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School Rugby

Schools Rugby Weekend Preview: Saturday 7th December

5th December 2019
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In what seems like a flash the final full weekend of the term of schools rugby is upon, the final fifteen-a-side action of the season for a great many schools.

 

For those in their Upper 6th year, this will be the last time that they pull on their school shirt. Whether at 1st XV or 6th XV level the last game is a special one. Those shirts carry a weight of history and memories across each and every school. This is the last chance for those in their final appearances to add to that, to make their own memories.

 

The biggest memories that can be made are to give everything and to enjoy it, shoulder to shoulder with your mates. That’s what lasts.

 

Of course there is plenty to play for besides pure memories though, for a start the Daily Mail Trophy will be decided on Saturday with five sides remaining with a mathematical chance of taking the title.

 

Focus On

 

Berkhamsted v Haileybury

 

This is a huge game for these two to finish up their season with. Both have played sublime rugby at this this year, Berkhamsted are unbeaten since half term and have beaten some strong sides including Dulwich College and an RGS High Wycombe side that has beaten both Millfield and Brighton College. Haileybury meanwhile have enjoyed a season for the ages, only once have they been beaten and even that was as a result of pushing their limits, offering Sedbergh a game when both had one cancelled. They played well there despite a tough scoreline, and everywhere else this year they have come out on the right side of the scoreboard. Saturday will be massive for both, a chance to sign off in style, it should be a sizzler.

 

Prediction: Haileybury

Who will win Berkhamsted v Haileybury?

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Bromsgrove v Warwick

 

The third meeting of these two great rivals this year. The are bookending their season with this fixture and there was a Cup game in the middle. Back at the start of the season Bromsgrove won at Warwick 27-12, however in the Schools Cup Warwick won at the death at Bromsgrove, 13-12, and are now just a game away from a forth successive final. Saturday will be massive, then. Bromsgrove will be desperate to turn around the result of that Cup game, a tournament they would have genuinely felt they could go far in. Warwick meanwhile must quickly overcome any tiredness from their quarter final defeat of QEGS Wakefield on Wednesday, but will be full of confidence too. This game is always a great occasion, and a brilliant way to wrap up a top term of rugby.

 

Prediction: Bromsgrove

Who will win Bromsgrove v Warwick?

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Cheltenham College v Clifton College

 

This is a massive game in its own right, two fantastic teams going head to head. For Cheltenham College it is their penultimate game of a fantastic term’s work, they face Radley College in their classic clash on Thursday next week, for Clifton College though this is the final game of the season, a season that has only seen them lose once in the Champions Trophy and once to Wellington College. There is also the possibility of silverware hanging over this game. Clifton College have an outside chance of winning the Daily Mail Trophy on Saturday. In order to do so they must win and hope that Epsom College, Cranleigh, and Wellington College all lose, but as we will see below, none are playing in games that would be described as dead certs. This will be worth keeping a real eye on.

 

Prediction: Clifton College

Who will win Cheltenham College v Clifton College?

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Cranleigh v Canford

 

These two go head to head on Saturday in a massive finale to a fantastic term’s work from each of them. Canford have proved one of the best around, their only ‘in term’ defeat was to Abingdon in the Schools Cup, they also lost at Blackrock College in Ireland during half term. Cranleigh, meanwhile, are unbeaten and currently sit atop the Daily Mail Trophy table. In order to stay there, their task is a simple one – better Wellington College’s result. With Wellington College facing a Tonbridge side that is bang in form, that is very much on the cards, and should Cranleigh do it they would be just the fourth side ever to win the Daily Mail Trophy. Canford will be no bystanders in this game though, they are a fantastic side with every chance of sealing a top 10 finish, which would be a seriously good achievement.

 

Prediction: Cranleigh

Who will win Cranleigh v Canford?

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Dulwich College v Hampton

 

This is always a massive game, both sides have met plenty of times down the years in knockout rugby and play an attractive brand. This year they each sign off for the term with this game and it should be a cracker. Last year the two met twice, Hampton winning in the Champions Trophy and Dulwich in this equivalent fixture. This year they met in the shortened form of the St Joseph’s Festival, Hampton enjoying a fantastic victory. Dulwich have found the going tough since half term but found their form last week against St Paul’s, Hampton on the other hand were on the losing side against Brighton College but it was great preparation for this game, with both playing some very exciting stuff. This game should be awesome and really could go either way.

