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School Rugby

Schools Rugby Weekend Preview: Saturday 14th September

13th September 2019
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After a brilliant opening weekend of the season it feels like a fast turnaround for what looks like being a thrilling second weekend of action.

 

Indeed for a few schools this is the first weekend and first game, so there will still be a fair few sides bursting with energy and excitement to simply get out there on the pitch.

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It is an interesting weekend too, there are a few games around with extra weight added on them as the double up as knockout games. The first game of this years Champions Trophy will be taking place (see the full draw here), and there a few Schools Cup games too after champions Whitgift kicked the tournament off on Wednesday with a thumping win (you can also see that draw here).

 

First though we begin, as ever, with the our ten ‘Focus On’ fixtures, ten key fixtures that we have picked out for the weekend, and it begins with that Champions Trophy game.

 

Focus On

 

Bedford v Rugby (Champions Trophy)

 

There are actually only four first round Champions Trophy games, with swathes of byes early on. Clifton v Monmouth and RGS Guildford v Bryanston are on the 26th, while on the 2nd October Hampton host Tonbridge. Before all of that though the 2015 champions, Bedford, host new entrants Rugby School. Bedford got off to a tough start to the season with a loss at Oundle, while Rugby have been earmarked as a side to watch and proved it with a superb win at home to Oakham last week. It suggest that Rugby are favourites, but at home in a competition they love, Bedford are not a side to overlook at all. Either way, it’s the Champions Trophy so drama is almost guaranteed! (Click here for the full first round draw.)

 

Prediction: Rugby

Who will win Bedford v Rugby?

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Bromsgrove v Oundle

 

Two sides that got themselves off to fantastic starts last weekend. Oundle were in fine form at home to Bedford and showed plenty of promise for the season. Bromsgrove meanwhile were up against their old rivals Warwick and were really in fantastic form. They took the win and did so in fairly commanding fashion within the context of the game, marking them out as a side to watch. We should learn a lot for the season ahead from this game, both sides started with good wins over historically strong opponents, a second such victory would mark a very strong start.

 

Prediction: Bromsgrove

Who will win Bromsgrove v Oundle?

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Hurstpierpoint College v Brighton College

 

This is a fixture that over the last couple of years has developed into a really good rivalry, starting really when Hurstpierpoint stunned everyone with a victory over Brighton. Brighton have continued to stay right at the top of the school game while Hurstpierpoint have grown and grown, to the point where this year both are considered to be likely to be top sides. Hurstpierpoint were dealt a blow last week though, losing their opener to a very good Seaford College side and a 0-2 start would be tough to take, however facing a superb Brighton College side that were looking good in victory over St John’s last week means they have a big challenge. What that should mean is that we get a fantastic contest on Saturday, a real game to keep and eye on.

 

Prediction: Brighton College

Who will win Hurstpierpoint College v Brighton College?

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Oakham v Stamford

 

This is always a fun local derby between two sides that in the last five years or so have generally had one or the other up there among the tip sides around. Stamford got off to a flyer away at Nottingham High School last week and to back that up with victory at Oakham really would put a huge amount of wind in their sails. Oakham will not make it easy for them though, having lost at Rugby last weekend you can be sure that on their return to Doncaster Close they will be full of energy and excitement and ready to impress what is sure to be a big pitchside crowd.

 

Prediction: Oakham

Who will win Oakham v Stamford?

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QEGS Wakefield v Woodhouse Grove

 

A massive West Yorkshire battle between two sides that in the last three or four years have been absolutely magnificent. QEGS had a bit of a down year last year after a long period of real consistency, while Woodhouse Grove were without doubt one of the very best around. However, Woodhouse Grove lost to another Yorkshire powerhouse, St Peter’s York, in their opener last week and will be very keen to get straight back to winning ways. A trip to QEGS is no easy task though, so expect a bit of a schools rugby classic to unfold especially in what should be superb conditions.

 

Prediction: Woodhouse Grove

Who will win QEGS Wakefield v Woodhouse Grove?

