In the build up to the weekend there was a real sense that this was going to be a key weekend in the schools rugby calendar and, after a brilliant set of fixtures across the board, it feels as though that was exactly the case.
With some of the best rated teams in the country going head to head, ahead of a week that includes both Champions Trophy semi finals and the Schools Cup regional finals, it feels as though the big stories that will dominate the last few weeks of this term are emerging.
Given the weather forecast it would have been easy to assume that a huge number of games would be cancelled or postponed, however only a handful were lost to it thanks to the superb work of grounds staff all over the country.
Two of this week’s Champions Trophy semi finalists, who will in fact be facing each other, were in action this weekend, both away from home but with contrasting outcomes.
Wellington College travelled to Clifton College for one of the most hotly anticipated games not only of the weekend but of the season. Both are considered to be among the very best in the country and so it proved as they both utterly emptied themselves in a game of huge intensity. There were even tears from some in the away supporting ranks as Wellington College claimed a tremendous 19-14 victory, a sign of just how much the game had taken out of the players and of the respect that all in attendance had for Clifton.
On Wednesday Wellington travel to Epsom College for the Champions Trophy semi final. On Saturday Epsom were in action at Cranleigh, two brilliant unbeaten sides going head to head. All season both have proven their quality, so when Cranleigh emerged with a 26-5 victory it was a true sign of just what a top side they are. 19-0 up at half time, they started fast, and they must now be looking ahead and eyeing up what would be a glorious unbeaten season.
Elsewhere some of those involved in this week’s Schools Cup regional finals were among those in our Focus On fixtures. Bromsgrove face Warwick on Wednesday, and sadly Warwick cancelled their game against Sedbergh in order to focus on that. Bromsgrove did play though, travelling to RGS High Wycombe. It was a close game at half time, 12-8 in Bromsgrove’s favour, however in the second half Bromsgrove’s backs opened up, including a hat trick for Lewis Harper and a brace for Cam Ritchie as they scored 31 unanswered points for a 43-8 victory.
There was one actual Schools Cup game taking place, too. Canford travelling to Seaford College in the South West B regional semi final. Both have been outstanding this season but on Saturday Canford were close to unplayable as they raced to a 41-5 victory and a place in the regional final.
In that regional final Canford will be travelling to Abingdon, and Abingdon had a fantastic day on Saturday in the final Oxford derby of the season. They welcomed local rivals Radley College from their base just three miles away. On average Radley have held the advantage in this derby in recent years, however on Saturday Abingdon were in stunning form as they secured a brilliant 30-3 victory.
The Schools Cup champions were also in fine form on Saturday, Whitgift travelled to 2012, 2013, and 2014 champions Dulwich College and once again put in an excellent shift to secure a 31-10 victory that ought to keep confidence high ahead of their regional final against Simon Langton, which takes place on the 27th.
Bradford Grammar School’s excellent season continues, they set themselves up for their Schools Plate regional final in the best possible way as they beat QEGS Wakefield, who have a Schools Cup regional final this week, 19-14. It was another superb performance from Bradford Grammar against a legend of the school game.
Two sides that are desperately unlucky not to be facing each other in a Schools Cup regional final are Barnard Castle and St Peter’s York. Both lost narrowly in the regional semis, and all year Barnard Castle have looked like one of the strongest teams around. On Saturday they proved just that as they secured a stunning 47-19 victory to extend that stunning run of form this year.
Finally in the South West Millfield were hosting Cheltenham College. Results so far this season suggested a close game, but on Saturday Millfield hit peak from as their pacey side were in full flight for an outstanding 40-6 victory.
Elsewhere the superb rugby just kept on coming and there were some seriously tight games to go along with it, not least in Hertfordshire were Haileybury continued their brilliant unbeaten season with a 19-14 victory over St John’s Leatherhead. Cameron Giwa-McNeil got the score rolling in the first half, with Ed Jinks adding the extras, but St John’s came back to level things at seven each at the break. Tries from Ehimen Osebor and Harry West pushed Haileybury out to 19-7 ahead, and though St John’s did hit back late on to leave it 19-14 the home side, but Haileybury’s early run in the second half was enough to seal the game. With Sedbergh coming up on Tuesday, it was a timely victory for this excellent Haileybury group.
There was an unbelievably tight game in South West London as St Paul’s secured a 6-0 victory in cold conditions against Eton College, one for the purists perhaps but another strong outcome for St Paul’s.
Oakham were on song at Bedford, winning 52-0, while local rivals Stamford pulled out another strong performance, they were 40-5 victors at Oundle.
Campion’s visit to John Fisher proved to be as tight as had been predicted as they sealed a 13-10 victory in what was a seriously tough game of rugby. Bloxham, meanwhile, continued their good form with a 23-15 victory at Bishop Vesey’s.
Brighton College bounced back superbly from last week’s defeat at Epsom College as they faced an in form Eastbourne College side and pulled out all of the stops for a 49-19 victory. City of London Freemen’s meanwhile showed the form that has been in effect throughout the season for a 39-0 victory at home to Reigate Grammar.
St Albans were flying, they beat St George’s Harpenden 47-7, while Newcastle-Under-Lyme looked outstanding in their 55-0 victory over Liverpool College. Isleworth & Syon were once again in excellent form, quietly impressive all year they were rampant on Saturday, winning 61-5 over Cardinal Vaughan.
RGS Guildford proved us wrong with an excellent 26-13 victory over Reed’s, while in a new fixture Norwich won the Norfolk/Suffolk derby against Ipswich, 35-19. Sticking in Norfolk, Wisbech Grammar were again in fine form, securing a brilliant 43-5 victory over Woodbridge.
