With just five fixtures remaining across the whole of the Daily Mail Trophy, the league table is all but finalised.
Sedbergh have sealed the title with an impressive haul of 7.41 Merit Points, the highest total in this competition’s five year history, a fitting reward for a truly outstanding unbeaten season.
They become just the third side to win the title after Woodhouse Grove won the inaugural 2013 title, followed by a three year streak from Wellington College. Wellington College pushed Sedbergh all the way this year, but successive defeats to the eventual champions and third placed Harrow saw their challenge end.
They are the first side to finish in second place with over 7 Merit Points, and for the third time in four years it is these two giants of the school game that occupy the top two spots. After years of trying though, it is the Cumbrians that finally get their hands on the trophy, and deservedly so, this year they have produced some truly breathtaking rugby.
For the second year running, Harrow finish third. Like Sedbergh they have had a fantastic unbeaten season, and with 6.44 they finish with a points total that in other years would have been good enough for second.
Cranleigh finished up in fourth, they too had an outstanding unbeaten season as they added that to their extensive list of recent achievements that includes back to back Rosslyn Park titles and a St Joseph’s Festival win last year. 4th in the league is a huge achievement though, and a significant jump from 36th this year, meaning that opposition will get a 0.3 point bonus for playing them next year, rather than the 0.2 they received this year.
In 5th Cheltenham College were also unbeaten, with the same record as Sedbergh but a mildly more forgiving fixture list, they rise from 16th last year and look like school that is here to stay at the top end under the guidance of former Gloucester and England full back Olly Morgan.
St Peter’s York finish in sixth, a slight drop from fourth last year, but with an unbeaten season under their belts they could hardly have done more. Behind them in 7th are Brighton College, the St Joseph’s Festival champions whose stunning second half of the season saw them climb above last year’s finishing position of 9th.
Reed’s have the most remarkable rise of all in the Top 10 of the table, their unbeaten ten from ten record sees them jump from 63rd last year to eighth this year, remarkable stuff.
A thrilling final day 43-41 victory over Canford saw Clifton College get into the Top 10 at the very last chance as they sealed 9th place, a slight drop from last year’s 7th, but still a fantastic season. Canford, meanwhile, finshed in 12th despite that loss, a drop from 6th last year but a fitting reward for another excellent season.
Completing the Top 10 were another of this year’s big climbers, Haileybury, who won 6 from 7 to finish in tenth, jus 0.01 points behind 8th and 9th and a huge rise from 31st last year, making them another 0.3 bonus point proposition for opponents as opposed to this year’s 0.2.
Those playing against this year’s Top 25 next year will receive 0.3 bonus points ever time they play them, that drops to 0.2 from teams placed 26th to 50th, 0.1 from those in 51st to 75th, and 0 bonus points against those finishing below 75th this year.
Schools Cup semi finalists Northampton School for Boys finished in 11th, just 0.08 points outside of the top 10 and a huge rise from 49th last year. Canford finished behind them in 12 on 5.40, with St Edward’s Oxford level on points with them in 13th, up from 56th last year so shooting from being a 0.1 bonus to opposition this year to a 0.3 bonus next year.
Champions Trophy finalists Blundell’s final day loss to Cheltenham College saw them slip to 14th having been in the Top 10 before, but it is still a huge rise from 48th last year. So too for QEGS Wakefield, who rise to 15th from 40th last year, all whilst also reaching the Schools Cup semi finals.
A strong second half of the season has helped Oakham to a 16th place finish, up from 39th last year.
Below 16th there is still a little margin for error. 2013 champions and 10th place finishers last year, Woodhouse Grove are currently in 17th, level on points with Campion in 18th. However Campion have a game against Wimbledon College on Saturday. A bonus point win would see them switch places with Woodhouse Grove, a regular win leaving them where they are, while a draw or loss would see them slipping down the table, indeed any fewer than 2 matchday points would see them drop out of the top 25. Either way, it is a remarkable rise from Campion who finished down in 92nd place last year.
Manchester Grammar and St Ambrose College also meet on Saturday but they will not affect the Top 25, nor will Reading Blue Coat v Magdalen College on Wednesday or Rugby v Bristol Grammar School on Thursday.
What might is Eton College’s game at home to Berkhamsted on Thursday. Berkhamsted cannot sneak into the Top 25, but a bonus point win for Eton College would see them sneak ahead of Dean Close in 25th, who like Campion have had a remarkable rise no matter what happens, up from 97th in 2016/17. The two sides would be level on 4.73 points but Eton would take it thanks to more wins and league points. Although were Campion to slip out of the Top 25 on Saturday both would keep their top 25 spots.
Bedford are currently in 19th, down slightly from 15th last year, and will likely stay there unless Campion slip up. Seaford College are behind them in 20th, up from 68th last year, and St Paul’s in 21st behind them also rise, form 33rd in 2016/17.
Bromsgrove are down 9 places from their 13th place finish last year to 22nd, but retain that crucial 0.3 status, while Stamford rise from 0.2 status to 0.3 with their rise from 47th to 23rd. Whitgift finish up in 24th, down very slightly from 21st in 2016/17.
It is a huge story at least one and very possibly two sides that finished in the nineties last year could finish in the Top 25 this year, a stunning achievement from both sides, and a real example of just how competitive schools rugby is.
The final word must go to Sedbergh though, the deserved champions. To go unbeaten is a superb achievement, especially with their tough fixture list. They have been knocking on the door for so long, but were continually pipped by Wellington College. That win at Broadstreet RFC over the triple champions was vital, but the real sign of how hard they have worked and the performances they have put in is the fact that they have secured the highest ever points total in the Daily Mail Trophy.
They have been forced to dig unbelievably deep, and have responded in style, a truly fantastic schoolboy rugby team.
For further details on how the Daily Mail Trophy works, please click here: Daily Mail Trophy – An explanation.
To see the full Daily Mail Trophy table, please follow this link: Daily Mail Trophy Table.
|2017 Daily Mail Trophy Table – Top 10|
|Pos||Team (last year’s pos)||P||W||D||L||LPs||Points|
|2||Wellington College (1)||12||10||0||2||49||7.18|
|5||Cheltenham College (16)||11||11||0||0||48||6.16|
|6||St Peter’s, York (4)||7||7||0||0||31||5.83|
|7||Brighton College (9)||11||8||0||3||41||5.63|
|9||Clifton College (7)||10||7||0||3||35||5.50|
11 – Northampton School for Boys, 5.41 (49)
12 – Canford, 5.40 (6)
13 – St Edward’s, Oxford, 5.40 (56)
14 – Blundell’s, 5.33 (48)
15 – QEGS Wakefield, 5.24 (40)
16 – Oakham, 5.20 (39)
17 – Woodhouse Grove, 5.10 (10)
18 – Campion, 5.10* (92)
19 – Bedford, 4.98 (15)
20 – Seaford College, 4.90 (68)
21 – St Paul’s, 4.88 (33)
22 – Bromsgrove, 4.88 (13)
23 – Stamford, 4.80 (47)
24 – Whitgift, 4.76 (21)
25 – Dean Close, 4.73 (97)
30 – Eton Collge, 4.30* (34)
Still to be played:
Reading Blue Coat v Magdalen College (Wednesday)
Rugby v Bristol GS (Thursday)
Eton College v Berkhamsted (Thursday)
Manchester GS v St Ambrose College (Saturday)
Wimbledon College v Campion (Saturday)