Dec 11, 2018

Weekend Preview: Saturday 24th November

 

With the thrills of another brilliant midweek of school rugby coming to a close, it is time again to look ahead to what is expected to be yet another awesome weekend.

Last weekend was a classic, the results card was littered with games that went right down to the wire and with any luck a repeat might be on the way this weekend. There are some monstrous fixtures, not least one in Yorkshire that it feels as though the season has been counting towards for some time now.

With so many massive games taking place on Thursday, and a number of boarding schools having an exeat weekend, the fixture list is slightly reduced compared to normal but is certainly not lacking in any quality.

 

Focus On 

Berkhamsted v St Paul’s

A really exciting fixture between two sides that have performed exceptionally well this season to date. Berkhamsted has been playing some fantastic rugby, but they will need to be switched on right from the start after a ten day lay off following their victory over Oakham at Allianz Park last Wednesday. St Paul’s meanwhile have just hit a tough patch of form, a draw with Tonbridge sandwiched between narrow defeats to Bristol Grammar and Eton College. Reversing that slight iffy patch against Berkhamsted would be an impressive achievement given Berkhamsted’s quality, but St Paul’s have plenty of quality of their own to do the job.

Prediction: Berkhamsted

Bishop Wordsworth’s v Marlborough College

A really exciting game this, and one with a good back story behind the scenes as Marlborough coach Terry Gilmour takes his side to the school he guided to the Schools Cup final back in March 2017. Both are playing good rugby this season, including two defeats of Sherborne for Bishop Wordsworth’s. Marlborough meanwhile has been really excellent, only Radley and Eton have toppled them and both of those were incredibly tight games. It all ought to set up for a cracking encounter on Saturday afternoon, Marlborough probably starts as favourites after such a strong season so far, however, there is very little in this and it could go either way.

Prediction: Marlborough College

Blundell’s v Bristol Grammar

Another really exciting game between two sides that are having brilliant seasons. Bristol Grammar will be hurting after such a narrow Champions Trophy exit to Wellington College on Tuesday, but at the same time they will be bursting with pride at the spirit of that performance and determined to make sure that they carry it through to Saturday. For Blundell’s, it is a massive game too though, a narrow win over Millfield a fortnight ago was a real high point of the season for them and they will be utterly determined not to let the momentum of a victory like that burst. Both are top quality sides, and as ever that should set us up for an outstanding game of rugby on Saturday.

Prediction: Blundell’s

Bromsgrove v Stowe 

It will be two weeks since Stowe’s last game when this kicks off, a defeat to Rugby School being their last game. The week before that though they got their first win of the season, so they should still travel with much more confidence that they have had through the rest of the season. Bromsgrove are going to be a tough nut to crack though, they are having a good season that perhaps has not received the attention it should, only Millfield, Warwick, and Rugby have defeated them, three top sides. Bromsgrove’s defeat to Rugby was 20-12, while Stowe’s was 38-5, suggesting that Bromsgrove start as favourites, but Stowe will be up for this, have no doubt about that.

Prediction: Bromsgrove

Dulwich College v Tonbridge 

A couple of years ago this was one of the fixtures of the season, where year on year these two were two of the top three of four in the country, at least. They might not be quite at those heights right now, but Dulwich, in particular, are not far off. They hold the Champions Trophy, at least for a couple more weeks, and are having a brilliant season. Only Wellington, Hampton, and Whitgift have beaten them, and against Hampton and Whitgift, in particular, the margins were so fine as to be completely heartbreaking from a Dulwich point of view. Tonbridge’s season has been slightly different, four defeats from their opening 6 was a tough start but since a win over Eastbourne in October they have been flying, beating Harrow and King’s Canterbury and drawing with St Paul’s, they would love to keep that run going on Saturday.

Prediction: Dulwich College

Hampton v Cranleigh 

This has been a cracking little rivalry on the 7s field in the last few years, and it could well be on the 15s field this year. Hampton is having an excellent season, winning some massive games and only losing twice despite some injury troubles in key positions. Cranleigh is quietly in great form too though, they are on a five-game winning streak and have not lost since mid-September. Even then only Brighton and Epsom defeated them, so it looks as though we are in for a fantastic game of rugby on Saturday with both sides feeling confident and playing some brilliant rugby this season.

