The long awaited return of the Schools Rugby season begins quietly this midweek with a handful of fixtures across the country.
Saturday is when the action really gets underway but some strong sides are in action ahead of the big kick off, not least two side who greatly impressed at some of the weekend’s big pre-season Festivals, Hampton and Kirkham Grammar School.
Hampton were runners up at the President’s Cup at Esher RFC on Friday before winning the South Coast Kings tournament at KES Southampton on Sunday, while Kirkham Grammar School were unbeaten and looking impressive at the Wisbech Grammar School Festival on Saturday.
Both sides face tough opening competitive fixtures this week though. Hampton are in action away at John Fisher on Wednesday, and while Hampton may have beaten their hosts at the President’s Cup on Friday, they will need no more reminding than you our readers of the quality and passion that always stems from the Croydon school.
It marks a fantastic way to kick off the new season though, with two big huge names in schools rugby getting us underway on Wednesday afternoon.
For Kirkham it is a slightly longer wait, they travel to Oswestry RFC for a massive cross-border clash on Friday evening (5pm kick off) against Welsh giants Llandovery College. Over the last few years Kirkham have firmly established themselves as one of the very strongest handful of sides in the country and pre-season form suggests a similar fate this year, but in Llandovery they face a huge test for an opening game as they are a side with similar ambitions.
Back to Wednesday, where there is plenty of other top quality rugby besides John Fisher v Hampton. Cheadle Hulme v Lymm High School is a fantastic start to the season in the North West, featuring two schools that regularly make a big mark on Saturdays and in the Cups and will be looking to do so again this year.
Last season England Rugby Travel helped us develop our School Team of the Year and Emerging School Team of the Year awards. Sedbergh picked up the School Team of the Year award after their spectacular season that saw them win the Daily Mail Trophy, HSBC Rosslyn Park National School 7s, and the Sedbergh 10s. Hayes School meanwhile picked up the Emerging Team award after a brilliant year saw them rise from a relatively unknown rugby force to a very serious side who emerged as real contenders in the Schools Vase competition.
Hayes kick off this season away at Robert Clack on Wednesday, where they will be looking to demonstrate that they are no longer simply emerging but are now a firm force to be reckoned with.
One very firmly established side are King’s Worcester. They begin their campaign in their traditional manner against local rivals KES Five Ways, this season travelling to Five Ways for the fixture that always kicks the season off nicely for both sides.
The South West meanwhile sees former Schools Cup winners St Peter’s Gloucester host Henley College Coventry for what ought to be another fun start to the season for both sides. Over in Hertfordshire QES Barnet start their season off, after a good showing at the weekend, with a trip to Tring.
With a full set of fixtures to come on Saturday, the next few days ought to whet the appetite brilliantly ahead of a season that promises to be full of exciting rugby if the weekend’s final pre-season outings were anything to go by.
Finally, the season kicks off!
p.s Predictions are always somewhat of a lottery at this time of the year, but we’ve made a few anyway just for a bit of fun – no doubt many will prove us wrong over the next few days, and many more throughout the season!
Schools Rugby Midweek Fixtures (predictions in bold):
Cheadle Hulme v Lymm High School
John Fisher v Hampton
KES Five Ways v King’s Worcester
Robert Clack v Hayes
St Peter’s Gloucester v Henley College, Coventry
Tring v QES Barnet
Llandovery College v Kirkham Grammar School (Oswestry RFC, 5pm ko)