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RGS High Wycombe v Millfield

 

Two sides with so much history in the school game, and both got off to winning starts on Saturday. RGS have had a quiet couple of seasons by their exceptional standards but got off to a winning start on Saturday, albeit a tight one against Reading Blue Coat. Millfield will be an altogether different proposition though, they are always right in amounts the best four of five in the country and got their season off to a strong start with a win at Canford. They will be eager to get some real momentum behind them in this early stage of the season and start as favourites, but nonetheless, this is a game between two of the real historical heavyweights of the school game, one that has seen some absolute classics down the years.

 

Prediction: Millfield

Who will win RGS High Wycombe v Millfield?

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Seaford College v Eastbourne College

 

Off the back of last week’s results, this was a fixture that absolutely screamed out at us. Both ended up in our Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend as a result, and are absolutely one of the fixtures we will be keeping a beady eye on this week. Seaford College made a real statement with their victory at home to Hurstpierpoint College, a result that marked them out as a side to look out for, while Eastbourne College were in simply stunning form away at Portsmouth Grammar. They won that 50-7 and then backed it up in midweek with a Schools Vase win over Worthing, could they make it three in 8 days? It will be a tough ask, but one well worth watching.

 

Prediction: Seaford College

Who will win Seaford College v Eastbourne College?

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Sedbergh v RGS Newcastle

 

Both sides were in our Focus On fixtures last week and both sides won, Sedbergh with a superb performance at their Buskhome ground vs Whitgift, and RGS Newcastle looking dominant against Durham at Newcastle Falcons’ Kingston Park. It is a meeting of two dominant sides from last year, Sedbergh winning the Daily Mail Trophy, Rosslyn Park 7s, and Sedbergh 10s for the second straight year, and RGS winning the prestigious St Joseph’s Festival. It should make for a fantastic afternoon on Saturday, certainly one of the blockbuster fixtures of the weekend, and one that should tell us a lot about these two sides.

 

Prediction: Sedbergh

Who will win Sedbergh v RGS Newcastle?

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Sherborne v Radley College

 

It’s a first foray of the season for Radley College, who had a fine season last year that included a victory in the corresponding fixture. A repeat of that would be a strong achievement, Sherborne got off to a cracking start last year with a fairly dominant victory over Bishop Wordsworth’s so they will arrive with their tails up. Nevertheless, they will face a Radley side that’ll be bouncing full of energy, eager to kick off their season. The first twenty minutes could be lightening fast, particularly as conditions look set to be fast and dry. Whatever happens, it should be fun!

 

Prediction: Sherborne

Who will win Sherborne v Radley College?

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St Joseph’s College v Dulwich College

 

This fixture is a welcome addition to the Saturday block schedule. In years gone by these two have met often at the St Joseph’s Festival but you have to go back to some of Dulwich’s runs to Schools Cup glory for full length fifteen-a-side meeting, and boy were they some cracking contests. The two got off to contrasting starts last week, St Joseph’s sailed to victory at home to Bishop’s Stortford, while Dulwich had a tough trip to Wellington College. Do not read too much into that though, these are two fine rugby schools and teams. What you can read into last weekend though and this fixture is that St Joseph’s are now giving their pre-Festival fixtures everything. In years gone by they perhaps were more experimental early on, now it’s full gas from the off.

 

Prediction: St Joseph’s College

Who will win St Joseph's College v Dulwich College?

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Saturday Fixtures

 

Of course the good rugby does not end with those ten fixtures though, not by a long stretch. Up and down the country the quality and intrigue of fixtures is enormous. There are two Schools Cup games that should be of plenty of interest too, in London & South East Campion will host Eltham College in what should be a really cracking contest, Campion had a brilliant win last week while Eltham lost a thriller, leaving this one feeling like it could go either way. Over in South West B Portsmouth Grammar School make the trip to Lord Wandsworth College and will want to get right back on the horse after a tough old loss last weekend.

 

For the full Schools Cup draw, click here

 

There are plenty of other cracking games on the calendar too, Eton College v Berkhamsted being one, both sides lost last week, to John Fisher and Harrow respectively, and will be eager to bounce back fast and we could well see a great game.

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John Fisher meanwhile will want to back that win up from Saturday after losing out to Hampton in midweek. It is the first Croydon derby of the season as they host Trinity in what is the sky blues’ first official game of the season.