 

Prediction: Hampton

Who will win Dulwich College v Hampton?

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Kirkham Grammar v Woodhouse Grove (Friday)

 

Kirkham Grammar School might just be the least talked about outstanding team in years. They are unbeaten this year, reached the final of the St Joseph’s Festival, and are unquestionably one of the very best teams in the country. On Friday they face a tough opponent though in their final game of the term, Woodhouse Grove. Woodhouse Grove have had some good result this year, including beating QEGS Wakefield and St Peter’s York, but to beat Kirkham Grammar they will need to be at their very best. This will not be their last night though, they face Truro School next week. For Kirkham Grammar this is the chance to sign off in style, complete a stunning unbeaten season, and confirm their place as one of the very best.

 

Prediction: Kirkham Grammar

Who will win Kirkham Grammar v Woodhouse Grove?

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Merchant Taylors’ v St Albans

 

This is a huge game for Merchant Taylors’ in particular, their first ever victory over Reed’s last weekend set up an opportunity for them to seal an unbeaten season on Saturday if they beat St Albans. It would be a stunning achievement from an excellent group of players, it will be hard though, St Albans are a good side and only three others have got the better of them in a busy season so far. They still have a game to go after this one but you can be sure that that will not dampen their efforts one bit. For Merchant Taylors’ though this will be everything, but that will bring with it a certain pressure – how they handle that will be key.

 

Prediction: Merchant Taylors’

Who will win Merchant Taylors' v St Albans?

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RGS Newcastle v Barnard Castle

 

This is a massive game for both sides and the last game of the term for each, both of whom have been fantastic this season. The two met in the Cup about a month ago, RGS Newcastle winning in the tightest of games, 19-17. Since then RGS’ form has been a little shaky, while Barnard Castle have won back to back games, leaving that Cup defeat as the only one of the season. It all adds up to an epic game of rugby on Saturday, one that feels as though it could go either way once again. Both have proven their quality again already this year, they are two brilliant sides. Victory on Saturday though would mark the perfect way to sign off, and you can be certain that both will be going all out. RGS might perhaps just have a bit of an extra edge after defeat in the Cup on Wednesday, perhaps that might just spark them on, but then Barnard Castle have the feeling of that last trip to RGS fueling them.

 

Prediction: RGS Newcastle

Who will win RGS Newcastle v Barnard Castle?

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St John’s, Leatherhead v Epsom College

 

A local derby between two fantastic sides and the final game of the season for both of them. For Epsom College there is an added element to this one though, the possibility of winning the Daily Mail Trophy. If they get a victory at St John’s and Cranleigh and Wellington College fail to pick up victory in their games, they will secure the title and become just the fourth side ever to win it. Only Cranleigh and Wellington College have beaten Epsom this year, the top two in the league that this the level that this magnificent side are operating at. St John’s have been playing at a seriously high level too though, losing only to Brighton College, Dulwich College, and Haileybury, and with this being their last game and being at home, they will be absolutely firing for it. One way or another, it is one to keep an eye on.

 

Prediction: Epsom College

Who will win St John's, Leatherhead v Epsom College?

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Tonbridge v Wellington College

 

Perhaps the biggest game of this final weekend, two sides in outstanding form and a game with a huge amount riding on it. On Wednesday Wellington College claimed the Champions Trophy, becoming the first side to do so back to back, in October they won the St Joseph’s Festival, on Saturday they can complete a remarkable treble should they better Cranleigh’s result against Canford. The pressure will be high, the challenge of backing up from Wednesday immense, and yet the prize is historic. That’s before we even get in to Tonbridge, who are unbeaten since half term and have only been beaten by Cranleigh and Hampton. They are in sensational form, winning their last 6 in a row. They will be desperate to sign off in style, and there would be no greater style than defeating this outstanding Wellington College group. Anyone with an interest in the school rugby world needs to keep an eye on this one.

 

Prediction: Wellington College

Who will win Tonbridge v Wellington College?

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Around the Grounds

 

This final weekend of the season is littered with fantastic looking fixtures, among them a fantastic Dean Close side that is hosting RGS High Wycombe, a side that have beaten some of the very best around this week. It should be a massive game.

