It was another top weekend of schools rugby, with every team now feeling like they are in full flow as we edge towards half term.
Right across the country there were fantastic games of rugby and some epic performances. There was also no shortage of drama, with plenty of late comebacks reported in.
Some sides are marking themselves out as real teams to watch, many of the usual suspects but also some sides that have not been used to being right at the very top of the game on a regular basis, however they are certainly there now.
As always, picking out just five teams was never easy but below we have given it our best shot!
Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend
If the idea of age-group rugby is to get better each time that you play, then Canford delivered that on Saturday against Bishop Wordworth’s. They had met in the Cup nine days before, Canford winning 32-5, on Saturday they met again and this time Canford stretched out that advantage to 49-10. It was another sign of just what a tremendous season this has been so far for Canford, four victories from four games, their only ‘blip’ being a narrow loss to Millfield in what was a semi training game right at the start of the season. With just Taunton on Saturday to come, there is every chance of an unbeaten half term from Canford, a fine achievement that would be.
Cheadle Hulme have been pretty irrepressible all season, heading into Saturday they had six victories from six games, including over the likes of Bradford Grammar, who are unbeaten bar facing Cheadle Hulme. On Saturday they went a step further in making it seven from seven. They faced a Stockport Grammar side who have found results hard to come by and were therefore strong favourites against them, however nobody could have predicted what Cheadle Hulme actually managed to do as they ran riot on their way to a staggering 77-7 victory. They are in such red hot form, and with three fixtures to go until the break, they must have their eye on an unbeaten half term. Though with QEGS coming in the Cup, they will know they need to stay absolutely on their game.
What more can we say about Clifton College that has not already been said except that on Saturday they seem to have gone up yet another gear. They went into Saturday with victories over Monmouth, Sir Thomas Rich’s, and Millfield. Only Sir Thomas Rich’s had scored a try against them, and even then only one, Millfield were kept scoreless. On Saturday they faced Marlborough College, a decent side but one that Clifton were expected to beat given that Marlborough had lost three in a row. However Clifton went and put on their most dominant display of the season, winning by a staggering sixty-three points to nil, sending them into Tuesday’s Champions Trophy game at Oakham absolutely bouncing. Without doubt, we are talking about one of the best in the country here.
Haileybury have crept a little under the radar so far this season, but they started last week unbeaten, with four wins from four against some real traditional rivals. On Wednesday they then stepped up again, winning the intense one-day Hertfordshire County Cup title, topping seventeen other schools. They hosted St Albans then on Saturday absolutely bursting with confidence and boy did it show as they secured a 40-20 victory to make it five victories from five games, plus the County Cup title. With only Bedford to come prior to half term, whom Haileybury must surely fancy themselves against this year, the prospect of an unbeaten first half of term is very much a real one.
Stamford appear to rather like a dramatic finish, having beaten Bromsgrove a few weeks ago with a last minute drop goal, they went even more dramatic against local rivals Uppingham on Saturday. First though, some back-story. Uppingham came in confident, enjoying their best season in years and they had beaten Oakham by two points the week before for the first time in a decade. Stamford meanwhile had lost by two to Oakham, so Uppingham had a four point theoretical advantage. With six minutes to go, that theory was appearing to be going into practice, Uppingham were nine points clear. However a try out wide saw Stamford reduce that gap to four. Then, with the clock in the red, they battered their way through with the forwards, scoring for the lead and then making that 22-19 at the whistle with the conversion to secure the inaugural Robert Wills Memorial Cup. High scoring victories are impressive, but these tight victories that Stamford keep producing speak to their immense character and deservedly secures them a spot in this week’s Top 5.
There were of course plenty of other outstanding displays this weekend, Sherborne, Kirkham Grammar, Epsom College and Rugby further confirming their status in our minds as some of the best around with convincing victories over Abingdon, Mount St Mary’s, Reed’s, and Cheltenham College respectively.
Millfield meanwhile got back on the horse with a really impressive display against Bromsgrove for a 29-10 victory, while Harrow and Berkhamsted both impressed in victory over St Paul’s and Dulwich College.
There were sizeable victories for Brighton College, Sutton Valence, St George’s Weybridge, Old Swinford Hospital, Exeter, and Wisbech Grammar, among others, all of whom warranted consideration for this week’s Top 5.
First victories of the season for Eton College and Stowe over Bedford and Oundle were impressive, as was a strong performance from Ampleforth College.
A tight victory for RGS Newcastle was impressive, but so too was Woodhouse Grove’s effort in running them close, 18-16 that one finished. Barnard Castle continue to look like a seriously good side, while Bradford Grammar were again in great form. The Leys made it to big victories in a week, while Magdalen College claimed a signature victory over St Edward’s, Oxford.