Prediction: Hampton

Millfield v Whitgift

This is an absolutely fascinating game, there is no doubt that both are exceptional sides this year and with any luck that should set us up for a fantastic game on Saturday. Prior to half term, Millfield was flying, unbeaten in a run of games that included a brilliant win over Wellington College, one of the best games of the season to date. Since then injuries have hit though and the going has been ever so slightly tougher, even so, they have still won two from three, beating Cheltenham and Llandovery while losing to Blundell’s in between. Whitgift have been flying too, they haven’t lost since September when they suffered narrow defeats to Wellington and Sedbergh, two of the very best. Last week they showed stunning spirit to come from behind to beat Dulwich, proving they are a team for all occasions. If both are at their absolute best you’d fancy Millfield to edge it, but anything less than that and Whitgift will pounce. This could be spectacular.

Prediction: Millfield

Seaford College v Wimbledon College (Schools Cup)

This game is the London & South East B Regional Final in the U18 Schools Cup, the winner will be heading to the quarterfinals, so there is plenty at stake on Saturday. Seaford is flying this season, only Whitgift have defeated them in the regular season, though the St Joseph’s Festival was a slightly tougher experience. They will be feeling great ahead of this one, particularly with home advantage, however, they face a Wimbledon College side that will be feeling equally good. Wimbledon has not been defeated since an opening day loss to St John’s Leatherhead, a ten game run that is going to take some stopping. Even without the Cup element riding on this, it would suggest a great contest, throw the Cup into the mix too and we could have a classic.

Prediction: Seaford College

Uppingham v Warwick (Schools Cup) 

Another U18 Schools Cup game to make our Focus On list, this one is the Midlands B Regional Final. Warwick, of course, are the reigning champions with back to back titles behind them, Uppingham meanwhile has no such Cup record. Nevertheless, they are enjoying one of their best seasons in a long time, only losing three games and beating rivals such as Stamford and Oundle. Their Cup run to date has been excellent, but in Warwick, they face a formidable opponent. Their Cup run has seen them hand out heavy defeats to Old Swinford Hospital and Solihull before defeating 2015 and 2016 champions Bromsgrove in the last round. Outside of the Cup only Wellington, Whitgift, and Sedbergh have defeated them, three of the best around. Chasing three titles in a row is a pressurized situation though, one that Uppingham will hope to exploit.

Prediction: Warwick

Woodhouse Grove v Sedbergh 

This is just massive. Both sides are unbeaten, both are playing some stunning rugby, and both are rightly regarded as being among the very best teams in the country. The Sedbergh fixture list has been tougher, featuring the likes of Whitgift, RGS Newcastle, Kirkham Grammar and, last week, Warwick. They have sailed through it unbeaten and are looking just as formidable as last year’s all-conquering outfit. This game is one of a run of four that will define their season though, having beaten Warwick last week they face Woodhouse Grove on Saturday ahead of games against Wellington College then Millfield. Come through it unscathed and they will have no doubters. Woodhouse Grove is in a similar situation though, a Cup win over RGS Newcastle on Wednesday sent them to their first ever quarter-final, and this next few weeks with that Cup quarter plus games against Kirkham Grammar and Saturday against Sedbergh will define how their season is viewed. The stakes are massive on Saturday, and around the country, people cannot wait for this one.

Prediction: Sedbergh

 

Saturday 

Outside of our Focus On games, there are plenty of other fascinating fixtures on Saturday among them Abingdon v RGS Guildford, Abingdon ought to be confident after a midweek Plate win over St Peter’s Gloucester, while RGS have played some excellent rugby so far this year. St Peter’s meanwhile have an incredible challenge on Saturday as they welcome the outstanding Kirkham Grammar to town, Kirkham once again putting some serious miles in as they expand their catalogue of opponents.

Brighton College’s trip to John Fisher ought to be a good one too, it usually makes for a cracking game of rugby. While Brighton might be having a stronger season that John Fisher, you can be sure that the Croydon hosts will make life incredibly tough for Brighton, who will have to work incredibly hard for victory or Fisher will be poised to pounce.

Whizzing round the M25, St John’s Leatherhead host KCS Wimbledon. St John’s are having a strong year again, while KCS have had it a bit tougher, but Saturday should see a good contest. There ought also to be a good contest in Oxfordshire where St Edward’s, fresh from their first victory of the season, host The Oratory, who made it through to the Vase quarterfinals on Wednesday.

