A stunning few days of Cup rugby has seen the bulk of the semi finalists for the U18 Schools Cup, Plate, Vase, and Bowl decided.
With the semi final draws for each competition being confirmed as QF1 v QF2 and QF3 v QF4, that also now means that we know most of the fixtures that will take place at Allianz Park in that opening weekend of March.
U18 Schools Cup
The Cup action began on Tuesday in the Cup with North A champions King’s Macclesfield, hosting North B champions QEGS Wakefield. QEGS reached the U15 final three years in a row, finally winning it at the third attempt, and those top U15 players are now this year’s U18 team, and indeed last year’s who also made the semi finals. They showed all of the Cup quality and experience on Tuesday to secure a brilliant 29-0 win on Tuesday to send them into this year’s semi finals.
They will face Northampton Schools for Boys, who won last year’s Vase. Their rise, with Paul Grayson’s help has been spectacular, and on Wednesday they saw off last year’s quarter finalists, Judd, with a magnificent performance for a 19-3 win. Judd actually took a 3-0 lead, but terrific line speed from NSB denied them much chance to attack, and when kicking the ball away, England U18 winger Ollie Sleightholme and the rest of his back three were waiting to pounce for this fantastic NSB group.
Warwick are the reigning champions, and like QEGS, they had a run of spectacular success at U15 level that is paying off with a series of outstanding U18 sides. They showed all of that quality and Cup nous on Wednesday with a simply outstanding performance against Canford. It was expected to be a pretty tight game but Warwick were simply unstoppable as they charged to a 57-12 victory and yet another semi final appearance.
Awaiting them could be the side that they performed so outstandingly well against in last year’s final, Bishop Wordsworth’s. The South West side face Whitgift on Saturday in the last of the four quarter finals, and it could quite easily be the best of the lot, certainly they are both playing spectacular rugby.
At this point though, what odds on a Warwick v QEGS Wakefield final? These two seem inextricably linked, facing each other three times in a row in U15 finals, and meeting in last year’s quarter final at U18 level, an epic that Warwick just pinched by two points.
U18 Schools Cup Semi Finals
Bishop Wordsworth’s/Whitgift v Warwick
Northampton School for Boys v QEGS Wakefield
U18 Schools Cup Quarter Finals
Bishop Wordsworth’s (South West A) v Whitgift (London & South East A) – Saturday 13.30
Warwick (Midlands B) 57-12 Canford (South West B)
Northampton School for Boys (Midlands A) 19-3 Judd (London & South East B)
King’s Macclesfield (North A) 0-29 QEGS Wakefield (North B)
U18 Schools Plate
St Ambrose College booked their Vase semi final spot with a superb 24-17 victory away at KES Birmingham. They face a very tricky semi final though after the London & South East B champions, Trinity, put in one of the performances of the quarter finals, across all the competitions, to beat a good New Hall side by a stunning 41-16 margin.
On the other side of the draw Woodhouse Grove demonstrated their quality at Uppingham. Despite having had byes since the opening round of the Plate, the Yorkshire side showed they know how to win in Cup rugby as they travelled to Rutland for a 22-7 victory against an Uppingham side that had enjoyed a thrilling last 16 win over Greshams. They will now face former Cup champions St Peter’s Gloucester in the semi finals after the South West A champions put in an excellent performance to beat South West B winners, Richard Huish, 37-12.
U18 Schools Plate Semi Finals
St Ambrose College v Trinity
Woodhouse Grove v St Peter’s, Gloucester
U18 Schools Plate Quarter Finals
KES Birmingham (Midlands B) 17-24 St Ambrose College (North A)
Trinity (London & South East B) 41-16 New Hall (London & South East A)
Uppingham (Midlands A) 7-22 Woodhouse Grove (North B)
St Peter’s, Gloucester (South West A) 37-12 Richard Huish (South West B)
U18 Schools Vase
Of the four competitions, the Vase is the least complete, with a couple of fixtures still to be played. Dauntsey’s, the South West A champions, and King’s Worcester, winners in Midlands A, meet on Wednesday. The will face Langley one Wednesday after the Midlands B winners put together yet another spectacular performance. They beat one of the real stories of this year’s competition, Hayes from London & South East A, but a hugely impressive 45-5 margin, and must be considered among the favourites.
Ripon Grammar, North B champions, and Sir William Borlase’s, South West B winners, also meet on Wednesday. The winner there will face the North A champions Wirral Grammar School after they beat one of the real favourites for the tournaments, Reed’s, 20-12 on Wednesday afternoon, suggesting that they are in with a real shout this year.
U18 Schools Vase Semi Finals
Dauntsey’s/King’s Worcester v Langley
Ripon Grammar/Sir William Borlase’s v Wirral Grammar
U18 Schools Vase Quarter Finals
Dauntsey’s (South West A) v King’s Worcester (Midlands A) – Wednesday 13th December
Langley (Midlands B) 45-5 Hayes (London & South East A)
Ripon GS (North B) v Sir William Borlase’s (South West B) – Wednesday 13th December
Wirral Grammar School (North A) 20-12 Reed’s (London & South East B)
U18 Schools Bowl
King Henry VIII, Coventry secured their semi final spot with an excellent 31-15 win away at John Hampden, who had taken South West B by storm. They will face Midlands B winners Samuel Whitbread after their stunning 67-0 victory against North A champions Ashville College on Friday afternoon, the most dominant win of anyone across all four competitions in the quarter finals.
Ravens Wood made the long trip up to Otley to face Prince Henry’s Grammar on Wednesday, but it was worth the drive as they recorded an outstanding 34-10 victory to send them into the semi finals. The London & South East A champions will face their London & South East B counterparts as St George’s College Weybridge beat Mount Kelly in what was by all accounts a fantastic game of rugby in the South West, with St George’s running out 31-15 winners.
U18 Schools Bowl Semi Finals
King Henry VIII, Coventry v Samuel Whitbread
Ravens Wood v St George’s College, Weybridge
U18 Schools Bowl Quarter Finals
John Hampden (South West B) 15-31 King Henry VIII, Coventry (Midlands A)
Samuel Whitbread (Midlands B) 67-0 Ashville College (North B)
Prince Henry’s GS (North A) 10-34 Ravens Wood (London & South East A)
Mount Kelly (South West A) 15-31 St George’s College, Weybridge (London & South East B)