the Champions Trophy. This is arguably going to be the group to watch.
Group C is also going to have a seriously tasty head to head in it though, Kirkham Grammar School reached the quarter finals last year but had sights on even more and will do again this year, but up against them are Hampton, who looked utterly outstanding en route to triumph at their own tournament last week. St John the Baptist and Isleworth & Syon have the challenge of going up against these two heavyweights.
Talking of heavyweights, look no further than Group I, which could well be the most loaded group of all. Whitgift could be potential title contenders, much will depend on how Sunday’s Schools Cup semi final goes, but so could AASE side Beechen Cliff, and do not discount Berkhamsted as dark horses. Caterham, meanwhile, reached the Plate final in 2018 and would love to have another crack at either that or the main Cup.
One of the biggest heavyweights of all, of course, are Wellington College, who have already claimed the Champions Trophy and St Joseph’s Festival this year and will now be eying up major 7s success too. Their campaign begins in a tricky Group H with St Benedict’s, Gordon’s, and former Rosslyn Park final opponents, John Fisher.
Another former Rosslyn Park finalist that will be among those to keep an eye on are Brighton College in Group K, where they will be joined by Champions Trophy finalists, Clifton College, who could make a really strong challenge. London Oratory and a strong Trinity side complete a highly competitive group.
That leaves just two groups to look at, Group B and Group F, and both look highly competitive. Abingdon, St George’s College Weybridge, Eton College, and Wallington County Grammar make up a Group B that looks at this early stage like it could be incredibly tight. Meanwhile in Group F AASE legends Hartpury College are probably the headline act but with Tiffin, Regiate Grammar, and a St Edward’s Oxford side that had the England team as their guests last week, all for company, they will not have it all their own way.
Storms and illness have really hampered this year’s 7s season but the hope is that the Edwin Doran Surrey Schools Senior 7s will be a huge kickstarter for the season, such is the quality normally on show at the tournament. As ever it should give the biggest clues yet as to what we can expect at the Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s, too, but in it’s own right it is one of the most prestigious trophies on the circuit too. It should be an epic day of school 7s.
Edwin Doran Surrey Schools Senior 7s Draw:
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Eastbourne College||Abingdon||St John the Baptist*||St Peter’s, Gloucester|
|Ipswich||St George’s College *||Kirkham Grammar||St Joseph’s College|
|Epsom College *||Eton College||Hampton *||The Henley College|
|St Johns, Leatherhead *||Wallington County GS *||Isleworth & Syon||KCS Wimbledon *|
|Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|
|Bedford School||Hartpury College||Cranleigh *||Wellington College|
|Millfield 2nd VII||St Edward’s School, Oxford||Marlborough College||John Fisher *|
|St Paul’s Catholic Coll*||Tiffin *||RGS Guildford *||St Benedict’s|
|Emanuel *||Reigate Grammar*||University College School||Gordons *|
|Group I||Group J||Group K||Group L|
|Caterham *||Rugby||London Oratory School||Downside|
|Beechen Cliff School||Seaford College||Brighton College||Dulwich College *|
|Whitgift *||Millfield||Trinity *||The Campion School|
|Berkhamsted||City of London Freemen’s *||Clifton College||Wimbledon College *|
|Group M||* Denotes Surrey Affiliated School|