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School Rugby

Schools Rugby Weekend Preview: Saturday 16th November

14th November 2019
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This weekend has the potential to be a key one in the 2019/20 Schools Rugby season as a number of the top sides in the country with unbeaten records go head to head.

 

With some of those sides also involved in Champions Trophy semi final action in midweek, it sets up for a few days of action that could come to define the narrative of the season when we look back on it in a few month’s time.

 

Of course every game is a big game for each school, each weekend, and as the season ticks forward they become ever bigger, especially for the U6th for whom these are their final few weeks wearing their prestigious school shirts.

 

It makes each of these remaining weeks particularly special and makes them even more exciting for those of us on the outside looking in, and looking ahead to this weekend there really are some spectacular games, beginning with of ten ‘Focus On’ fixtures.

 

Focus On

 

Abingdon v Radley College

 

The final derby in the tri-school series in Oxford between Abingdon, Radley College, and St Edward’s. Both sides have already beaten St Edward’s, so the victor on Saturday will be top of the pile in this unofficial mini series. Abingdon have been having a great season, only Sherborne and St Paul’s have got the better of them, while Radley College have found the going tougher, that victory over St Edward’s is their only one so far. Nevertheless what it demonstrates is that these big local games throw form out of the window to an extent, these are up there as the biggest of the year and as such the emotion and support are huge, there are just three miles between the two. It should be a special Saturday afternoon.

 

Prediction: Abingdon

Who will win Abingdon v Radley College?

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Barnard Castle v St Peter’s York

 

Were it not for a couple of points swinging the other way this could have been a regional final in the Schools Cup, as it is the two meet this weekend not with silverware at the front of the minds, but of adding to what has already been a brilliant season. Recent form points towards a fantastic and close game, in that Cup game last week Barnard Castle faced RGS Newcastle, going down by just two points. On Saturday St Peter’s met the same opponents, holding off a late fightback for a three point victory. It leaves this game looking right in the balance, perhaps home advantage edges it Barnard Castle’s way, but then the boost St Peter’s will have from last week will have them full of confidence. It is not one to be missed.

 

Prediction: Barnard Castle

Who will win Barnard Castle v St Peter's, York?

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Bradford Grammar v QEGS Wakefield

 

Bradford Grammar School are enjoying a really strong season, and while QEGS Wakefield are not at the heights we have sometime seen in other years, they have had some strong results too. Undoubtedly they will be one of the biggest, if not the outright biggest, challenges of the season for Bradford Grammar. Victory for Bradford Grammar would be huge, but equally a victory against a side with such a strong record so far this year it would be a huge result for QEGS Wakefield should they get the job done. It should make for a fantastic game of rugby, hopefully one able to take place despite some of the horrific weather conditions in the area.

 

Prediction: Bradford Grammar

Who will win Bradford Grammar v QEGS Wakefield?

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Clifton College v Wellington College

 

One of the biggest games of the season to date. Without question these are two of the strongest teams in the country, their records this season are astonishing. Clifton College are unbeaten bar one game, a Champions Trophy tie at Oakham where they were without a number of key players, a run that has included victories over Millfield and Sherborne among others. Wellington College meanwhile are unbeaten, have won the St Joseph’s Festival, and are in the Champions Trophy semi finals as they seek to retain their title. Perhaps that semi final on Wednesday could play a factor in this game, it will be a stretch of resources to contest both at full strength. One way or another, we are in for one of the key games of the season at Clifton College on Saturday, whichever side emerges victorious will move a step further in the conversation as to who the very best in the country are this year.

 

Prediction: Wellington College

Who will win Clifton College v Wellington College?

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Cranleigh v Epsom College

 

Another absolute gem of a game between two sides with unbeaten records this season and who can be considered among the best around. This is probably the toughest test that each of them has faced though, although there have been some top fixtures for both along the way. It’s a head to head of epic proportions, Epsom might just be the more battle hardened of the two, such has been the intensity of their fixtures of late, however it is tight, and Epsom College have a Champions Trophy semi final against Wellington College on Wednesday to think about, too. That sort of schedule is tough, but they will know that victory will give them some irresistible momentum, however Cranleigh will rightly feel that a victory for them would give them the opportunity for a real challenge at both the Daily Mail Trophy title and an unbeaten season. It hangs in the balance, and should be one of the top games not just of the weekend, but of the season.

 

Prediction: Epsom College

Who will win Cranleigh v Epsom College?

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Dulwich College v Whitgift

 

This has been a bit of a classic fixture down the years and, though injuries have made life tricky for Dulwich in recent weeks, it remains a massive fixture on the calendar. The home side will be determined to get back on the horse after back to back defeats, and they have shown over and over that when there is a challenge laid down, they rise up to it. They got to within six points of Wellington College in the Champions Trophy quarter final, nobody else has come close to that. Whitgift meanwhile are in great form, they are unbeaten since mid-September and even then it was only Sedbergh and Wellington College that had got the better of them, they are one of the top sides around and Saturday should be a bumper fixture.

