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School Rugby

Schools Rugby Weekend Preview: Saturday 15th September

13th September 2018
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One week in and it is as if the rugby season never left us, such has been the volume and quality of the schools rugby season in this first week.

 

We head into the second Saturday of the season reflecting on a brilliant opening weekend of high quality matches and looking ahead to a set of fixtures that promises, if anything, to be even better.

 

For a few schools this is actually the opening weekend after some played friendlies or pre-season triangulars last weekend, or is some cases just did not yet have a game, now we see every school enter the fray.

 

Given some of last week’s performances and results, anticipation is high for this weekend – can schools reproduce the excitement and quality they showed last week, can those that were still a bit rusty get up to speed this week and show us all what they have in store for the rest of the season? It promises to be a fascinating weekend.

 

Focus On

 

Abingdon v Cranleigh

 

A hotly anticipated fixture this one, with Abingdon having been in pre-season conditions last weekend in a triangular with Colston’s and QEH, this week they will be hoping that the lessons learned there will having them ready for their opening home game of the season – on that outstanding 1st XV pitch of theirs. They welcome on of the top sides in the country of the last two or three years in the form of Cranleigh, and Cranleigh will be hurting after defeat to their great rivals Brighton College in their opener last week. Both are exceptionally well coached and will likely look to play as much as possible so we should be in for a game that is as entertaining as it is competitive.

 

Prediction: Cranleigh

Who will win Abingdon v Cranleigh?

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Bedford v Rugby

 

Bedford played Oundle and Eton College in a triangular last weekend with no-results published, making this their first proper fixture of the season, and you sense with a final warm-up of that caliber they will be in tip-top shape for this one. They are one of the most consistent performers of the decade and this current group will doubtless want to continue that, but they face a tough opponent on Saturday in the form of Rugby School, whose importance globally was shown on Wednesday when the newest World Rugby Hall of Fame inductees were toured around. Rugby got off to a cracking start against King’s Macclesfield last week but an away trip to Bedford is a tough fixture for anyone so we expect a very high quality clash on Saturday.

 

Prediction: Bedford

Who will win Bedford v Rugby?

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Brighton College v Hurstpierpoint College

 

There is so much to love about this fixture. For a start it is a derby game, for seconds both got off to brilliant starts, Brighton winning away at huge rivals Cranleigh and Hurstpierpoint landing a major scalp in the form of Tonbridge. Those are just minor plot points though, the major story is that last year Hurstpierpoint stunned Brighton College and beat them. It was not supposed to be that way, Brighton were one of the best sides in the country and a month later would win the St Joseph’s Festival. The cast might have changed considerably on either side, both might place less importance on results during the week as once they did, but there is no doubt at all that the Brighton College players will want payback. Hurstpierpoint’s players will be no less determined though, they will want to prove that last year and, far more importantly, last week were not one-offs. A win here would make everyone really sit up and take notice and herald a new side at the top end of the school game. It should make for an awesome Saturday afternoon on the south coast.

 

Prediction: Brighton College

Who will win Brighton College v Hurstpierpoint College?

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Dulwich College v Epsom College

 

A second home game in a row for Dulwich College who lost out to Wellington last week despite playing some excellent rugby. They are running it from everywhere and it is a thrill to watch but they will be keen to avoid falling to two defeats in in the opening two weeks, which would leave their record looking an awful lot worse that their true status. We can be sure then that this will be a 100% performance but it will be very tough indeed, Epsom College were absolutely flying in their opener last weekend, putting over fifty past St Paul’s. Saturday will be a step up but a win at Dulwich would suggest once again that Epsom are a side to really watch out for, which ought to make this a classic encounter.

 

Prediction: Epsom College

Who will win Dulwich College v Epsom College?

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Felsted v Haileybury

 

In recent years this has become a really exciting fixture between two sides that have been progressing up the school rugby ladder at a rapid rate. They had contrasting starts to the season though, both travelled away in fixtures that history suggested they ought to hold the upper hand in. Haileybury went Royal Hospital School and came away with a comfortable 22-3 victory but Felsted meanwhile went to Norwich School but were stunned in a close game, falling to a 24-22 defeat. Back at home, the Essex side will surely be determined to put that right in this fixture that has proved a quality game of the calendar for both schools of late. Many of the players know each other as a result of the Saracens Academy connection, adding another layer of intrigue but that will not make this any less competitive.

