The first full weekend of school rugby following the half term break certainly lived up to the billing, some fantastic close games of rugby dominating the incoming headlines over the weekend.
Despite some atrocious weather in a lot of areas almost all games were able to go ahead this weekend, a real testament to the work of grounds staff right across the country, often the unsung heroes of the schools rugby world.
The weather did keep some scores incredibly low though, one U15 game ending in the rare situation of being scoreless, something that few of us have ever been a part of or seen live.
We begin our roundup though, as ever, with on ten ‘Focus On’ games, and there were some absolute crackers in amongst them.
Blundell’s quickly recovered from their disappointment at missing out on a place in the Champions Trophy semi finals in midweek by claiming the scalp of Millfield in an incredibly physical and close contest in Devon. Penalties from Wilf McCarthy either side of half time were all that was between the two as Blundell’s took a 6-0 victory, one for the purists but one that the home side will treasure.
It was close in South West London too, where Berkhamsted showed real grit to earn a 12-12 draw at Hampton, a side that had beaten them 38-0 just a few weeks ago in the Champions Trophy, though Hampton were this time recovering having played just a couple of days before. Either was, it was as close as close can be and a contest to keep everyone on the edge of their seats.
Along the road at Epsom College though, the unbeaten side that had knocked Blundell’s out of the Champions Trophy in midweek, things were very different as once again this magnificent group of players put on a real display of their strengths to beat an exciting Brighton College side by an outstanding 30-0 margin. It sets them up for an epic week beginning next Saturday, where their game against unbeaten Cranleigh followed by a Champions Trophy semi final against unbeaten Wellington College will likely define their season.
Wellington College themselves maintained their unbeaten record despite still being in the midst of a bit of an injury crisis, a huge number of players stepping up to the challenge of their final game on the school’s famous Bigside 1st XV pitch with a tremendous effort for a 28-14 victory over Harrow on Saturday.
Continuing that theme of Champions Trophy semi finalists, the side that will be hosting Hampton a week on Wednesday is Rugby School and they managed to back up Wednesday quarter final victory with a victory over Stamford on Saturday. They had to really dig deep for it, though. Behind, with barely any time on the clock, Rugby scored to take a 19-17 lead. Stamford came battering back though, going through over 30 phases to go from their own five metre line to Rugby’s, showing stunning spirit in doing so. It was matched by Rugby, though. The home side dug in on their own line and simply would to yield having worked so hard to get the lead at the end, holding on for a 19-17 victory.
Another game almost as close but in entirely different circumstances was St Peter’s York v RGS Newcastle. RGS Newcastle, without captain Phil Brantingham among others, could not get their usual dominance up front as St Peter’s physically dominated early on, their number 8 showing particular class as they built a platform for their exciting back three to take advantage of, going in three tries to one ahead at the break but only 19-16 in points thanks to some useful kicking from RGS. The lead changed hands early in the second half but then St Peter’s stretched out a little to a 34-24 lead. Any thoughts that this could spell the end of the game as a contest were put to bed sharply though as RGS scored from close range to narrow again to 34-29, however St Peter’s then pounced on loose ball for a 39-29 lead. With less than five minutes to go that may have seemed like it but RGS managed to force their way over and a quick conversion allowed for one last play. Hearts were in mouths as RGS moved to within ten metres but the home side sniffed a chance at the breakdown and got their penalty, sealing a dramatic and exciting 39-36 victory.
Elsewhere Tonbridge backed up their superb victory at Harrow last week with a 23-13 victory over a strong St Paul’s side on Saturday, in eight days now they look to have really set up for a grandstand finish to their 2019 season in the coming weeks.
Whitgift showed few signs of wear and tear after their midweek Cup victory, beating an RGS High Wycombe side still reeling from their exit in the same competition in the week by a decent 24-11 margin, setting up nicely for a run that sees them take on Dulwich and Millfield in the coming weeks.
Clifton College, meanwhile, remain flying high at the top end of the table as they secured an impressive 12-5 victory away at Sherborne on Saturday. The Dorset side made them work just about as hard as anyone has this season though, however the away side dug in well to secure the victory as they keep their sights set on a Daily Mail Trophy challenge.
The Barnard Castle v QEGS Wakefield result is yet to be confirmed.
There were some hugely entertaining games and impressive performances elsewhere on Saturday, not least Cranleigh maintaining their unbeaten record with a superb 29-0 victory over RGS Guildford.
Also keeping their unbeaten record in tact were Haileybury, who traveled to a Reed’s side that gave been in good form. Reed’s held the bulk of the early possession but the away side’s defence held firm and a brilliant kick from Harry Jinks released Ehimen Osebor to score, giving them a 5-0 lead at the break in filthy conditions. The visitors had more of the ball in the second half and the scores soon followed, through Chris Cavalli-Warby and Luke Igolen-Robinson for a 17-0 lead. Reed’s stuck that the task, scoring later in the half to reduce the score to 17-7, but it was another strong performance and victory for Haileybury.
