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School Rugby

Schools Rugby Weekend Preview: Saturday 9th November

8th November 2019
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After a reduced fixture list last week with several sides still on half term, schools rugby is back with a bang this weekend with a full fixture list and some absolute beasts among them.

 

Already we have had an exciting week with the Champions Trophy quarter finals and the Schools Cup and Plate regional semi finals, getting everyone back into the swing of schools rugby in a big way, but this weekend sees the return to the meat and drink of the schools game – the Saturday block fixtures.

 

As usual we have picked out ten fixtures to preview in detail, our ‘Focus On’ fixtures, and there is also an extra preview for a special charity game on Saturday evening, as well as a look at plenty of the other goings on across the weekend as well as all of our predictions.

 

Focus On

 

Barnard Castle v QEGS Wakefield

 

Both of these were in action in the Schools Cup in midweek, both put in seriously brave performances, but only one of them made it through to the regional final, QEGS Wakefield after they won 20-17 at Lancaster RGS. Barnard Castle meanwhile went down 19-17 to RGS Newcastle, their first defeat of the season but it was oh so close, they actually outscored their hosts two tries to one. The key will be, having tasted defeat how will Barnard Castle react. Over the season they have had the better form that QEGS, but QEGS must now be full of confidence after such a tight and important midweek victory, for Barnard Castle losing the unbeaten record will sting. Suspicion is, such has been their form, that they will come out all guns blazing, but QEGS will be up for the test, without doubt.

 

Prediction: Barnard Castle

Who will win Barnard Castle v QEGS Wakefield?

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Blundell’s v Millfield

 

Both were in action in midweek, Blundell’s going down 20-0 to Epsom College in the Champions Trophy quarter finals while Millfield enjoyed a brilliant 22-0 away victory over Llandovery College. The likelihood is that both will field plenty of changes to those midweek sides, such are the rigours of schools rugby nowadays. For Blundell’s the challenge is to quickly pick themselves up after that quarter final defeat, Millfield have a backline that can cut a side to ribbons if given the chance and they will pounce on an opportunity given. Blundell’s advantage is that in Epsom they have already faced an opponent on this level since half term and so will be ready for the sort of game they can expect, while Millfield will arrive slightly colder. Millfield though will be full of confidence and are likely to be even stronger than they were in midweek. It should be a fantastic game of schoolboy rugby.

 

Prediction: Millfield

Who will win Blundell's v Millfield?

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Epsom College v Brighton College

 

It is a quick and high level turnaround for Epsom College after that 20-0 Champions Trophy final victory away at Blundell’s on Wednesday. They are unbeaten this season and looking like one of the very best in the country, however Saturday is a significant challenge for them. Not only are Brighton College yet another fantastic side in opposition but they are well rested and will be absolutely raring to go, while Epsom have a hard game and a long round trip to Devon in the legs. If they slip for just a moment, this Brighton College side will pounce. The South Coast men have not always hit top gear this year but they have shown that when they click they are close to unstoppable. Epsom though have, so far, proved to be unstoppable every single game but, make no mistake, this is a huge challenge.

 

Prediction: Epsom College

Who will win Epsom College v Brighton College?

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Hampton v Berkhamsted

 

Prior to half term these two met in the Champion Trophy and Hampton won by a seriously impressive 38-0 margin. So logic says that they ought to be fairly comfortable on Saturday, however that ignores a few key points – Hampton were in action in a tough Champions Trophy quarter final on Wednesday, they beat Uppingham 27-7 but it will have taken something out of them, Berkhamsted meanwhile did not have a game and will be determined to prove to Hampton and to themselves that they are much better than that game before half term suggested. They are right, too, they are better than that and if Hampton are not quite on song or Berkhamsted get everything bang on then they can bounce. However Hampton are a top quality side, with a backline that is producing fireworks, and they should be absolutely bursting with confidence at the moment.

 

Prediction: Hampton

Who will win Hampton v Berkhamsted?

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Rugby v Stamford

 

A well rested Rugby School side made it through to the Champions Trophy semi finals on Wednesday with a very tight 13-8 victory over Stamford’s local rivals Oakham. Stamford have also played Oakham this year and were inches from victory in a really tight 21-19 defeat. Those two results therefore suggest a close game on Saturday. However it is worth noting that Rugby rested a number in midweek and earlier in the season they beat Oakham 40-17, and their Saturday form has been generally stunning. Nevertheless, in their last game before half term they lost for the first time this season, to Bromsgrove, and now in their next game they had to work seriously hard to victory against Oakham. Stamford might just sense a vulnerability and a chance to earn a result that would earn huge plaudits. Rugby have proven that they are an incredible outfit though, and they will be determined to be right back at their dominant best on Saturday, few have managed to stop them so far.