 

Prediction: Haileybury

Who will win Felsted v Haileybury?

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Millfield v RGS High Wycombe

 

Millfield started their season last weekend with a stunning win against Canford, a side that performed exceptionally last year, having also looked impressive in pre-season that suggest good things to come from Millfield. RGS High Wycombe’s season starts on Saturday and a trip to Millfield’s famous Jubilee pitch is about as tough an assignment as you can get to kick off with in schools rugby. RGS are not and never have been afraid of a tough assignment though, indeed they seem to revel in it. One only needs to look at how well they consistently perform at the St Joseph’s Festival to see that. Nevertheless, that dominant Millfield display against Canford last week was quite something and suggests that they are really firing this season. They play fast and from anywhere, and if they get some momentum they are going to be a tough side to stop this year.

 

Prediction: Millfield

Who will win Millfield v RGS High Wycombe?

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Stamford v Oakham

 

Oakham last week opened their account with a derby win in a very tough and close game against their oldest and nearest rivals, Uppingham. This week they meet another local rival in the form of Stamford, who have a relatively comfortable 26-7 win over Nottingham High School in their opening fixture. This will be a different kettle of fish, a high-level derby match that will take an impressive performance for either side to win it. These two have been the dominant pair in the region for a few years now making these matches all the more special, coming so early in the season it will be a huge confidence booster for the side that wins, and it should be a top quality game of rugby from both.

 

Prediction: Oakham

Who will win Stamford v Oakham?

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St Edward’s, Oxford v Marlborough College

 

This is usually an excellent game of rugby and there is a sense this year that both sides might be challenging even higher than last year potentially. St Edward’s are yet to lace their boots in anger this season but showed plenty of promise last year and are always an excellent side at home. With England having used their grounds for training in recent times too, there is plenty of inspiration around the place. Marlborough College got off to a wonderful start last weekend beating Stowe 39-14. That will fill them with confidence as they head to their first away game of the season, knowing that a second win will mark them out as having had a really excellent start to the season, setting them up for an impressive year.

 

Prediction: Marlborough College

Who will win St Edward's, Oxford v Marlborough College?

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Warwick v Harrow

 

A mighty game of rugby between two sides that have been right at the very top end of the school game over the last few years. Last year Warwick won the U18 Schools Cup, while Harrow enjoyed an unbeaten season. The two look no less formidable this year and started their seasons in excellent fashion last weekend, Warwick beating one of their big rivals, Bromsgrove, 29-10. Meanwhile Harrow beat Berkhamsted, a side with plenty of quality, 27-17. This will be a massive game, and one that really could go either way. It will be oh so tough for whichever side loses but a treat for anyone watching as it will surely be a game between two sides that will be challenging right at the top end once again.

 

Prediction: Harrow

Who will win Warwick v Harrow?

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Woodhouse Grove v QEGS Wakefield

 

This game fascinates us. Both sides enjoyed good success last year, Woodhouse Grove winning the U18 Schools Plate and QEGS Wakefield reaching the U18 Schools Cup final. Saturday’s game looks very tight, both seem likely to be evenly matched. Confidence wise though, Woodhouse Grove may just have the edge. On Saturday they beat St Peter’s York, a side that had the edge on them at 1st XV and Colts level last year. Having taken that scalp they will fancy their chances against another side that just held the upper hand last year in QEGS. QEGS themselves had a tough weekend last time out, they were beaten by Lancaster Royal Grammar School in a surprise result. It may still have been viewed as something of a pre-season game but it will have hurt the confidence. Nevertheless, QEGS are a top side and a proud school and few would back against them coming out firing on Saturday in this huge local game.

 

Prediction: Woodhouse Grove

Who will win Woodhouse Grove v QEGS Wakefield?

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Around the Grounds

 

Our ten ‘Focus On’ games are far from the only ones to keep an eye on this week, indeed every game has something worth looking into. Among the others that look particularly exciting though is Campion v Eltham College. Campion had a fantastic season last year and started with a good win over St Benedict’s last week, but Eltham have started with a bang too, they had a superb victory over Judd on Saturday.

