The U18 Schools Cup Semi Finals take place at Allianz Park on Saturday afternoon with four top quality sides in action.
First up are Warwick and Woodhouse Grove at 3pm, the champions against the Plate champions, followed by Whitgift v Marlborough College, the side Warwick beat in last year’s semi finals against a side coached by the man who led Bishop Wordsworth’s to the 2017 final, again against Warwick.
Four top sides that have impressed both in the campaign and during the regular season, who are sure to put on a show on Saturday afternoon, and you can watch it all via the England Rugby YouTube video below:
U18 Schools Cup Semi Finals:
Warwick v Woodhouse Grove – Saturday, 3pm, Allianz Park
Warwick (Midlands B)
Quarter Final: 29-20 v Rugby
Last 16: 38-12 v Uppingham
Round 3: 13-7 at Bromsgrove
Round 2: 55-0 at Solihull
Round 1: 53-0 v Old Swinford Hospital
Woodhouse Grove (North B)
Quarter Final: 27-16 at Wirral Grammar
Last 16: 21-13 at RGS Newcastle
Round 3: 21-7 at Kings Macclesfield
Round 2: 48-0 at QEGS Wakefield
Round 1: w/o at Rodillian Academy
What can be said about Warwick that was not already been said, this remarkable school has become almost synonymous with the Schools Cup in the last five or six years, with teams at U18 and U15 level dominating it.
They are the current back to back champions. Half of this side were part of the wider squad last year, the other half reached the U15 final back in 2017. Simply put, they know how to do it in these big games and will not be fazed.
Their route through tells you just as much, facing five big teams. They swatted aside local rivals Old Swinford Hospital and Solihull in the opening two rounds before a tight 13-7 victory at old rivals Bromsgrove in round 3, the last side to win the Schools Cup before Warwick.
The last 16 saw them beat Uppingham 38-12 before they then faced Rugby in the quarter final, unquestionably one of the best sides in the country this year. It was a belting game, but once again in the high pressure games Warwick come though, they won that one 29-20.
Woodhouse Grove are a different beast to what they have faced before though. Their record this season is remarkable and they have without question been one of the best three or four sides in the country. They are not just good though, they are tough and uncompromising too, led by England prop James Whitcombe.
Last year they won the Plate, at the time the biggest result in the schools history but they are out on Saturday to make even bigger history. The quality of sides beaten so far by them is impressive, QEGS Wakefield, King’s Macclesfield, St Joseph’s Festival champions RGS Newcastle, and then Wirral Grammar in the quarter finals, who reached last year’s Vase final.
Theirs was surely one of the hardest routes to Allianz Park but they have done it, now though they face their biggest challenge, Warwick. It could go either way, it is an almighty challenge for Warwick yet year after year they have passed these tests. A third final in a row would be mighty and give them the chance to match that stunning Dulwich College achievement of three in a row, but Woodhouse Grove are one hell of a side. Allianz Park will be rocking, that much is for sure.
Whitgift v Marlborough College – Saturday, 5pm, Allianz Park
Whitgift (London & South East A)
Quarter Final: 40-12 v Ivybridge Community College
Last 16: 8-6 at Campion
Round 3: 31-12 at Eltham College
Round 2: 55-6 at Judd
Round 1: 57-7 v Colfe’s
Marlborough College (South West B)
Quarter Final: 19-10 at Seaford College
Last 16: 19-10 at Dean Close
Round 3: 38-3 v Downside
Round 2: w/o at Cokethorpe
Round 1: Bye
Warwick are not the only side with a bit of history behind them going into this, so do Whitgift. Their U15s play in the U15 Cup semis on Sunday and are looking for back to back titles. Having a side in the U18 and U15 semi finals is special, Warwick and QEGS Wakefield may have made it look routine in recent times but, believe us, it’s anything but.
Whitgift have been a top side this season, with one of the toughest fixture lists on the circuit. That form has translated to the Cup where Colfe’s and Judd were put away with plenty to spare in the early rounds before a good win against rising stars Eltham College in the third round.
Then came the big challenge, an away last 16 tie at Campion. Campion are one of the hardest sides to travel to in this competition, many a top side has fallen there – just ask a seriously talented St Joseph’s College side of a few years ago. Whitgift won 8-6, a result that is so much better than it looks on paper. They then followed it up with a brilliant quarter final performance against Ivybridge Community College, who up until then had been sensational.
This Whitgift group are determined to secure victory, last year they were knocked out in heartbreaking fashion at this stage by Warwick and they will be hell-bent on going one better. Indeed knowing this group they will likely want to meet Warwick in the final.
However Marlborough College are going to pose a real challenge. The Wiltshire side have been in brilliant form this year and have some outstanding players. They are coached by Terry Gilmour, who led an unfancied Bishop Wordsworth’s side to the 2017 final, he knows what to do in this competition, and so do his charges.
One only has to look at their result in this competition, while the South West region has been a little threadbare in the early rounds of the Cup, their big test came in the last 16 where they faced a Dean Close side that is packed with England internationals. Marlborough were undaunted, winning 19-10 to head into the national stage of the competition.
There they faced Seaford College, as side almost criminally underrated this year and who many of us had as dark horses in this competition. Once again Marlborough were undaunted, and once again they won 19-10 against a side that has caused everyone major problems.
Now they face Whitgift, probably as slight underdogs, but that will not matter a jot to this group. It will not matter to Whitgift either, both of these teams are going to come flying into this game, with a place at Twickenham at stake. All that is certain is that it is going to be spectacular to watch under the Allianz Park lights.