 

Prediction: Whitgift

Who will win Dulwich College v Whitgift?

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Millfield v Cheltenham College

 

Another belter as Millfield old boy Olly Morgan takes his charges across to his old stomping ground. He takes a side that should be brimming with confidence, too. The outstanding Rugby School are the only side to have got the better of Cheltenham so far this season and they kicked off this second half of term in style last weekend as they beat a Hartpury College XV, a feat very few sides manage. By their own very high standards Millfield’s season has been mixed, but they posses a backline that is surely one of the most dangerous in the country, if the excellent grounds staff can manage to fight off the effects of the recent weather and there is a decent track, they can cause carnage. It should make for a really good contest, two teams that love to play expressive expansive rugby.

 

Prediction: Millfield

Who will win Millfield v Cheltenham College?

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RGS High Wycombe v Bromsgrove

 

Both of these sides are having excellent years, only twice have Bromsgrove been beaten, by Millfield and at the death by Stamford, on Wednesday they face old rivals Warwick in a Schools Cup regional final. RGS High Wycombe, meanwhile, have beaten Millfield, amongst others, in what was a stunning first half of term. This second half of term has been a trickier start, two defeats from two, but they were narrow and to top teams. They will be determined to bounce back on Saturday, and it seems likely that conditions will suit them. Bromsgrove were outstanding in tough conditions last time out though and with this being such a key week in their season they will be utterly determined to keep the momentum going right though into that massive Cup tie.

 

Prediction: Bromsgrove

Who will win RGS High Wycombe v Bromsgrove?

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Seaford College v Canford (Schools Cup)

 

Speaking of key Cup ties, the last of the Schools Cup regional semi finals takes place on Saturday with Seaford College hosting Canford in South West B. The winner will travel to Abingdon for the regional final after they beat RGS High Wycombe by a point in the last round, so these two will doubtless also be keeping an eye on the Oxford derby on Saturday. Looking at the game though, it ought to be a top match. They are both enjoying absolutely brilliant seasons, only Champions Trophy semi finalists Hampton have beaten Seaford, while Canford are unbeaten in term time, the only blemishes (if you can even call them that) being a defeat to the mighty Blackrock College on tour to Ireland in half term, and missing out in a pre-season training game to Millfield. So we are looking at two excellent sides going head to head on Saturday and with a huge amount at stake. It should be outstanding viewing.

 

Prediction: Canford

Who will win Seaford College v Canford?

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Warwick v Sedbergh – Cancelled

 

Sadly cancelled, though with the other fixtures in the block still going ahead it is not as a result of the weather.

 

 

Saturday

 

Outside of our Focus On fixtures the massive fixtures just keep on coming. Brighton College will be eager to bounce back from a tough outing at Epsom last time out, they host an Eastbourne College side though that are playing some good rugby and who picked up a good victory in the Schools Vase in midweek.

 

Haileybury are a side that need huge recognition for their work this season, they remain undefeated but have a real humdinger on Saturday as they host a strong St John’s Leatherhead side to town, probably their toughest opponents of the year and a side with huge confidence after a win at The Stoop in midweek.

 

Elsewhere look out for the very much in form Tonbridge, like Haileybury one of our Top 5 from last weekend, they travel to King’s Canterbury looking to extend their brilliant run of recent games. The side that Tonbridge beat last time out, St Paul’s, are in action on Saturday in another massive game as they host Eton College.

 

John Fisher are also full of confidence after a great win over Dulwich College last week, they are hosting Campion, who have been fantastic all year. It should be an epic game, a clash that could be one of the most memorable for the winners.

 

Woodhouse Grove warm up for their key Schools Cup regional final in midweek by welcoming impressive opponents in the form of Durham on Saturday for what should be an excellent game.

 

In East Anglia there are some cracking games, not least a Norfolk v Suffolk derby as Norwich host Ipswich in rugby’s version of the Canaries against the Tractor Boys, while Felsted host Royal Hospital School. Over in Cambridge there is a massive Schools Vase game as the 2018 champions Langley make the trip to Hills Road 6th form College.

 

Stamford are in great form at the moment, and though they lost on Saturday it was actually a brilliant performing. They ran one of the best teams in the country, Rugby, to within two points. On Saturday they travel to Oundle, and both sides are looking to get back to winning ways. The side that beat them, Oakham, meanwhile travel to Bedford, who are still in search of a first victory of the season.

 

Isleworth & Syon are a side not often talked about, but they are having a cracking season this year and will be hoping to continue that on Saturday when they host Cardinal Vaughan. Also worth keeping an eye on is Caterham’s trip to St George’s College Weybridge for what ought to be a strong game of schools rugby.

 

In Scotland the pace-setters have been George Watson’s College, however they lost out last week to Stewart’s Melville, they will be eager to get back to winning ways at home to Strathallan on Saturday. Meanwhile in England’s rugby heartland, the South West, the excellent Bristol Grammar School are in action at one of the most successful sides in all of schools rugby, Colston’s.

