Schools Rugby returned this weekend after the half term break and it was a brilliant return to action.
Close games were a feature of the weekend, particularly in our ten ‘Focus On’ games, and while the weather might be colder, the rugby remained highly entertaining, a promising sign of what is hopefully to come over the coming months.
Barnard Castle put in perhaps the performance of the weekend when they hosted old rivals Ampleforth College, securing a quite stunning 74-28 victory to set them up for this second half of the season perfectly.
There were some real classics in the South West, starting with Canford v Marlborough College. Marlborough have been having a great season, while Canford had been struggling a touch, however on Saturday the two were incredibly evenly matched. The result when Marlborough’s way, but it was oh so close at 13-12, which should really given both sides plenty of positivity going forward.
Over at Clifton there was another close one between two really top class sides, Clifton College and Blundell’s. Both had very similar form heading into the game, and that showed as they could barely be separated, with Clifton just edging out Blundell’s 13-10, giving them a perfect start to this second half of term.
One game that always produces plenty of fireworks is John Fisher v Eton College, and it was once again a cracker on Saturday with the two sides barely separable. It was Eton that edged it though, leaving the result just about in keeping with each side’s form thus far, Eton winning 22-20.
Sir Thomas Rich’s faced a trip to Wales on Saturday to take on Monmouth, and having performed well through the first half of the season they continued that momentum on with an excellent 20-7 victory to take back across the Severn.
One of the hardest games of the weekend to call was a big Yorkshire derby, Pocklington v Bradford Grammar. As expected, it was a fairly close game, but it was the home side that edged things with Pocklington holding on to a 20-13 victory.
Saturday also saw us treated to one of the oldest fixtures around as St Paul’s hosted Radley College. Both were in solid form before half term, with St Paul’s in particular securing some very noteworthy victories, and perhaps those helped give them the edge on Saturday as they took a hugely well contested game 24-15.
Two sides whose first halves of term were somewhat of a struggle, in terms of results, were Stowe and St Edward’s Oxford. Saturday was a chance of a first win of the season and unsurprisingly that produced a thrillingly tense and close game, with Stowe just edging it 13-10 to give them a massive boost for the rest of the season with their first win.
Probably the most special match of the weekend though was Tonbridge v Harrow, and it turned out to be the best too. The game was played in memory of former Tonbridge full back Suanu Saro-Wiva, who sadly passed away recently. A minutes silence was held ahead of the game and Tonbridge retired the number 15 jersey of their former full back, who was a member of their Champions Trophy winning side in 2016. The game itself in such circumstances feels hardly relevant, yet time and time again in these scenarios we see sides do wonderful things and dig deeper than ever. One needs only to think of Leicester City this weekend. Tonbridge did just that, Harrow were firm favourites for this but Tonbridge found a way anyway, winning a real thriller 25-24 – a perfect tribute.
The last of our Focus On games was a huge derby game in Rutland with Uppingham hosting traditional rivals Oundle. Uppingham won for the first time in nine years last year, but made it back to back victories over their old rivals on Saturday as they won a fantastic contest 17-10 to hold onto the bragging rights for another 12 months.
Around the Grounds
There was a sensational game at Aylesbury Grammar School as they snatched victory right at the death against Northampton School for Boys, with a final score of 19-15.
There was a real thriller in Kent as Duke of York’s Royal Military School won a dramatic game against Sevenoaks 27-26. There was a close win for Gunnersbury too, 17-14 at Claremont, with Langley Park and Glyn shared a 17-17 draw. Things were close in the north west too as Wirral Grammar won a tight contest with St Ambrose College 19-14.
There were some good games in Scotland, not least a thriller between George Watson’s and Dollar Academy, with Dollar Academy winning 29-26. Glasgow Academy won 19-5 at Hutcheson’s, while Strathallan won a cracking contest at Stewart’s Melville, 27-15. Meanwhile Merchiston Castle, on the day that Zach Mercer became the 67th full rugby international that they have produced, won the Sesquicentenary Trophy with a 31-2 victory over Edinburgh Academy.
Bath in England Brighton College were in good form at Skinners’ for a 33-12 win, while Royal Hospital School were sensational at The Perse, winning 50-19. There were also wins for Cranbrook, Dartford Grammar, and a really impressive and much needed 45-3 win for Bryanston at King’s Bruton.
Campion won a really keenly fought contest at Judd by a narrow 19-14 margin, while both Oakham and London Oratory picked up outstanding wins, both passing fifty, Oakham 56-5 at Loughborough Grammar, London oratory 58-7 at home to Robert Clack.
Norwich remain in truly sensational form, they beat The Leys 52-22 away from home, meanwhile Wisbech Grammar also showed brilliant form on the road for a 50-22 victory at Ratcliffe College. The Oratory secured a 25-12 victory over Churcher’s College, while UCS were in good form at Shiplake College for a 26-5 victory.
There was great news for St Benedict’s, who bizarrely were playing their first game of the season, as they beat Reigate Grammar 52-0. Christ’s Hospital were in fine form too, beating Worth 65-24 away from home, while Emanuel won 27-15 at Wimbledon College.
Images via: The Oratory, Aylesbury Grammar, and Merchiston Castle
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Schools Rugby Weekend Results – Saturday 3rd November:
Barnard Castle 74-28 Ampleforth College
Canford 12-13 Marlborough College
Clifton College 13-10 Blundell’s
John Fisher 20-22 Eton College
Monmouth 7-20 Sir Thomas Rich’s
Pocklington 20-13 Bradford GS
St Paul’s 24-15 Radley College
Stowe 13-10 St Edward’s, Oxford
Tonbridge 25-24 Harrow
Uppingham 17-10 Oundle
Aylesbury GS 19-15 Northampton School for Boys
Claremont 14-17 Gunnersbury
Cranbrook 25-12 Chislehurst & Sidcup GS
Dartford GS 26-13 Maidstone GS
Duke of York’s RMS 27-26 Sevenoaks
George Watson’s 26-29 Dollar Academy
Hutcheson’s GS 5-19 Glasgow Academy
Judd 14-19 Campion
King’s Bruton 3-45 Bryanston
Langley Park 17-17 Glyn
The Leys 22-52 Norwich
London Oratory 58-7 Robert Clack
Loughborough GS 5-56 Oakham
Merchiston Castle 31-12 Edinburgh Academy
The Oratory 25-12 Churcher’s College
The Perse 19-50 Royal Hospital School
Ratcliffe College 22-50 Wisbech GS
Shiplake College 5-26 UCS
Skinners’ 12-33 Brighton College
St Ambrose College 14-19 Wirral GS
St Benedict’s 52-0 Reigate GS
Stewart’s Melville 27-31 Strathallan
Wimbledon College 15-27 Emanuel
Worth 24-65 Christ’s Hospital
Still to Come
Gresham’s v Wymondham College
Liverpool College v St Edward’s College
Loretto v Glenalmond College
Mill Hill v Windsor Boys’
Pate’s GS v St Peter’s, Gloucester
QES Barnet v St George’s, Harpenden
St Aloysius’ College v Kelvinside Academy
St Olave’s GS v RGS Colchester
Woodlands v Beth’s GS