The semi finals of the Champions Trophy take place this week as the last four sides in the competition compete for a place in the final at Saracens’ Allianz Park.
From 23 sides back in early September, we are now down to just four, Bristol Grammar School, Epsom College, Hurstpierpoint College, and Wellington College.
None of the four have ever won the title before, indeed between Bristol Grammar, Hurstpierpoint, and Wellington, none have come that close. Epsom have though, they have been serial semi finalists and reached the 2015 final. They will be desperate to make this the year that they go one step further.
They face a trip to Hurstpierpoint College on Thursday, but the semi final round kicks off two days before that when Bristol Grammar School host Wellington College.
Wellington College appear to be the tournament favourites, indeed since a first round bye they have then beat RGS Guildford 47-0 and Berkhamsted 50-24. In our vote last week 59% of you rated them as favourites for the title, perhaps unsurprising given then record over the last few years that has seen them win three of the last four Daily Mail Trophy titles and maintain a reputation as one of the best sides in the country.
Hurstpierpoint were your second favourites with 18% of the vote. Again, perhaps unsurprising for while they are not such a big name they have been outstanding this year and have taken some huge scalps. They knocked out one of the favourites, Hampton last round, and took out the 2015 champions Bedford the week before.
They have their work cut out against Epsom College though, 15% fancy them for the title and they are a top side with the best Champions Trophy record of the four sides left by a mile. Undoubtedly a top side, Epsom know what they are about and know what this competition is about too, being written off by 85% will motivate them hugely, one suspects.
Bristol Grammar meanwhile garnered just 11% of your votes, but they are a much tougher proposition than that, particularly as they are at home. Bryanstone, St Paul’s, and Eton College have all lost out to Bristol in this competition so far and you can bet that with a massive crowd behind them on Tuesday they will fully believe that they can add Wellington College to that list.
Bristol Grammar School v Wellington College – Tuesday, 2.30pm
Wellington College go into this as favourites, such is their schools rugby reputation and their form over the course of this season. Both in and out of this competition they have been exceptional, losing just once and that was to a top class Millfield side. Player-wise they are stacked with ability and workrate but Bristol Grammar School will unquestionably match that workrate and have quality of their own, only Sir Thomas Rich’s and Clifton College, to top rate sides, had beaten them before the weekend where a much changed side lost out to Colston’s. Tuesday is their focus though, and with major scalps like Eton and St Paul’s already taken, they are going to be absolutely ready for this one. Wellington are used to that though, like all top teams in all sports every side they face is absolutely raring to go against them, Tuesday will be no different.
Prediction: Wellington College
Tournament so far:
Quarter Final: 15-7 v St Paul’s
Last 16: 46-17 at Bryanston
Round 1: 33-10 v Eton College
Quarter Final: 50-24 at Berkhamsted
Last 16: 47-0 v RGS Guildford
Round 1: Bye
Hurstpierpoint College v Epsom College – Thursday, 2.15pm
An absolutely fascinating semi final. Historically Epsom must be favourites, such is their Champions Trophy record and their overall records from the last few seasons. Indeed with only heavyweights in Dulwich College, Brighton College, and Harrow beating them this season, they are looking good. However so are Hurstpierpoint, indeed they are enjoying one of their very best seasons and have been regularly taking big scalps, Hampton and Bedford among them in this competition, and the likes of Tonbridge and St John’s in the regular season. They have three common opponents, both losing to Brighton College away and beating St John’s away. However Epsom College beat Cranleigh at home while Hurstpierpoint lost to the same opponent at home. Does that mean Epsom have a slight advantage? Perhaps, but it also suggests that this is going to be a very close game of rugby – and in the Champions Trophy that usually means an entertaining game, and a bucket load of drama.
Prediction: Epsom College
Tournament so far:
Quarter Final: 34-22 v Hampton
Last 16: 26-11 at Bedford
Round 1: 24-7 at Eastbourne College
Quarter Final: 27-14 at St John’s, Leatherhead
Last 16: 38-5 v Grammar School at Leeds
Round 1: Bye
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Champions Trophy Semi Finals:
Bristol Grammar v Wellington College – Tuesday 2.30pm
Hurstpierpoint College v Epsom College – Thursday 2.15pm
Champions Trophy Final – Wednesday 5th December, Allianz Park
Champions Trophy Quarter Final Results:
Berkhamsted 24-50 Wellington College
Bristol GS 15-7 St Paul’s
Hurstpierpoint College 34-22 Hampton
St John’s, Leatherhead 14-27 Epsom College
Champions Trophy Last 16 Results:
Bedford 11-26 Hurstpierpoint College
Berkhamsted 63-14 Kingswood
Bryanston 17-46 Bristol Grammar School
Epsom College 38-5 Grammar School at Leeds
Hampton 25-22 Dulwich College
Oakham 20-22 St Paul’s
St John’s Leatherhead 20-5 Blundell’s
Wellington College 47-0 RGS Guildford
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