The Champions Trophy last 16 takes places this week, with all eight games taking place across Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
It is a first appearance of the tournament for nine teams after first round byes, while for the other seven it is a chance to use that first round experience to help them through to the quarter finals – from there the tournament really is wide open.
Half of the round will be done by Tuesday evening, with four games taking place, before two each on Wednesday and Thursday.
Tuesday 9th October
Berkhamsted v Kingswood – 2.30pm
Berkhamsted were one of the form sides of the opening round thanks to their 39-12 victory, a scoreline that never quite reflected their dominance. Kingswood, meanwhile enjoyed a bye after a brilliant run to last year’s quarter finals that included a last 16 win over Bedford, who had reached the last two finals, winning in 2015. It will be a tough ask to repeat the trick though, Berkhamsted are in great form, only losing once and that came on the opening weekend to Harrow. Kingswood have found the going a little tougher, a draw against Bristol Grammar their best showing yet.
Bryanston v Bristol Grammar – 3pm
Both of these sides were in action in the opening round, Bryanston winning an absolute thriller away to Monmouth 24-23, while Bristol Grammar enjoyed a highly impressive 33-10 victory over Eton College, one of the performances of the round. Bristol have had the better start to the season, winning four, drawing one, and losing one of their six games, and they are unbeaten since the opening round. Bryanston, meanwhile, have won two and lost two so far, however wins over Monmouth and Canford are impressive ones to have on the list so expect a close and competitive game of rugby on Tuesday afternoon.
Prediction: Bristol Grammar School
Epsom College v Grammar School at Leeds – 2.30pm
Two former finalists, both of whom enjoyed byes in the opening round of the tournament this year. Grammar School at Leeds reached the inaugural final in 2014, losing to Millfiled at Allianz Park. A year later Epsom College were at the home of Saracens, losing out in a great game to Bedford. Bar those to runs to the final Epsom have generally had the greater joy in this competition so far, and are enjoying a good start to the season too, St Paul’s, Cranleigh, and Canford have all been beaten while on Dulwich College have taken the spoils from Epsom. GSAL have had a tougher start, three losses on the bounce have followed a strong opening day win over Manchester Grammar. They love this competition though, so expect a good performance.
Prediction: Epsom College
St John’s Leatherhead v Blundell’s – 2.30pm
Arguably the tie of the day, and possibly the round, this one looks really even. Both enjoyed brilliant tournaments last year, St John’s reaching the semi finals before losing out to eventual champions Dulwich College, while Blundell’s finally vanquished their tormenters in this tournament, Epsom College, to reach the final, where they too fell to a spectacular Dulwich performance. This year St John’s have won two and lost two, beating Wimbledon College and RGS Guildford and losing narrowly to Brighton College and Hurstpierpoint College. Blundell’s meanwhile have won four out of four, including a spectacular 56-3 destruction of Bryanston on Saturday. It looks a close game though, for while Blundell’s have the greater record, St John’s have faced the tougher tests, so expect a cracker.
Wednesday 10th October
Bedford v Hurstpierpoint College – 4.30pm
A late kick off on Wednesday sees the 2015 champions and 2016 finalists, Bedford, host a side in Hurstpierpoint College that is really going places this year. As befits their status as historically one of this tournament’s best, Bedford had a first round bye. Hurstpierpoint meanwhile travelled to Eastbourne College where they secured a strong 24-7 victory. Over the season life has been tough for Bedford, with four straight defeats including an 8-7 loss to Northampton School for Boys on Saturday, do not write them off though, they love this tournament. Hurstpierpoint, in contrast, are enjoying a really strong season they have won three from five and while that does not necessarily strike fear, what is worth noting is that among the wins they have beaten Tonbridge and St John’s, while their defeats came to Brighton College and Cranleigh and were narrow. Wednesday will be very interesting.
Prediction: Hurstpierpoint College
Hampton v Dulwich College – 3pm
This is just a brilliant Champions Trophy tie, it carries plenty of history from when these two competed in the Schools Cup, including one particularly memorable semi final at Broadstreet RFC, and this year both sides are looking very good. Dulwich College enjoyed a bye last round, thanks to their status as reigning champions after that glorious win last year. Hampton meanwhile put in one of the performances of the first round to beat St Albans 57-10. Both have had good starts to the year, Dulwich look fantastic with four wins from five, with defeats of Epsom, Brighton, Eton, and Harrow. Only Wellington College have taken the victory against them. Hampton meanwhile have also only been defeated once, a narrow one to Bromsgrove. One of these two will have to add another defeat on Wednesday, but whoever it is, the feeling is that we are in for a sensational match.
Prediction: Dulwich College
Thursday 11th October
Oakham v St Paul’s – 2.30pm
Oakham have a pretty strong record in this competition and certainly got off to a good start this year thanks to a 36-19 defeat of Stowe. St Paul’s, meanwhile had a first round bye, making this their first foray of the year. As far as the season so far goes, Oakham are looking good with four wins from six, including beating local rivals Uppingham and Stamford, while only losing narrowly in their two defeats. St Paul’s meanwhile are three from five including some impressive scalps such as Bishop Wordsworth’s. Bar a bit of a tough loss to Epsom in the opening week, things have looked good for them, even on Saturday defeat to Harrow had plenty of positives, running the side that were unbeaten last year incredibly close, just going down 7-6. This one could be another very tight game of rugby on Thursday.
Prediction: St Paul’s
Wellington College v RGS Guildford – 3pm
RGS Guilford opened the tournament by beating 2016 champions Tonbridge 33-22, so another big name will not frighten them. Wellington College on the other hand had a first round bye. Last year there was some controversy when the legendary school side sent a 2nd XV to Grammar School at Leeds and lost, so the question is what side will they play on Thursday. Hopefully a 1st XV as they are a fantastic side, they have lost just once and it was possibly the game of the season against Millfield, they bounced back spectacularly too, beating Warwick 40-3 to add them to the likes of Dulwich and Whitgift on their list of victories this year. RGS will have no fear though, that strong start against Tonbridge will have them believing they can beat anyone and indeed only St Paul’s and St John’s have beaten them this season.
Prediction: Wellington College
Champions Trophy Last 16 Fixtures:
Bedford v Hurstpierpoint College – Wednesday, 4.30pm
Berkhamsted v Kingswood – Tuesday, 2.30pm
Bryanston v Bristol Grammar School – Tuesday, 3pm
Epsom College v Grammar School at Leeds – Tuesday, 2.30pm
Hampton v Dulwich College – Wednesday, 3pm
Oakham v St Paul’s – Thursday, 2.30pm
St John’s Leatherhead v Blundell’s – Tuesday, 2.30pm
Wellington College v RGS Guildford – Thursday, 3pm
Champions Trophy Round 1 Results:
Berkhamsted 39-12 Haileybury
Bristol Grammar 33-10 Eton College
Eastbourne College 7-24 Hurstpierpoint College
Hampton 57-10 St Albans
Monmouth 23-24 Bryanston
Oakham 36-19 Stowe
Tonbridge 22-33 RGS Guildford
Bedford, Blundell’s, Dulwich College, Epsom College, Grammar School at Leeds, Kingswood, St John’s Leatherhead, St Paul’s, Wellington College