As mentioned last week, in these early stages of the season selecting a top five for our ‘Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend’ is a tricky business.
Working out where each side stands at this stage is a fool’s game, it takes a good few matches to see the patterns emerge. The great upside of that is some fantastic games of rugby and a huge number of unpredictable results and outcomes. The downside of that is that sometimes a close game now does not necessarily seem the excellent outcome that it will prove to be later in the season when the patterns have emerged.
All of which is a roundabout way of introducing this week’s top five, which, unusually for us, is dominated by sides that chalked up high scorelines – though they are certainly all sides that have hugely impressed not just this weekend, but across the entire beginning of this 2019/20 schools rugby season.
Top 5 School Teams of the Weekend
RGS High Wycombe
RGS High Wycombe pulled off a superb victory on Saturday as they beat schools rugby legends Millfield 22-19. It was a monumental effort and a fantastic result for RGS who have had a couple of quiet years but could really use this as a springboard right up to the top. The signs are good, in pre-season they beat Seaford College, who have flown out of the traps this year, before beating Reading Blue Coat in their opener, followed by Millfield on Saturday. RGS have some huge momentum behind them as, incidentally, to Reading Blue Coat who ran them close last week and in the context of RGS’ result must consider that a really excellent effort.
Prior to the season kick off plenty was expected of Rugby, they have been building and building in the last few years and they looked like this could be a strong year. Early signs are that they are living up to that expectation and more. They began the season with a strong win at home to Oakham, and then on Saturday they were quite simply sensational as they tore away to a 66-7 victory at Bedford. To add further gloss to that, it was also a Champions Trophy game and Bedford are former champions. Rugby now head into the second round and will probably head into that as one of the handful of favourites, no mean feat in a very elite competition.
Sevenoaks have really impressed us early on this season. In the last few years they have not often been big headline makers but this year they have certainly started off that way. They began with a strong win over Caterham, a side that really impressed last season, and then on Saturday they stepped up another notch with a fantastic 51-0 victory over Reigate Grammar School, who themselves had started fairly well. They have a bit of a rest now until their next game against City of London Freemen’s, but they have a real chance to build up some irrepressible momentum.
Sherborne’s start to the season has been outstanding. They began with a brilliant win over Bishop Wordsworth’s last weekend, which was a strong way to start but, if anything, they topped that on Saturday with a stunning 42-0 victory at home to Radley College. Their next game is against Downside in the Schools Cup, and with this sort of momentum building already they could put together a really strong Cup run. After that comes a key trio of games, Marlborough, Abingdon, Millfield, how they do there will tell us everything about this group that has been so impressive to date.
Uppingham have had a brilliant start to the season, they started with a strong pre-season tour of Italy and then beat The Leys in their opener. However Saturday’s result was a standout as they beat The Perse 52-0. Once a real stronghold of schools rugby, Uppingham have been fairly quiet for a while now but that sort of result is the type that suggests a bit of a turn in fortunes under Nick De Luca. The challenge for them now comes from their next three opponents, Bedford followed by local rivals Oakham and Stamford. Form suggests they are favourites for the Bedford game, before the white heat of that Rutland derby against Oakham that so far suggests it could be a cracker. A good set of performances in those 3, and Uppingham rugby really is back on the up.
Of course these were far from the only performances that particularly impressed us, for instance Seaford College were in stunning form against an Eastbourne College side who only a week before had been one of the more talked about sides in school rugby. Dulwich College responded brilliantly to a tough opener at Wellington College to win at St Joseph’s College, so too Woodhouse Grove at QEGS Wakefield, while Sedbergh and Bromsgrove both continue to impress.
Barnard Castle were one again in try scoring form along with the likes of St Albans, Clifton College, who are looking seriously good, Cranleigh, and Epsom College.
Denstone College very nearly made it into the Top 5 for the second week running, their clash against Sedbergh is going to be great. Bradford Grammar, Dean Close, Langley, Loughborough College, and The Oratory all showed tremendous try scoring form, so too King’s Ely, Stonyhurst College, Manchester Grammar, Aylesbury Grammar, and Pocklington.
Campion and Lord Wandsworth College both enjoyed Cup victories, Lord Wandsworth in particularly exciting fashion, winning by just a point, the added pressure in those games making them particularly impressive.
There were also a number of really tight but impressive victories from a number of sides, not least a brilliant effort from Haileybury against Felsted, as well as Canford’s win over Blundell’s, and Trinity’s Croydon derby victory over John Fisher. Maybe the best of the bunch though was Harrow, winning a real epic against Warwick, 27-24.
Marlborough College and St Peter’s York impressed too, keeping up their momentum, while Kirkham Grammar and Whitgift showed their undoubted class with identical 48-0 victories.