 

Prediction: Rugby

Who will win Rugby v Stamford?

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Sherborne v Clifton College

 

Both Sherborne and Clifton College have been absolutely flying this season, each losing just a solitary game each. Sherborne have seen off this likes of Marlborough College, Radley College, and Abingdon, with only an excellent performance from Millfield ended their unbeaten run prior to half term. Clifton on the other hand put 29 unanswered points past Millfield and have run up some serious scores against other sides. However in the second round of the Champions Trophy they came unstuck against Oakham, who took advantage of Clifton’s number of ineligible players to take victory. Clifton will head into Saturday as favourites, such has been their stunning form this year, but Sherborne have to be full of confidence after their own great first half of term and are going to be a really tough side to beat.

 

Prediction: Clifton College

Who will win Sherborne v Clifton College?

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St Peter’s, York v RGS Newcastle

 

These two were both in action in the Schools Cup on Wednesday and but for a point here or there they could have been scheduled to meet in the North B regional final. On Wednesday RGS Newcastle became the first side to beat Barnard Castle this season, 19-17, reaching the regional final. St Peter’s York meanwhile missed out by the absolute tightest of margins to Woodhouse Grove, doing down 27-26 at home to go out at the regional semi final stage. They will therefore be really keen to bounce back fast against RGS on Saturday, getting back not only to winning ways but also to prove that they could have been the side to represent North B at the national stage. However RGS have been quite brilliant all year, only Sedbergh have beaten them and they are not going to be alone this year in having had the men in brown get the better of them. They were outstanding also in the St Joseph’s Festival again and after the confidence of beating Barnard Castle on Wednesday, they will fancy a real crack at this game on Saturday.

 

Prediction: RGS Newcastle

Who will win St Peter's, York v RGS Newcastle?

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Tonbridge v St Paul’s

 

These are two of the few schools that were also in action last weekend, and both got off to winning starts in this second half of term. They were both glorious victories too, though in very different circumstances. Tonbridge travelled to Harrow, a game they probably were not favourites for but they worked incredibly hard for an impressive 13-8 victory. St Paul’s meanwhile were the favourites at home to The Perse and proved it with a dominant 47-3 victory. Saturday’s game really feels like one of those that is right in the balance, there are strong arguments to be made for it going either way. Perhaps Tonbridge’s famously proud home support might make the difference and, when playing Harrow, St Paul’s did come unstuck. Either way, it should be a gripping afternoon of rugby.

 

Prediction: Tonbridge

Who will win Tonbridge v St Paul's?

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Wellington College v Harrow

 

Wellington College are having an absolutely outstanding season, they are yet to be defeated, in their last outing before half term they sealed a maiden St Joseph’s Festival title (in the process becoming the first side ever to have won the Schools Cup, Champions Trophy, Rosslyn Park 7s, Daily Mail Trophy, and St Joseph’s Festival), and on Wednesday their Champions Trophy defence continued with a 12-6 defeat of Dulwich College. Harrow have had their moments too though, beating the likes of Warwick, Berkhamsted, and St Paul’s and running sides like Dulwich close. Perhaps the biggest key to this game though is Wellington College’s injury list and the number of changes they are likely to make as a result of having had a big game on Wednesday too. It could open the door for Harrow, and they are a side with more than enough quality to pounce.

 

Prediction: Wellington College

Who will win Wellington College v Harrow?

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Whitgift v RGS High Wycombe

 

Both of these teams were in contrasting midweek Schools Cup action. Whitgift’s title defence continued fairly smoothly with a 30-7 victory over Seevic College while RGS High Wycombe lost out in heartbreaking fashion by a solitary point at Abingdon, 24-23. What the closeness of that game did serve to highlight though was RGS’ ability this year to challenge each and every top side that they have faced, never shown more so than in victories over Milfield and Brighton College. So while Whitgift’s excellent season to date suggests that they are favourites, they will have to have their wits about them against an RGS High Wycombe side that has proven time and time again that they love a big game. It should be a superb occasion.

 

Prediction: Whitgift

Who will win Whitgift v RGS High Wycombe?

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Team huddle 

The Clash – in Aid of Leukaemia UK: Loughborough Grammar School v Nottingham High School

 

At 6pm on Saturday Loughborough Grammar and Nottingham High School will meet at Loughborough University, raising money for Leukaemia UK in support of on of the Loughborough Schools foundation’s most long-standing and loved teacher’s, and his family, Mr Miles, whose 6-year-old daughter, Sophie, is undergoing treatment for Leukemia.

