It was the final weekend of the season and it certainly did not let anyone down as some fantastic rugby broke out across the country.
In selecting this week’s Top 5 we tried to pick out sides for whom their performance at the weekend was going to be particularly significant, and therefore had a bit more pressure riding on it.
Nevertheless outside of the selected there were dozens of outstanding performances and fantastic games, any one of which might well have merited a spot on the list.
Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend
Cranleigh went into the weekend with the Daily Mail Trophy title and an unbeaten season on the line. There were a number of permutations possible, but in all likelihood it would come down to them or Wellington College. The pressure was on, Wellington have been sensational all season so Cranleigh had to assume they would get maximum points, which meant Cranleigh in turn would need to take maximum points at home to a Canford side who had only lost one in-season game all term. They did it in style, winning 48-20 to guarantee the title no matter what happened elsewhere, becoming just the fourth side ever to win the Daily Mail Trophy. That level of performance under pressure showed exactly why they have been able to be so consistently good all year, sealing a superb achievement for the school.
Kirkham Grammar School
Kirkham Grammar hosted Woodhouse Grove on Friday night at Preston Grasshoppers RFC with the potential for an unbeaten season on the line. It was a high-stakes game for them, probably their biggest challenge of the season outside of the St Joseph’s Festival, where they reached the final in their first ever appearance. A fantastic game broke out, but Kirkham showed exactly the sort of resolve that they have demonstrated all season, securing a 22-13 victory to complete a sensational unbeaten season, capping a remarkably consistent few years for them.
Merchant Taylors’ were on hosting duties for a huge game on Saturday as they welcomed old rivals St Albans to town with an unbeaten season the prize should they hold out the visitors. Nerves were high, and Merchant Taylors were tested by St Albans as much as they have been by anyone, but under the pressure they dug deep and managed to display the sort of quality that has been their hallmark. They secured a 24-19 victory to seal a remarkable unbeaten season, making it ten wins from ten games, completing one of the great feats in schoolboy rugby.
It was an away trip with plenty of pressure for Sutton Valence on Saturday as they travelled to King’s Canterbury in search of a victory that would seal an unbeaten season. This remarkable side have reached the Schools Vase semi finals, and the only thing approaching a blemish on their record was a draw with a Whitgift side. That form suggested victory for them on Saturday, but with an unbeaten season on the line that all goes out of the window, handling the pressure becomes they key. They did so brilliantly, securing a 39-5 victory that should see them looking ahead to next term’s semi final with real confidence.
Just three days after becoming the first ever side to seal back to back Champions Trophy titles, to add to October’s St Joseph’s Festival title, Wellington College travelled to Tonbridge with the possibility of adding the Daily Mail Trophy title to the collection to complete a remarkable hat-trick. The pressure was on, and with a long injury list it was a huge challenge, one they were feeling as they headed towards the closing stages behind their hosts. This remarkable group dug in though and found away to seal both the victory and the bonus points, 28-22. Ultimately it was not enough, Cranleigh played their part and also sealed the bonus point win to leave the sides level at the top (Cranleigh’s 100% record and fewer games taken to reach the same total tilting it their way), but Wellington had done all that they possibly could, finishing up the term with only the excellent Sedbergh getting the better of them.
Elsewhere Clifton College and Epsom College were also in with outside chances of a crack at the Daily Mail Trophy title, both did the job, beating Cheltenham College and St John’s Leatherhead respectively, but ultimately with Cranleigh and Wellington doing their job, those victories were never going to be enough.
Aylesbury Grammar earned a 19-12 victory at Campion that leaves them having been defeated just once all year, so too Dean Close, whose superb 33-5 victory over RGS High Wycombe leaves them unbeaten bar their Cup defeat. Isleworth & Syon had a magnificent 55-0 victory at home to Ibstock Place, leaving them in a similar position, with just one defeat all year.
There were impressive victories for Langley, Ampleforth College, and Oakham. Meanwhile Norwich won a thriller in Bishop’s Stortford with King’s Worcester and Whitgift also in epic try-scoring form. Denstone College and Bloxham were both in typically magnificent form, as they have been all year, Denstone winning 63-0 at Nottingham, Bloxham 50-5 at home to Welbeck. Seaford College meanwhile were also big winners, 42-0 over Caterham.
There was an impressive victory for Sir Thomas Rich’s over Northampton School for Boys, and a strong derby day win for Taunton School over King’s College.
There were a number of really close contests, among them a really tight 35-34 victory for St Peter’s York at Pocklington and Marlborough College’s 24-23 victory over Eton College. Two gritty results, but neither as close as the 17-17 draw between Radley College and Oundle.
Sedbergh closed out for the year in style, beating Llandovery College 32-7 to leave them with just one defeat all season, to an inspired Millfield side. In Four seasons they have lost just two games, a stunning record.