 

Harrow v Warwick promises to be an absolute blockbuster of a fixture. These two have been among the best in the game in recent seasons and will surely be again. Both had tough games last weekend, Harrow coming through against an excellent Berkhamsted side while Warwick lost out to their great local rivals, Bromsgrove. Warwick will be a wounded animal, but Harrow are a top class side. It could go either way.

 

Kirkham Grammar got off to an absolute flyer last week and will hope to back that up against a tricky Wirral Grammar side. Across in Yorkshire, St Peter’s host Mount St Mary’s, two sides that have started well with wins over Woodhouse Grove and Argentina’s Cardinal Newman respectively, it could make for one of the games of the weekend. Meanwhile further north there is a massive game in Scotland as two of the biggest names in Scottish schools rugby go together, George Watson’s College and Merchiston Castle.

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Both St Paul’s and Abingdon had decent starts last week, St Paul’s may have lost to Epsom but it was a decent contest, while Abingdon won the Oxford derby against Teddies, so this one between them should be a cracker. As should Stowe v Cheltenham College, traditionally always a fun fixture it should be again, Stowe want to bounce back from defeat, while Cheltenham want to build on victory over Malvern College.

 

In the South West there are some cracking games this weekend, not least Canford v Blundell’s, two sides that have had cracking times in recent years. Look out also for Clifton College v Sir Thomas Rich’s, both had excellent seasons last year and could put on a bit of a show.

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Moving back towards London there is an interesting fixture at Cranleigh, they got off to a fine start last week and will hope for more of the same, however they face a wounded Bishop Wordsworth’s side that will be eager to bounce back from last week’s loss to Sherborne. Up the road a bit more, Epsom College are looking two make it two from two when they host RGS Guildford, who are also looking for a solid 2/2 start to the season.

 

Back in the Northern section, Barnard Castle enjoyed a stunning victory last week and will be after more of exactly the same at home to Hymers College on Saturday, meanwhile Lancaster RGS host a wounded King’s Macclesfield in what is often a superb game of rugby.

 

Also looking to bounce back are Caterham, they welcome King’s Canterbury, who are also looking for a win after the narrowest of losses last weekend. Elsewhere it is worth keeping an eye on Leicester Grammar v Langley, which could be an exciting game, so too The Perse’s trip to Uppingham, both got off to winning starts last weekend.

 

It is just a ten minute drive from Shiplake College to Reading Blue Coat, so expect Saturday to have plenty of pitchside support, and indeed a superb game of rugby. There could also be a cracking game in Hertfordshire as Haileybury welcome Felsted to town, both were in good form last week.

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There is an exciting new fixture on the card as Wellington College, the schools rugby legends, make the trip to Northampton School for Boys, whose record in recent years is absolutely magnificent. The hosts will be absolutely firing for this one and we should get a passionate and high quality game. Whitgift are also in action, looking to bounce back from defeat to Sedbergh against a Wimbledon College side, who had a strong victory last time out. Sevenoaks and Reigate Grammar both had really strong wins last week and now meet on Saturday in what could be a superb game based on last week’s indications.

 

A game that really captures the imagination is Marlborough College v St Edward’s, Oxford. Two big traditional bases going head to head. Marlborough got off to a good start last week with a win over Stowe, while Teddies lost out to Abingdon in the Oxford derby. So Marlborough probably start as favourites, but expect a good game.

 

There are also a couple of triangulars, St John’s Leatherhead host a really high level duo in the form of Tonbridge and Hampton after the success of last year’s meeting between the three. Expect plenty of experimentation, but also some seriously top quality rugby. The other takes place in the South West as Mount Kelly, West Buckland, and Exeter come together for what should also be a really fun few games of rugby.