In Hertfordshire, Stamford will have to raise themselves up again after that stunning but exhausting victory over Rugby last week. They head to St Alban's, and while they will start as favourites they will not want to let last week’s standards slip or St Albans will pounce.

St Joseph’s College suffered defeat to Denstone College in a brilliant game on Wednesday evening, they will be keen to bounce straight back at home on Saturday when they host Gresham’s. Meanwhile in the North RGS Newcastle are also seeking to bounce straight back after midweek defeat, they lost out to Woodhouse Grove in the Cup on Wednesday and will have to be right back on it on Saturday to keep out a strong Lancaster RGS side.

 

Tom Burrow Cup 

Saturday also sees the Tom Burrow Cup take place at Silcoates School. Usually held in March it has been moved to this weekend due to some of the difficulties that post-Christmas rugby is now posing to every school – a topic worthy of lengthy discussion elsewhere. Played in memory of much loved former Silcoates pupil Tom Burrow, Austin Friars, Altrincham Grammar, Yarm, and Newcastle School for Boys will all compete alongside Silcoates for what should be a very special afternoon of rugby.

 

Schools Rugby Weekend Preview – Saturday 24th November (predictions in bold): 

Focus On

Berkhamsted v St Paul’s

Bishop Wordsworth’s v Marlborough College

Blundell’s v Bristol GS

Bromsgrove v Stowe

Dulwich College v Tonbridge

Hampton v Cranleigh

Millfield v Whitgift

Seaford College v Wimbledon College (Schools Cup)

Warwick v Uppingham (Schools Cup)

Woodhouse Grove v Sedbergh

 

Saturday 

Abingdon v RGS Guildford

Ashville College v Bradford GS

Aylesbury GS v Watford GS

Bishop Vesey’s GS v King’s Worcester

Campion v Dartford GS

Cardinal Vaughan v Enfield GS

Caterham v Worth

Cheadle Hulme v Manchester GS

Christ’s College v Plymouth College

Christ’s Hospital v King’s Canterbury

Churcher’s College v Halliford

City of London Freemen’s v Portsmouth GS

Claires Court v Windsor Boys

Clifton HS v Bristol Cathedral

Coopers’ Coborn v Colfe’s

Crossley Heath v Queen Ethelburga’s

Crypt v Colston’s

Dollar Academy v Robert Gordon’s College

Duke of York’s RMS v St Dunstan’s College

Durham v Dame Allan’s

Eltham College v Cranbrook

Emanuel v Latymer Upper

Glasgow HS v Strathallan

Grammar School at Leeds v Stockport GS

Hymers College v Birkdale

Ipswich v RGS Colchester

John Fisher v Brighton College

Judd v Langley Park

KES Birmingham v Adams GS

KES Southampton v Magdalen College

Kingswood v King’s College, Taunton

Lancaster RGS v RGS Newcastle

Leicester GS v Northampton SfB

Leys v Bishop’s Stortford HS

Maidstone GS v St Olave’s GS

Merchiston Castle v Fettes College

Morrison’s Academy v Kelvinside Academy

Newcastle-Under-Lyme v Bablake

Norwich v Wymondham College

Nottingham HS v Bedford Modern

Princethorpe College v Loughborough GS

Reading Blue Coat v St George’s College, Weybridge

Rendcomb College v St Edward’s, Cheltenham

RGS Worcester v KES Stratford

Rydal Penrhos v Shrewsbury

Shebbear College v Queen’s College, Taunton

Solihull v RGS High Wycombe

Stewart’s Melville v Glasgow Academy

St Albans v Stamford

St Aloysius’ College v Glenalmond College

St Ambrose College v Merchant Taylors’

St Benedict’s v UCS

St Edward’s, Oxford v The Oratory

St George’s Harpenden v Haberdashers’

St John’s, Leatherhead v KCS Wimbledon

St Joseph’s College v Gresham’s

St Peter’s, Gloucester v Kirkham GS

Tiffin v Coham International

Trinity v London Oratory

Wellingborough v King Henry VIII, Coventry

West Buckland v Wellington School

Wilmslow HS v Calday Grange GS

Wisbech GS v Culford

 

Tom Burrow Cup: 

Silcoates, Yarm, Austin Friars, Altrincham Grammar, & Newcastle School for Boys.

Article by: http://www.fifteenrugby.com

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