Elsewhere Canford’s outstanding form continues, they secured a 16-6 victory at Bryanston to keep their unbeaten regular season in tact too.
Woodhouse Grove meanwhile built on their thrilling Schools Cup win over St Peter’s in midweek with a 29-10 victory at Grammar School at Leeds, while Dean Close continue to look impressive as they secured a 33-5 victory at home to Malvern College.
Denstone College have been one of the season’s most consistent performers and once more their exciting attacking play and resolute defence were on show as they sealed a brilliant 60-0 victory over Trent College.
After a hard-earned midweek Cup victory, Warwick had to work hard again on Saturday for an 8-0 victory over Bedford, while Abingdon also backed up a hard fought Cup win with a hard earned Saturday victory, beating Eton College 19-15.
Like Blundell’s, Uppingham and Oakham both bounced back from their energy-sapping Champions Trophy quarter final defeats with victories on Saturday, Uppingham beating Solihull in a tight game 22-19, while Oakham were in great form against Oundle, winning 40-17. Dulwich College could not make in 4/4 for the defeated Champions Trophy quarter though, John Fisher, who seem to be really loving this second half of term, digging really deep against the injury hampered men in blue for an 18-12 victory away from home.
Schools Plate holder Bloxham were also in action on Saturday, beating Wellingborough 31-0 in very wet an testing conditions, with flanker Sean Baker, who represents London Broncos U19 in rugby league, scoring twice and adding three conversions ahead of their big Plate game on Wednesday afternoon against Worksop College. Worksop, meanwhile, came across a Wisbech Grammar School side in their best form of the season, form that carried them to an impressive 29-0 victory away from home.
Sedbergh’s stunning unbeaten season to date continued, they secured a 67-17 victory against Lancaster RGS, a result that leaves them just two weekends shy of making it three years since their last defeat. The side to do it, Kirkham Grammar School, on 23rd November 2016. Kirkham themselves are enjoying a fine season once again and that continued on Saturday with a 59-7 defeat of Queen Ethelburga’s. Meanwhile in Scotland Stewart’s Melville sprung a surprise, beating the impressive George Watson’s College 44-19.
St John’s Leatherhead were in excellent form at home to old rivals Eastbourne College, securing a 29-0 victory that sets them up nicely for their trip to the Twickenham Stoop on Wednesday against Caterham. It was a similar margin for Seaford College, who beat Portsmouth Grammar 26-0, while Trinity looked really impressive on the way to a 23-0 victory over Hurstpierpoint College.
Despite some really testing conditions St Edward’s Oxford were able to put on an impressive display against Stowe, securing a 24-3 victory, while Cheltenham College faced up to the massive challenge of Hartpury College’s non-AASE side, stepping up superbly for a 7-0 victory at home.
There was silverware for Marlborough College on Saturday as they dug in through the wet and the mud for a 17-7 victory at Radley College, earning them the Silk Cup for the first time outright since 2013.
There was a special celebration at St Albans too as they celebrated their rugby centenary against their oldest opponents, QES Barnet and took the victory too, winning 36-21.
The Clash – in Aid of Leukaemia UK: Loughborough Grammar School 13-20 Nottingham High School
On Saturday evening Loughborough Grammar hosted Nottingham High School at Loughborough University as their raised money for Leukaemia UK, supporting the daughter of one of the school’s staff, Mr Miles, who is undergoing treatment for Leukeamia.
The fairytale of a Loughborough victory was not to be realised for the school, Nottingham High School putting in one of their best displays of the season for a 20-13 victory. However the day was really about so much more than rugby and donations can still be made here: www.justgiving.com/theclash
It was a relatively busy day of schools rugby on Friday, King’s Grantham made it through to the next round of the Schools Vase thanks to an impressive 33-5 victory at Newcastle-Under-Lyme.
St George’s Harpenden were also in strong form, beating St Columba’s College 36-17, while Glasgow High School absolutely stunned their rivals Glasgow Academy with a 52-7 victory. Things were, meanwhile, incredibly tight between The Crypt and St Peter’s Gloucester, indeed they could not be separated at all and drew 19-19, while Wallington County Grammar beat St Dunstan’s College 31-12.