 

The Loughborough Grammar v Nottingham High fixture is always a fierce contest, a real local rivalry between two sides with a number of players that share a field in club colours. Loughborough head in to the game in greater form, with some impressive results of late including a recent victory over Bedford Modern to send them in full of confidence. For Nottingham High the season has been trickier, but on a night like this results on the field are of little importance, it is all about the occasion and the cause. You can donate via this link www.justgiving.com/theclash and on the night there will be people collecting, as well as an auction for a signed Leicester Tigers shirt donated by Old Loughburian and Gallagher Premiership referee, Christophe Ridley.

 

Saturday

 

It is not just about those highlighted games though, each and every game this weekend has the potential to be the game of the weekend and so many kick off with a huge amount of intrigue heading into them. Not least Haileybury’s trip to Reed’s. Haileybury were brilliant last half of term, unbeaten and full of confidence, but Reed’s enjoyed a dominant victory in midweek and will be a test of the Hertfordshire side, which should make for a fantastic game.

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Some of the top sides in the country face big away games, not least Canford who continued their unbeaten season to date with a strong win over Marlborough College last week, they travel to Bryanston on Saturday where they will need to be at their best. Marlborough College themselves have a big away trip, they travel for a huge clash at Radley College, a game that really feels as though it could go either way.

 

Among the massive sides at home this weekend are the unbeaten and utterly dominant Sedbergh, who are quickly closing in on three years unbeaten. They take on Lancaster RGS on Saturday, who travel looking to bounce back after a narrow midweek Schools Cup defeat to QEGS Wakefield.

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Kirkham Grammar are another of those massive sides at home this weekend, Queen Ethelburga’s are the side facing the tricky task of an away trip to the St Joseph’s Festival finalists, one of the top teams in the country.

 

Cranleigh are also most certainly in that bracket, and they will be hoping to extend their unbeaten season when they host RGS Guildford on Saturday. Warwick are also at home, the 2017 and 2018 Schools Cup champions and 2019 finalists are hosting a Bedford side that are looking to kickstart their season after a challenging first half of term. St John’s Leatherhead meanwhile are at home to Eastbourne College for what ought to be a good contest, the two sides have similar records this year. Both are having really consistent seasons, with only two defeats each and each of those coming against some of the very best sides in the country.

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One game worth taking real note of is St Albans v QES Barnet, it is the centenary celebration of the fixture, the oldest on the St Albans fixture list and should make for a fantastic occasion.

 

Elsewhere Dulwich College look to bounce back from their Champions Trophy quarter final defeat to Wellington College when they host a John Fisher side who should be full of confidence after a tight Schools Cup win over Wimbledon College. Meanwhile two sides that had some standout performances prior to half term, Aylesbury Grammar and Magdalen College meet in what ought to be a top game, while Schools Plate holders Bloxham are hosting Wellingborough. Meanwhile Campion, who were fantastic prior to half term, host a Langley Park side in full confidence after Wednesday’s Schools Plate victory. Saturday also sees a Schools Plate game take place as Merchant Taylors’ host St Mary’s College in the North A regional semi final. The winner will face Bradford Grammar in the regional final, they will be hoping their fantastic season continues on Saturday when they travel to Giggleswick.

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The northern region sees a number of massive games on Saturday, among them Woodhouse Grove’s trip to Grammar School at Leeds, with Woodhouse Grove securing their place in the regional finals of the Schools Cup in midweek, this should be a massive game. Elsewhere in form Cheadle Hulme host King’s Macclesfield, while the impressive Newcastle School for Boys head to Dame Allan’s, and there is a huge clash between two schools with massive histories, Stonyhurst College and Ampleforth College. Further north, up in Scotland, the in form George Watson’s College are in action at Stewart’s Melville.

 

There is a big game in the South West as two sides that have contributed greatly to the Gloucester Academy in recent years, Cheltenham College and Hartpury College go head to head.

 

Elsewhere Seaford College, who have been in fantastic form all year, are hosting Portsmouth Grammar, while St Edward’s Oxford and Stowe go head to head in a key game for both. Oakham meanwhile will be looking to head back to form quickly against old rivals Oundle on Saturday.

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Oakham’s greatest rivals, Uppingham are meanwhile looking for a quick response of their own after their Champions Trophy quarter final defeat in midweek, they welcome Solihull. Arguably the crowning glory of Uppingham’s season was a dramatic victory against Hurstpierpoint College, who this weekend travel for a key game at Trinity.

 

A team always worth keeping a big eye on are Denstone College, they look to get this second half of term off to a big start on Saturday when they welcome Trent College.