 

Schools Cup champions Whitgift, who sealed their semi final spot on Wednesday in an absolute thriller at Abingdon, are hosting St Joseph’s College. If both are on song, that one could be a top game. Speaking of Abingdon, they will have a chance to bounce back from that Cup result as they host Bedford, it too will be a big game, Bedford have had their struggles but as the season closes they have been at their best.

 

Northampton School for Boys are another side that reached the Schools Cup semi finals on Wednesday when they beat RGS Newcastle. They are away from home again on Saturday and it is another tricky venue, Sir Thomas Rich’s. It promises to be a spectacular game of rugby.

 

The other Schools Cup victor in midweek was Sherborne, for whom that was their final action of the term. Their opponents, KCS Wimbledon, are in action though, and it is another tricky opponent that they face, Trinity. Fellow Cup quarter finalists QEGS Wakefield also have a tricky trip to back up with on Saturday, they face a Stamford side who have been playing some brilliant rugby this term, and whose social media output has been a highlight, too!

 

Wednesday also saw Bloxham making great knockout progress as they reached the semi final stage in the continued defence of their Schools Plate title. On Saturday they host Welbeck and will be eager for another massive performance. Grammar School at Leeds also sealed a semi final spot in the Plate in midweek and will be travelling to King’s Macclesfield on Saturday, where they will be in for a real contest.

 

As big clashes go though there is one that really intrigues us on Saturday, Eastbourne College v Hurstpierpoint College. At their best both play some top rugby and can be a real thrill to watch so, with Saturday being such a big day, it should be a top game.

 

Blundell’s have been quietly impressive all season and will be looking to finish off with a high with the visit of a determined Bryanston side on Saturday. Moving up a county, to Somerset, there is a massive derby game between Taunton School and King’s College Taunton, which should be a top game.Also worth keeping an eye on is the big derby on the Wirral as Calday Grange Grammar travel to their big local rivals Wirral Grammar.

 

If we are looking for sides that will be highly motivated on Saturday though, look no further than Cumbria, where Sedbergh host Llandovery College. On Wednesday the men in brown lost to Millfield, their first defeat in over three years, a defeat that has almost certainly cost them the Daily Mail Trophy. The thing is, that should not deflect from that fact that this is a sensational Sedbergh side – sensational. They will be desperate to prove that on Saturday when they host one of the great names in Welsh schools rugby.

 

Brighton College have won three on the bounce and will be eager to finish with a real flourish for the term on Saturday when they welcome a strong RGS Guildford to the South Coast. Moving West along that coast Portsmouth Grammar, who scored a remarkable eighty points last week, are welcoming a Wimbledon College side that also secured a highly impressive victory last week, setting up for a cracker this weekend.

 

Many of the quiet star sides of this season will be taking to the field on Saturday, among them King’s Ely, who would complete a stunning unbeaten season on Saturday if they defeat Woodbridge. Another side that has been fantastic is Bristol Grammar, who welcome a Malvern College side looking to bounce back from defeat and finish on a high.

 

Denstone College have also been thoroughly impressive and on Saturday they have the chance to finish on another high when they travel to Nottingham High School. Similarly St Peter’s York travel to Pocklington for what should be an excellent game. Meanwhile the impressive Seaford College, who lost a tight one last week, will be eager to bounce back on Saturday when they host Caterham.

 

Campion and Aylesbury Grammar School are two sides that have had some absolute brilliant results so far this season. On Saturday it should all come to a head when the pair meet at Campion for what is a hugely anticipated game.

 

As is Lymm High School v Manchester Grammar School in the North West, another game between two sides that have had some magnificent results and one that feels as though it could go either way.

 

Elsewhere there are some fantastic historic fixtures occurring, Eton College heading to Marlborough College, Oakham hosting Stowe, and Radley College welcoming Oundle, to name just a handful.

 

Keep an eye out on Reading Blue Coat, they have been quietly superb all year and round off at home to Magdalen College on Saturday. Meanwhile St Paul’s have also had some incredibly good showings this year. They sign off at home to London Oratory on Saturday.

 

Friday

 

In addition to Kirkham Grammar v Woodhouse Grove there is plenty of other rugby on Friday, too. One of the top games will be Bradford Grammar v Hymers College, two sides that have had some huge highs this year.

 

Further South, QES Barnet and Mill Hill will go head to head in what should be a fantastic game, while Cobham International and Claremont also meet. Meanwhile AKS Lytham make the trip to Wales to take on St David’s College.