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Schools Rugby Weekend Results – Saturday 9th November:
Barnard Castle v QEGS Wakefield – TBC
Blundell’s 6-0 Millfield
Epsom College 30-0 Brighton College
Hampton 12-12 Berkhamsted
Rugby 19-17 Stamford
Sherborne 5-12 Clifton College
St Peter’s, York 39-36 RGS Newcastle
Tonbridge 23-13 St Paul’s
Wellington College 28-14 Harrow
Whitgift 24-11 RGS High Wycombe
Abingdon 19-15 Eton College
AKS Lytham 5-19 Birkenhead
Aylesbury GS 3-0 Magdalen College
Bell Baxter HS 7-35 Robert Gordon’s College
Bishop Vesey’s GS 38-10 Adams GS
Bloxham 21-0 Wellingborough
Bolton 5-21 Wilmslow HS
Bryanston 6-16 Canford
Calday GS 0-50 Ellesmere College
Campion 43-5 Langley Park
Caterham 59-0 Worth
Cheadle Hulme 12-24 King’s Macclesfield
Cheltenham College 7-0 Hartpury College (non-AASE XV)
Claremont 7-22 Isleworth & Syon
Colston’s 30-25 Kingswood
Cranleigh 29-0 RGS Guildford
Culford 39-5 Woodbridge
Dean Close 33-5 Malvern College
Denstone College 60-0 Trent College
Downside 27-0 Prior Park College
Duke of York’s RMS 12-11 St Lawrence College
Dulwich College 12-18 John Fisher
Durham 44-0 Yarm
Durham 13-7 Austin Friars
Edinburgh Academy 11-17 Merchiston Castle
Eltham College 34-13 Ravens Wood
Emanuel 12-27 City of London Freemen’s
Fettes College 15-19 Dundee HS
George Heriot’s 27-33 Strathallan
Giggleswick 10-33 Bradford GS
Glenalmond College 54-0 Loretto
Grammar School at Leeds 10-29 Woodhouse Grove
Grange 16-35 Stockport GS
Gunnersbury 5-13 Latymer Upper
Haberdashers’ 0-29 Watford GS
Ipswich 20-14 Bishop’s Stortford HS
Judd 28-19 Sir Joseph Williamson’s
KES Birmingham 17-21 Princethorpe College
KES, Stratford 19-20 Pate’s GS
King’s Bruton 16-11 Monkton Combe
King’s College, Taunton 5-27 Monmouth
King’s Gloucester 14-15 Hereford Cathedral
King’s Worcester 0-22 Bristol GS
Kirkham GS 59-7 Queen Ethelburga’s
The Leys 15-17 Royal Hospital School
London Oratory 13-24 Glyn
Lord Wandsworth College 25-7 KES, Southampton
Loughborough GS 13-20 Nottingham HS
Merchant Taylors’ 24-15 St Benedict’s
Merchant Taylors’ 12-14 St Mary’s College (Schools Plate)
Norwich 24-10 Gresham’s
Oakham 40-17 Oundle
Old Swinford Hospital 43-5 RGS Worcester
The Oratory 18-7 Reading Blue Coat
Pangbourne College 31-22 Churcher’s College
The Perse 32-24 Bishop’s Stortford College
Plymouth College 17-24 West Buckland
Pocklington 25-12 Hymers College
QEH 33-21 KES Bath
Radley College 7-17 Marlborough College
Reed’s 7-17 Haileybury
Reigate GS 24-0 Christ’s Hospital
RGS Colchester 54-12 Bancroft’s
Seaford College 26-0 Portsmouth GS
Sedbergh 67-17 Lancaster RGS
Sevenoaks 37-7 King’s Canterbury
Shiplake College 0-22 Mill Hill
Skinners’ 15-14 KCS Wimbledon
Stewart’s Melville 44-19 George Watson’s College
St Albans 36-21 QES Barnet (100th Anniversary)
St Aloysius’ College 40-7 Hutchesons’ GS
St Edward’s, Oxford 24-3 Stowe
St John’s, Leatherhead 29-0 Eastbourne College
St Joseph’s College 19-21 Langley
Stonyhurst College 52-7 Ampleforth College
Sutton Valence 31-7 Cranbrook
Tiffin 0-29 St George’s College, Weybridge
Trinity 23-0 Hurstpierpoint College
Truro 0-26 Exeter
Uppingham 22-19 Solihull
Warwick 8-0 Bedford
Wellington 50-0 Queen’s College, Taunton
Wells Cathedral 0-19 Wycliffe College
Windsor Boys’ 0-34 UCS
Worksop College 0-29 Wisbech GS
Glasgow HS 52-7 Glasgow Academy
Newcastle-Under-Lyme 5-33 King’s Grantham (Schools Vase)
St Dunstan’s College 12-31 Wallington County GS
St George’s, Harpenden 36-17 St Columba’s College
The Crypt 19-19 St Peter’s, Gloucester
Still to Come:
Cobham International v Halliford
Dartford GS v Wimbledon College
Felsted v Framlingham College
Kelvinside Academy v Marr College
Maidstone GS v Chislehurst & Sidcup GS
Richard Hale v Hockerill