Woodhouse Grove’s Schools Cup regional final preparations could scarcely have gone better, they were in fantastic nick at home to Durham, winning 21-0.
Tonbridge have been in good form this year but this second half of term has been absolutely exceptional so far, and on Saturday that continued against old rivals King’s Canterbury, winning 58-5 away from home. Meanwhile Felsted earned a strong 31-0 victory over Royal Hospital School.
In the South West, meanwhile, Dean Close continue to be outstanding as they won 28-5 at home to King’s Worcester, while at Colston’s Bristol Grammar School’s good work continued as they picked up a 29-14 victory.
There was also Schools Vase action on Saturday as 2018 champions Langley won a real thriller at Hills Road 6th form College, 24-21 to take their place in the regional final.
Friday saw Kirkham Grammar School’s unbeaten season continue in style as they travelled down to a strong Harrow side and came away with yet another outstanding victory, 48-17.
Merchant Taylors’ rugby week came to an end in real style as they beat an excellent Reading Blue Coat side 21-10, ending a fantastic week of rugby across all ages.
St Benedict’s meanwhile won under the lights against Shiplake College, putting in a strong performance for a 22-8 victory. Elsewhere King Henry VIII, Coventry won their derby against Bablake in a really tight game, 13-10, and in another tight game Wilmslow High School just edged Cheadle Hulme, 5-3.
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Schools Rugby Weekend Results – Saturday 16th November:
Abingdon 30-3 Radley College
Barnard Castle 47-19 St Peter’s, York
Bradford GS 19-15 QEGS Wakefield
Clifton College 14-19 Wellington College
Cranleigh 26-5 Epsom College
Dulwich College 10-31 Whitgift
Millfield 40-6 Cheltenham College
RGS High Wycombe 8-43 Bromsgrove
Seaford College 5-41 Canford (Schools Cup)
Warwick v Sedbergh – Cancelled
Ampleforth College 17-17 Newcastle School for Boys
Ashford 12-36 St Dunstan’s
Bedford 0-52 Oakham
Bell Baxter HS 6-28 Fettes College
Bishop Vesey’s GS 15-23 Bloxham
Brighton College 49-19 Eastbourne College
Chislehurst & Sidcup GS 20-42 Ravens Wood
Christ College 24-13 King’s Gloucester
Christ’s Hospital 14-11 Worth
City of London Freemen’s 39-0 Reigate GS
Colfe’s 22-10 Latymer Upper
Colston’s 14-29 Bristol GS
Coopers’ Coborn 19-17 Bancroft’s
Crypt 10-31 QEH
Dean Close 28-5 King’s Worcester
Dollar Academy 5-21 Stewart’s Melville
Exeter 19-7 King’s College, Taunton
Felsted 31-0 Royal Hospital School
Framlingham College 13-18 Bishop’s Stortford College
George Heriot’s 12-15 Edinburgh Academy
Haileybury 19-14 St John’s, Leatherhead
Hills Road 6th form College 21-24 Langley (Schools Vase)
Hutchesons’ GS 19-36 Kelvinside Academy
Isleworth & Syon 61-5 Cardinal Vaughan
John Fisher 10-13 Campion
KCS Wimbledon 13-15 Hurstpierpoint College
KES Bath 17-25 Taunton
KES Stratford 17-3 Magdalen College
KES Southampton 0-55 Churcher’s College
King’s Bruton 19-14 Sherborne 2nd XV
King’s Canterbury 5-58 Tonbridge
King’s Ely 21-11 Culford
King’s Macclesfield 18-0 Malvern College
King’s Rochester 38-0 Gravesend GS
Langley Park 17-0 Sir Joseph Williamson’s
Lord Wandsworth College 10-15 Pangbourne College
Loretto 17-27 Dundee HS
Loughborough GS 19-0 KES Birmingham
Maidstone GS 0-29 Skinners’
Mill Hill 26-5 Emanuel
Monkton Combe 12-24 Wellington
Monmouth v RGS Worcester
Morrison’s Academy 21-23 Knox Academy
New Hall 26-12 Eltham College
Newcastle-Under-Lyme 55-0 Liverpool College
Norwich 35-19 Ipswich
Nottingham HS v Solihull
Oundle 5-40 Stamford
Pate’s GS 22-17 Sir Thomas Rich’s
Portsmouth GS 10-36 Bryanston
Prior Park College 19-14 Wycliffe College
RGS Guildford 26-13 Reed’s
Robert Gordon’s College 12-50 Glenalmond College
Shebbear College 14-29 Mount Kelly
Simon Langton GS 12-42 The Judd
St Albans 47-7 St George’s, Harpenden
St Joseph’s College 31-26 RGS Colchester
St Paul’s 6-0 Eton College
Stockport GS 7-22 Bolton
Sutton Valence 34-14 Sevenoaks
UCS 38-0 Watford GS
Wallington CGS 50-21 Halliford
West Buckland 27-7 Wells Cathedral
Wimbledon College 17-7 London Oratory
Wisbech GS 43-5 Woodbridge
Woodhouse College 21-0 Durham
Wrekin College 10-0 Oswestry
Bablake 10-13 King Henry VIII, Coventry
Harrow 17-48 Kirkham GS
Merchant Taylors’ 21-10 Reading Blue Coat
Shiplake College 8-22 St Benedict’s
Wilmslow HS 5-3 Cheadle Hulme
Still to Come:
Dartford GS v Cranbrook
Dauntsey’s v Kingswood
George Watson’s College v Strathallan
Lancaster RGS v Giggleswick
Richard Hale v QES Barnet
Rydal Penrhos v Birkenhead
Sandbach v St Ambrose College
St George’s College, Weybridge v Caterham
Worksop College v Queen Ethelburga’s