 

Friday

 

Friday is a pretty busy day, headlined perhaps by a key Schools Vase game between a Newcastle-Under-Lyme side that has picked up some top results and King’s Grantham. Elsewhere St Peter’s Gloucester travel to The Crypt, while St George’s Harpenden host St Columba’s College.

 

In Scotland there is a big Glasgow derby, with Glasgow Academy travelling the short distance to Glasgow High School. Meanwhile back in England Wallington County Grammar are at St Dunstan’s College.

 

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 9th November (predictions in bold):

 

Focus On

 

Barnard Castle v QEGS Wakefield

Blundell’s v Millfield

Epsom College v Brighton College

Hampton v Berkhamsted

Rugby v Stamford

Sherborne v Clifton College

St Peter’s, York v RGS Newcastle

Tonbridge v St Paul’s

Wellington College v Harrow

Whitgift v RGS High Wycombe

 

Saturday

 

Abingdon v Eton College

AKS Lytham v Birkenhead

Aylesbury GS v Magdalen College

Bell Baxter HS v Robert Gordon’s College

Bishop Vesey’s GS v Adams GS

Bloxham v Wellingborough

Bolton v Wilmslow HS

Bryanston v Canford

Calday GS v Ellesmere College

Campion v Langley Park

Caterham v Worth

Cheadle Hulme v King’s Macclesfield

Cheltenham College v Hartpury College (non-AASE XV)

Claremont v Isleworth & Syon

Cobham International v Halliford

Colston’s v Kingswood

Cranleigh v RGS Guildford

Culford v Woodbridge

Dame Allan’s v Newcastle School for Boys

Dartford GS v Wimbledon College

Denstone College v Trent College

Duke of York’s RMS v St Lawrence College

Dulwich College v John Fisher

Durham v Yarm v Austin Friars (Triangular)

Edinburgh Academy v Merchiston Castle

Eltham College v Ravens Wood

Emanuel v City of London Freemen’s

Felsted v Framlingham College

Fettes College v Dundee HS

George Heriot’s v Strathallan

Giggleswick v Bradford GS

Glenalmond College v Loretto

Grammar School at Leeds v Woodhouse Grove

Grange v Stockport GS

Gunnersbury v Latymer Upper

Haberdashers’ v Watford GS

Ipswich v Bishop’s Stortford HS

Kelvinside Academy v Marr College

KES Birmingham v Princethorpe College

KES, Stratford v Pate’s GS

King’s Bruton v Monkton Combe

King’s College, Taunton v Monmouth

King’s Gloucester v Hereford Cathedral

King Henry VIII, Coventry v Leicester GS

King’s Worcester v Bristol GS

Kirkham GS v Queen Ethelburga’s

The Leys v Royal Hospital School

London Oratory v Glyn

Lord Wandsworth College v KES, Southampton

Loughborough GS v Nottingham HS (6pm, Loughborough University)

Lymm HS v St Ambrose College

Maidstone GS v Chislehurst & Sidcup GS

Merchant Taylors’ v St Benedict’s

Merchant Taylors’ v St Mary’s College (Schools Plate)

Morrison’s Academy v St Columba’s

Norwich v Gresham’s

Oakham v Oundle

Old Swinford Hospital v RGS Worcester

The Oratory v Reading Blue Coat

Pangbourne College v Churcher’s College

The Perse v Bishop’s Stortford College

Pocklington v Hymers College

QEH v KES Bath

Radley College v Marlborough College

Reed’s v Haileybury

Reigate GS v Christ’s Hospital

RGS Colchester v Bancroft’s

Richard Hale v Hockerill

Rossall v Oswestry

Seaford College v Portsmouth GS

Sedbergh v Lancaster RGS

Sevenoaks v King’s Canterbury

Shiplake College v Mill Hill

Skinners’ v KCS Wimbledon

Stewart’s Melville v George Watson’s College

St Aloysius’ College v Hutchesons’ GS

St Albans v QES Barnet (100th Anniversary)

St Edward’s, Oxford v Stowe

St John’s, Leatherhead v Eastbourne College

St Joseph’s College v Langley

Stonyhurst College v Ampleforth College

Sutton Valence v Cranbrook

Tiffin v St George’s College, Weybridge

Trinity v Hurstpierpoint College

Truro v Exeter

Uppingham v Solihull

Warminster v Clayesmore

Warwick v Bedford

Wellington v Queen’s College, Taunton

Wells Cathedral v Wycliffe College

Windsor Boys’ v UCS

Worksop College v Wisbech GS

 

Friday

 

Glasgow HS v Glasgow Academy

Newcastle-Under-Lyme v King’s Grantham (Schools Vase)

St Dunstan’s College v Wallington County GS

St George’s, Harpenden v St Columba’s College

The Crypt v St Peter’s, Gloucester