 

Schools Rugby Weekend Fixtures – Saturday 14th September (predictions in bold):

 

Focus On

 

Bedford v Rugby (Champions Trophy)

Bromsgrove v Oundle

Hurstpierpoint College v Brighton College

Oakham v Stamford

QEGS Wakefield v Woodhouse Grove

RGS High Wycombe v Millfield

Seaford College v Eastbourne College

Sedbergh v RGS Newcastle

Sherborne v Radley College

St Joseph’s College v Dulwich College

 

Saturday

 

Adams GS v King Henry VIII, Coventry

Altrincham GS v Wilmslow HS

Austin Friars v Newcastle SfB

Bablake v KES Camp Hill

Bancroft’s v Colfe’s

Barnard Castle v Hymers College

Bedford Modern v St Albans

Bishop’s Stortford College v St Edmund’s College

Bishop Vesey’s GS v Nottingham HS

Bloxham v Malvern College

Brentwood v Judd 2nd XV

Campion v Eltham College (Schools Cup)

Canford v Blundell’s

Cardinal Vaughan v Gunnersbury

Caterham v King’s Canterbury

Cheadle Hulme v St Anselm’s College

Chislehurst & Sidcup GS v Langley Park

Clifton College v Sir Thomas Rich’s

Cranbrook v St Olave’s GS

Cranleigh v Bishop Wordsworth’s

Crossley Heath v Bradford GS

Dame Allan’s v Ampleforth College

Dauntsey’s v Bryanston

Denstone College v Solihull

Duke of York’s RMS v St Dunstan’s College

Edinburgh Academy v Dollar Academy

Ellesmere College v Christ College

Epsom College v RGS Guildford

Eton College v Berkhamsted

Fettes College v Loretto

Framlingham College v Ipswich

George Watson’s College v Merchiston Castle

Glyn v City of London Freemen’s

Grammar School at Leeds v Durham

Gravesend GS v Maidstone GS

Gresham’s v The Leys

Haberdashers’ v Hitchin Boys

Haileybury v Felsted

Harrow v Warwick

Hereford Cathedral School v Wycliffe College

John Fisher v Trinity

Kelvinside Academy v St Aloysius’ College

KES Bath v Bristol GS

KES Stratford v Lawrence Sheriff

King’s Bruton v Clayesmore

King’s College, Taunton v Dean Close

King’s Worcester v St Peter’s, Glocuester

Lancaster RGS v King’s Macclesfield

Latymer Upper v Cobham International

Leicester GS v Langley

Llandovery College v Plymouth College

Lord Wandsworth College v Portsmouth GS (Schools Cup)

Marlborough College v St Edward’s, Oxford

Mill Hill v Watford GS

Monkton Combe v Prior Park College

Monmouth v Old Swinford Hospital

Mount Kelly v West Buckland v Exeter (Triangular)

Newcastle Under Lyme v Birkenhead

New Hall v Bishop’s Stortford HS

Northampton SfB v Wellington College

The Oratory v KES Southampton

Pangbourne College v St George’s College, Weybridge

Pocklington v Giggleswick

Princethorpe College v Ratcliffe College

QEH v Wellington

Queen’s College, Taunton v Downside

Reading Blue Coat v Shiplake College

Reed’s v KCS Wimbledon

RGS Colchester v Culford

RGS Worcester v Colston’s

Richard Hale v UCS

Robert Gordon’s College v Dundee HS

Royal Hospital School v Norwich

Sandbach v Lymm HS

Sevenoaks v Reigate GS

Silcoates v Yarm

Sir Joseph Williamson’s v Simon Langton GS

Skinners’ v Ravens Wood

St Benedict’s v London Oratory

St Columba’s College v Aylesbury GS

St Ignatius College v QES Barnet

St John’s Leatherhead v Tonbridge v Hampton (Triangular)

St Paul’s v Abingdon

St Peter’s, York v Mount St Mary’s

Stockport GS v Manchester GS

Stonyhurst College v AKS Lytham

Stowe v Cheltenham College

Strathallan v Stewart’s Melville

Taunton v Kingswood

Trent College v Loughborough GS

Uppingham v The Perse

Wallington CGS v Tiffin

Whitgift v Wimbledon College

Whitgift 2nd XV v Christ’s Hospital

Wirral GS v Kirkham GS

Wisbech GS v Wellingborough

Woodbridge v King’s Ely

Worth v Wellington College 3rd XV

Wrekin College v Abraham Darby

 

Friday

 

Glenalmond College v Cardinal Newman (Argentina)

Hartpury College 3rd XV v Pate’s GS