It is hard to believe that the school season is already underway, it feels like only yesterday that we were all basking in the, occasional, sunshine at the Rosslyn Park HSBC National School 7s.
Underway it is though, and by the looks of things we are in for a brilliant season. The quality of the fixture list on this opening weekend is outstanding, and watching some of the teamsheets come through as I type this is a reminder of the sheer quality of player on the school circuit.
The last few months have been a real triumph for schools rugby, with Tom Curry, Ben Curry, and Nick Isiekwe all joining the England tour of Argentina just a year after leaving Oundle and Haileybury respectively, followed by Marcus Smith, just two months after leaving Brighton College, being named in the England training squad and starting for Harlequins.
No matter how talented all of these players are, the efforts of their schools and academies are an enormous part of their success. Without that effort, time, and dedication, there is no way that they would be ready so fast.
Who might this year’s school leavers turned Premiership stars be? Perhaps Will Porter might feature for Wasps if Dan Robson or Joe Simpson get the England nod, maybe Cadan Murley will join Marcus Smith in the Quins backline, on Nick Rigby might pack down for Worcester. Ted Hill surely will, so too Marcus Street at Exeter.
So what else is there to look forward to this season? For me the return of Wellington College to knockout rugby is certainly going to be a highlight. They join the elite Champions Trophy this year, their first foray into 1st XV level fifteen-a-side knockout rugby since the were Schools Cup defending champions back in 08/09. Imports will be limited to 3, as always, but anyone who saw their 7s side in action at Colts level last year knows that they have plenty of talented players coming through.
Every year there are always a couple of schools to emerge from the crowd and become real contenders, Bishop Wordsworth’s and Felsted were the two great examples last year and following the schools that emerge this year will undoubtedly be a highlight. An early tip could be Dean Close School, they produced England U18 winger Tom Seabrook, while last year’s Colts were unbeaten, keep an eye on the men from the South West early on.
The real highlight though will be the same on that it always is, watching the most expressive form of the game being played, schools rugby. It is one of the great pleasures of working with Fifteen Rugby, three or four times a week we get to see some of the most fantastic and free-flowing rugby that there is, played between people that know each other so well that it is almost instinctive.
We will be providing you with as full and detailed an amount of coverage as possible, hopefully with an ever increasing amount of video as it becomes easier and more widely trusted around the country.
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Most of all though, it’s great to be back in the full swing of things. There’s a great fixture list this weekend and we can’t wait to get started!
Enjoy the season!