 

Berkhamsted looked good on Saturday despite defeat to Harrow, they have their first home game of the season where they host Eton College, who were involved in that triangular at Bedford last week. It ought to prove a close and exciting game of rugby.

 

Cheltenham College went unbeaten last year and kicked off this year in excellent fashion with a 20-0 win over Malvern College, they will be hoping for more of the same on Saturday against a Stowe side with plenty to prove after their opening day defeat to Marlborough College.

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Moving north, Durham will be looking to pick up a win after their derby day defeat to RGS Newcastle at Kingston Park last week, they face a Grammar School at Leeds side that got off to a strong start with an away win at Manchester Grammar. There is also a fascinating game between King’s Macclesfield and Lancaster RGS. King’s Macclesfield lost down at Rugby but performed well last week, while in their final warm up fixture LRGS took the prize scalp of QEGS Wakefield and will be positively bubbling with confidence.

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Fresh from their heroics against Felsted last week, Norwich host Royal Hospital School, who will want to bounce back from defeat to Haileybury. Staying in East Anglia, meanwhile, The Leys host Gresham’s. The Leys got off to a flyer last weekend against Bedford Modern but Gresham’s will be a tough opponent, the Norfolk side beat Framlingham comfortably last time out.

 

Oundle v Bromsgrove is usually a good game, two sides with plenty of pedigree. Oundle will be well warmed up after last week’s triangular with Bedford and Eton College and the first game at their brilliant enclosed 1st XV pitch is always a special occasion. Bromsgrove will be fired up after their opening day defeat to rivals Warwick though and will not want to lose two from two.

 

Elsewhere Sherborne look to bounce back from a narrow defeat to Bishop Wordsworth’s but face a tricky trip to Radley College, for whom this is their first game of the season. Bishop Wordsworth’s themselves have an interesting game on Saturday as they look to back up that performance on their trip to St Paul’s, who will be eager to recover after that tough start last week at Epsom.

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Sedbergh meanwhile, fresh from last week’s heroic last play victory over Whitgift, are on the road again. They head to RGS Newcastle who are full of confidence after victory at Kingston Park last week against old rivals Durham.

 

In the Midlands there is a hugely exciting game at Solihull, who were in flying form last week against King’s Worcester. They host Denstone College, who enjoyed a stellar season last year and started with a bang against Langley last week. A good win here would signal good things to come from Denstone.

 

In Croydon there is one of three massive derbies this season, the first sees Trinity host John Fisher. These two might not quite have the rivalry of John Fisher and Whitgift, but this is still a massive game for both.

 

Meanwhile in the South West there is a gem of an early season game with two sides that are looking bang in form meet for a key match. Sir Thomas Rich’s, who beat Bristol Grammar last week, host a Clifton College side that were magnificent in victory at Monmouth last weekend, setting up for a classic on Saturday.

 

Triangulars

 

Saturday also sees a few Triangulars take place, including one very exciting one in Kent as three top school sides gather. Tonbridge will host St John’s Leatherhead and a Hampton side that are already off to a flier in what should prove one of the most entertaining sets of games of the lot.

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Also in Kent we see Duke of York’s Royal Military School host Kent College and Ashford, while in the South West West Buckland welcome Mount Kelly and the Exeter School 2nd XV.

 

Friday

 

Friday is packed with exciting fixtures, among them a great derby between Mill Hill and St Albans, a game that is always a real spectacle.

 

Pate’s Grammar School have a tricky trip ahead of them to the mighty Hartpury College, while Mount St Mary’s College look to maintain their winning start when they welcome Birkdale.

 

There is another derby on Friday, this time out near Birmingham where KES Five Ways host KES Birmingham in what is expected to be a really well-contested affair that should produce plenty of entertainment. Warminster, meanwhile, welcome Wells Cathedral on Friday evening too.

 

A reminder that we welcome any photos, videos, and reports from your school’s games – the more the merrier! You can send them in to us via any of the methods below:

Twitter: @FifteenRugbyXV

Facebook: www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby

Instagram: @fifteenrugbyxv

Email: writers@fifteenrugby.com

Images via Chris Lishman Photography: https://www.chrislishman.com 

 

Schools Rugby Weekend Fixtures – Saturday 15th September (predictions in bold):

 

Focus On

 

Abingdon v Cranleigh

Bedford v Rugby

Brighton College v Hurstpierpoint College

Dulwich College v Epsom College

Felsted v Haileybury

Millfield v RGS High Wycombe

Stamford v Oakham

St Edward’s, Oxford v Marlborough College

Warwick v Harrow

Woodhouse Grove v QEGS Wakefield

 

Saturday Fixtures

 

Ampleforth College v Dame Allan’s

Ashville College v Harrogate GS

Austin Friars v Newcastle School for Boys

Bedford Modern v Aylesbury GS

Bell Baxter v Glenalmond College

Berkhamsted v Eton College

Bishop’s Stortford College v St Edmund’s College

Bishop’s Stortford HS v New Hall

Bloxham v Malvern College

Blundell’s 2nd XV v Queen’s College, Taunton

Bolton v Liverpool College

Bristol GS v KES Bath

Campion v Eltham College

Cardinal Vaughan v Gunnersbury

Cheltenham College v Stowe

Christ College, Brecon v Ellesmere College

City of London Freemen’s v Wimbledon College

Clayesmore v King’s Bruton

Colfe’s v Bancroft’s

Colston’s v RGS Worcester

Crossley Heath v Bradford GS

Culford v RGS Colchester

Dartford GS v Coopers’ Coborn

Dauntsey’s v Churcher’s College

Dollar Academy v Edinburgh Academy

Downside v Monkton Combe

Dundee HS v Robert Gordon’s College

Durham v Grammar School at Leeds

Enfield GS v Richard Hale

Glasgow Academy v Kelvinside Academy

Glyn v Reigate GS

Hitchin v Haberdashers’

Hymers College v Barnard Castle

Ipswich v Framlingham College

KES Camp Hill v Bablake

KES Southampton v The Oratory

King’s Canterbury v Caterham

King Henry VIII, Coventry v KES Stratford

King’s Macclesfield v Lancaster RGS

Kingswood v Taunton

Judd v Brentwood

Langley Park v Chislehurst & Sidcup GS

Latymer Upper v UCS

Leicester GS v Langley

The Leys v Gresham’s

London Oratory v St Benedict’s

Lord Wandsworth College v Portsmouth GS

Loughborough GS v Trent College

Lymm HS v Sandbach

Maidstone GS v Gravesend GS

Manchester GS v Stockport GS

Merchant Taylors’ v KCS Wimbledon

Merchiston Castle v Stewart’s Melville

Northampton School for Boys v Kirkham GS

Norwich v Royal Hospital School

Nottingham HS v Bishop Vesey’s GS

Old Swinford Hospital v Monmouth

Oundle v Bromsgrove

The Perse v Uppingham

Plymouth College v Blundell’s

Prior Park College v King’s College, Taunton

QES Barnet v St Ignatius College

Radley College v Sherborne

Ratcliffe College v Princethorpe College

Reed’s v RGS Guildford

RGS Newcastle v Sedbergh

Seaford College v Whitgift

Sevenoaks v Worth

Shiplake College v Reading Blue Coat

Sir Thomas Rich’s v Clifton College

Skinners’ v Eastbourne College

Solihull v Denstone College

St Ambrose College v Hutton GS

St George’s College, Weybridge v Pangbourne College

St Lawrence College v King’s Rochester

St Mary’s College v Rydal Penrhos

St Paul’s v Bishop Wordsworth’s

St Peter’s, Gloucester v King’s Worcester

Strathallan v George Watson’s

Sutton Valence v Christ’s Hospital

Tiffin v Wallington CGS

Trinity v John Fisher

Truro v Ivybridge Community College

Watford GS v St Columba’s College

Wellingborough v Wisbech GS

Wellington v QEH

Wilmslow HS v Altrincham GS

Woodbridge v King’s Ely

Worksop College v St Peter’s, York

Wycliffe College v Hereford Cathedral

Yarm v Silcoates

 

Triangulars:

 

West Buckland: Mount Kelly, West Buckland, Exeter School 2nd XV

Duke of York’s Royal Military School: Kent College, Ashford, Duke of York’s RMS

Tonbridge: St John’s Leatherhead, Hampton, Tonbridge

 

Friday

 

Hartpury College v Pate’s GS

KES Five Ways v KES Birmingham

Mill Hill v St Albans

Mount St Mary’s College v Birkdale

Warminster v Wells Cathedral