 

Overall it should be a great weekend but, and in particular for those wearing the shirt for the last time, make sure you enjoy it and remember it.

 

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:

 

Twitter: @FifteenRugbyXV

Facebook: www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby

Instagram: @fifteenrugbyxv

Email: writers@fifteenrugby.com

 

Schools Rugby Weekend Fixtures – Saturday 7th December (predictions in bold):

 

Focus On

 

Berkhamsted v Haileybury

Bromsgrove v Warwick

Cheltenham College v Clifton College

Cranleigh v Canford

Dulwich College v Hampton

Kirkham GS v Woodhouse Grove (Friday)

Merchant Taylors’ v St Albans

RGS Newcastle v Barnard Castle

St John’s, Leatherhead v Epsom College

Tonbridge v Wellington College

 

Saturday

 

Abingdon v Bedford

Adams GS v Loughborough GS

Ashville College v Dame Allan’s

Bablake v Old Swinford Hospital

Bishop’s Stortford College v Norwich

Bloxham v Welbeck

Blundell’s v Bryanston

Brentwood v Dartford GS 2nd XV

Brighton College v RGS Guildford

Bristol Cathedral v Wells Cathedral

Bristol GS v Malvern College

Campion v Aylesbury GS

Cheadle Hulme v St Ambrose College

Chislehurst & Sidcup GS v Gravesend GS

Colston’s v Pate’s GS

Coopers’ Coborn v St Dunstan’s College

Dauntsey’s v Lord Wandsworth College

Dean Close v RGS High Wycombe

Dollar Academy v Fettes College

Earlston HS v George Heriot’s

Eastbourne College v Hurstpierpoint College

Emanuel v St George’s College, Weybridge

Framlingham College v The Perse

Giggleswick v Durham

Glasgow Academy v St Columba’s

Glasgow HS v Edinburgh Academy

Glyn v Langley Park

Gordon’s v Royal Alexandra & Albert

Hereford Cathedral v Wycliffe College

Hutchesons’ GS v Jordanhall

Isleworth & Syon v Ibstock Place

Kelvinside Acaedmy v Stewart’s Melville

KES Birmingham v King’s Gloucester

KES Southampton v The Oratory

KES Stratford v Princethorpe College

King’s Canterbury v Sutton Valence

King’s Ely v Woodbridge

King’s Macclesfield v Grammar School at Leeds

King’s Priory v Yarm

King’s Rochester v Colfe’s

King’s Worcester v Trent College

Kingswood v Bishop Wordsworth’s

Latymer Upper v St Columba’s College

The Leys v Felsted

Loretto v George Heriot’s

Lymm HS v Manchester GS

Maidstone GS v Judd

Marlborough College v Eton College

Mill Hill v UCS

Monkton Combe v Clayesmore

Morrison’s Acaedmy v Lomond

New Hall v RGS Colchester

Newcastle-Under-Lyme v King Henry VIII, Coventry

Nottingham HS v Denstone College

Oakham v Stowe

Oswestry v Rossall

Pocklington v St Peter’s, York

Portsmouth GS v Wimbledon College

Prior Park College v KES Bath

QEH v King’s Bruton

Queen’s College, Taunton v Exeter

Radley College v Oundle

Reading Blue Coat v Magdalen College

Reed’s v Reigate GS

RGS Worcester v Shrewsbury

Royal Hospital School v Ipswich

Ryde v Milton Abbey

Seaford College v Caterham

Sedbergh v Llandovery College

Shiplake College v Churcher’s College

Sir Joseph Williamson’s v Skinners’

Sir Thomas Rich’s v Northampton School for Boys

Solihull v Monmouth

Stamford v QEGS Wakefield

St Edward’s, Cheltenham v Clifton HS

St George’s, Harpenden v Bedford Modern

St Paul’s v London Oratory

Stockport GS v Harrodian

Strathallan v Robert Gordon’s College

Taunton v King’s College, Taunton

Tiffin v St Benedict’s

Trinity v KCS Wimbledon

Wellington/Mount Kelly/King’s Bruton – Triangular

Whitgift v St Joseph’s College

Windsor Boys v Halliford

Wirral GS v Calday Grange GS

Worksop College v Ampleforth College

Wymondham College v Langley

 

Friday

 

Bradford GS v Hymers College

Cobham International v Claremont

QES Barnet v Watford GS

St David’s College v AKS Lytham