 

Friday

 

Friday has some huge games, not least at Harrow, where Kirkham Grammar School are the visitors. Kirkham have been fantastic this season, their only defeat was in the final of the St Joseph’s Festival to the outstanding Wellignton College. Harrow are a strong opponent, results this year have been mixed but the true tale is in the strength of their fixture list, their last three opponents have been Epsom College, Tonbridge, and Wellington College. It should be a cracker.

 

Friday night also features the culmination of Merchant Taylors’ annual rugby week, one of the great concepts in all of schools rugby. They round the week off on Friday with the visit of Reading Blue Coat, and it should be a cracking game, Reading Blue Coat are playing some lovely stuff, while this is a week of huge motivation for the hosts.

 

Elsewhere St Benedict’s travel to Shiplake College for a game that should be a really even and exciting contest, while Cheadle Hulme, who are playing wonderfully well, head to Wilmslow High School. There is a big derby game in Coventry as Bablake and King Henry VIII meet.

 

Please do get in touch with your stories, photos, videos, reports, and opinions from the week’s rugby! It all makes a massive difference and allows us to feature your school and your team! You can get in touch via any of the below methods:

 

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Email: writers@fifteenrugby.com

 

Schools Rugby Weekend Fixtures – Saturday 16th November (predictions in bold):

 

Focus On

 

Abingdon v Radley College

Barnard Castle v St Peter’s, York

Bradford GS v QEGS Wakefield

Clifton College v Wellington College

Cranleigh v Epsom College

Dulwich College v Whitgift

Millfield v Cheltenham College

RGS High Wycombe v Bromsgrove

Seaford College v Canford (Schools Cup)

Warwick v Sedbergh

 

Saturday

 

Ampleforth College v Newcastle School for Boys

Ashford v St Dunstan’s

Ashville College v Birkdale

Bedford v Oakham

Bell Baxter HS v Fettes College

Bishop’s Stortford College v St Edmund’s College

Bishop’s Stortford HS v Brentwood

Bishop Vesey’s GS v Bloxham

Brighton College v Eastbourne College

Chislehurst & Sidcup GS v Ravens Wood

Christ College v King’s Gloucester

Christ’s Hospital v Worth

City of London Freemen’s v Reigate GS

Clifton HS v Warminster

Colfe’s v Latymer Upper

Colston’s v Bristol GS

Coopers’ Coborn v Bancroft’s

Crypt v QEH

Dartford GS v Cranbrook

Dauntsey’s v Kingswood

Dean Close v King’s Worcester

Dollar Academy v Stewart’s Melville

Exeter v King’s College, Taunton

George Heriot’s v Edinburgh Academy

George Watson’s College v Strathallan

Haileybury v St John’s, Leatherhead

Hills Road 6th form College v Langley (Schools Vase)

Hutchesons’ GS v Kelvinside Academy

Felsted v Royal Hospital School

Isleworth & Syon v Cardinal Vaughan

John Fisher v Campion

KCS Wimbledon v Hurstpierpoint College

KES Bath v Taunton

KES Stratford v Magdalen College

KES Southampton v Churcher’s College

King’s Canterbury v Tonbridge

King’s Ely v Culford

King’s Macclesfield v Malvern College

King’s Rochester v Gravesend GS

Lancaster RGS v Giggleswick

Langley Park v Sir Joseph Williamson’s

Lord Wandsworth College v Pangbourne College

Loretto v Dundee HS

Loughborough GS v KES Birmingham

Maidstone GS v Skinners’

Marr College v Glasgow Academy

Mill Hill v Emanuel

Monkton Combe v Wellington

Monmouth v RGS Worcester

Morrison’s Acaemy v Knox Academy

New Hall v Eltham College

Newcastle-Under-Lyme v Liverpool College

Norwich v Ipswich

Nottingham HS v Solihull

Pate’s GS v Sir Thomas Rich’s

Portsmouth GS v Bryanston

Prior Park College v Wycliffe College

Oundle v Stamford

RGS Guildford v Reed’s

Richard Hale v QES Barnet

Robert Gordon’s College v Glenalmond College

Rydal Penrhos v Birkenhead

Sandbach v St Ambrose College

Shebbear College v Mount Kelly

Simon Langton GS v The Judd

St Albans v St George’s, Harpenden

St George’s College, Weybridge v Caterham

St Joseph’s College v RGS Colchester

St Paul’s v Eton College

Stockport GS v Bolton

Sutton Valence v Sevenoaks

Tiffin v Windsor Boys

UCS v Watford GS

Wallington CGS v Halliford

West Buckland v Wells Cathedral

Wimbledon College v London Oratory

Wisbech GS v Woodbridge

Woodhouse College v Durham

Worksop College v Queen Ethelburga’s

Wrekin College v Oswestry

 

Friday

 

Bablake v King Henry VIII, Coventry

Harrow v Kirkham GS

Merchant Taylors’ v Reading Blue Coat

Shiplake College v St Benedict’s

Wilmslow HS v Cheadle Hulme