The flagship tournament of the Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s is always the U18 Cup tournament.
This year the U18 Cup takes place on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th March and will, as ever, feature the very best teams in the country going head to head for the ultimate prize in schoolboy rugby.
Sedbergh are the reigning champions and are in superb form this season, tournament victories have once again arrived in the armful, including the Mount St Mary’s 7s and Worksop 7s, and they have some spectacular players once again.
They are located in Group A, with Coleg Llandrillo, Haileybury, Windsor Boys, and an Eltham College side that come in with some real form.
Cranleigh, after three finals in a row that included back to back titles in 2016 and 2017, look as though they are hungry for more too. They won an early title at the Hampton 7s and reached the Surrey 7s final. They may have lost that to Epsom College, but outrageously, Epsom are in the Vase competition. Regardless, it showed us the quality Cranleigh have.
They have a brutal Group L though, a fantastic Dean Close side, two AASE sides in Brooksby Melton College and Moulton College, and the ever-strong Stonyhurst College all lining up against them.
In truth though every group will be hugely competitive with just one side from each of the twelve progressing to what will be three Cup quarter final groups. The winners of A, B, C, and D will be in one group, E, F, G, and H in another, and I, J, K, and L in the last. The winners of those groups progress to the semi finals alongside the best of the three runners up.
Those finishing runners up in the opening groups of the tournament will head to the Plate, which will follow the same format as the Cup.
Reigning Vase champions Blundell’s (the Vase winners are promoted to the Cup each year) have enjoyed a strong season including victory at the Marches 7s. They are in Group B and line up against Belfast Met, Hymers College, and a big twin threat in Ivybridge Community College and St Joseph’s College.
Group C is a real clash of the titans, Bedford, Denstone College, and Dulwich College have all won massive tournaments this year. That is before we even think about the U18 Schools Plate runners up, Sherborne, a brilliant side, and Welsh giants Coleg Gwent. The winner of this group is going to be a spectacularly good side, their only fear will likely be tiredness after such a tough group.
Group D is another frighteningly tough group with the ever competitive Brighton College, who have been brilliant again this 7s season heading the charge. Joining them are Warwick, who after missing out in the U18 Schools Cup final would surely love to bounce back with the ultimate 7s gong. They are alongside heavyweights John Fisher and Cowbridge Comprehensive as well as one of the top AASE sides, Exeter College.
It is a loaded Group E too, Welsh giants Coleg Sir Gar line up against Champions Trophy semi finalists Hurstpierpoint College and former AASE finalists Oaklands College, with Robert Clack and St Benedict’s also in contention.
Clifton College were Colts runners up last year and are in Group F with a strong set of players this year. There are no easy games though with Llandovery College, Coleg y Cymoedd, and particularly Harrow and Henley College also in the group.
Kirkham Grammar School came oh so close to a place in last year’s final and will be the Group G favourites this year, but with AASE side Bishop Burton, alongside U18 School Vase finalists Samuel Whitbread, St Albans, and Newport High in their group, they will have to be on song.
Group H is brutally tough. It features Cup legends Millfield and fellow schools rugby legends Barnard Castle alongside AASE giants Beechen Cliff and Hartpury College, the two sides that contested the AASE final this year. St Laurence draw the short straw by being group among that crowd.
Group I looks interesting, there is an AASE threat in St Paul’s Catholic College alongside the ever strong Stamford. King John School are also in there, while Ysgol Gyfun Glantaf could be a wildcard, their repeated success at Junior and U14 level will surely begin to show at the top end soon, King’s College Taunton also have plenty of 7s ability in their side.
Last year Hampton won the Plate, they will hope to go one better this year after some brilliant results. Group J will be their starting point, but it is a tough one, Woodhouse Grove will also mount a title challenge, while Stowe, Northampton School for Boys and Neath Port Talbot are not to be sniffed at.
Group K pits two of Rosslyn Park’s most successful sides against each other, Wellington College and Whitgift. Wellington have not quite hit previous heights but you get the sense they are ready to be spectacular, while Whitgift’s run to U18 Schools Cup glory could inspire one of the great doubles. Either could go all the way but only one can reach the Cup quarter finals. Before either can even entertain such thoughts though they have some brutal opponents alongside in the shape of Old Swinford Hospital, Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera, and, particularly, St John’s Leatherhead.
Whoever wins it, with the quality across each and every group they are going to have to do it the hard way. What is sure, is that it is going to make for a spectacular two days of 7s.
2019 Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s U18 Cup Draw (Thursday 28th & Friday 29th March):
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D||Group E||Group F|
|Coleg Llandrillo||Belfast Met||Bedford||Brighton College||Coleg Sir Gar||Clifton College|
|Eltham College||Blundell’s||Coleg Gwent||Cowbridge||Hurst-pierpoint||Coleg y Cymoedd|
|Haileybury||Hymers College||Denstone College||Exeter College||Oaklands College||Harrow|
|Sedbergh||Ivybridge CC||Dulwich College||John Fisher||Robert Clack||Llandovery College|
|Windsor Boys’||St Joseph’s College||Sherborne||Warwick||St Benedict’s||Henley College|
|Group G||Group H||Group I||Group J||Group K||Group L|
|Bishop Burton||Barnard Castle||King’s Taunton||Hampton||Old Swinford||Brooksby Melton|
|Kirkham Grammar||Beechen Cliff||St Paul’s College||Neath Port Talbot||St John’s L’head||Cranleigh|
|Newport HS||Hartpury College||Stamford||Northampton SfB||Wellington College||Dean Close|
|Samuel Whitbread||Millfield||King John||Stowe||Whitgift||Moulton College|
|St Albans||St Laurence||Ysgol Glantaf||Woodhouse Grove||Ysgol Ystalyfera||Stonyhurst College|
To see the draws for the other tournaments, please follow these links: