- Two-time champions Dulwich back in the U18 Cup knockout stages
- U15 and U18 quarter-finals taking place w/c February 10
Photo: RFU Archive
As the quarter-finals stage of the NatWest Schools Cup competition is reached this week, expectations will be high among the teams from London and the South East, the region which has produced the winners of the Cup for the past four seasons at U18 level.
Whitgift School and Dulwich College have both enjoyed Twickenham success in the past, with two-time winners Dulwich reaching the quarter-final stage again this season.
They are accompanied by Hampton School who qualify from the London & South East A, which has arguably been the toughest regional draw in the country. Having beaten Campion School 11-0 in the previous round, Hampton once again face South West opposition in the quarters, this time in the shape of RGS High Wycombe.
Hampton Director of Rugby, Zoran Higgins, said: “The NatWest Cup has presented us with an unbelievably tough draw and it has been an achievement to have beaten so many of the top sides in the country. Every game has felt like a final and we have only just won our region.
“We now face RGS High Wycombe, away. They are a fantastic schoolboy side, big, physical and extremely well coached. Both their Lower and Upper Sixth have played in U15 Cup finals, winning one of these, so I suspect they are really looking to win the U18 competition this year.”
Dulwich College have gone about their business quietly this season and have proven time and again they are still a very hard side to beat.
Director of Rugby at Dulwich College Sam Howard is under no illusions of how difficult a task it will be travelling to Lymm for their quarter-final: “They will be a very tough side, their 9 and 10 are very good, as is their defence, but if we can get our systems and our game right then I think we should be ok.”
At under 15 level, Croydon schools are making the headlines with Whitgift and Trinity School going through. Trinity School have enjoyed an impressive run in the NatWest Schools Cup competition already, having defeated a number of top sides including one of the pre-tournament favourites, Reigate Grammar School.
Director of Rugby Aaron Liffchak has been quick to praise the character of his Trinity team: “The boys have a fantastic attitude which is undoubtedly the reason for their success. They aren’t looking past the quarter-finals and are very focused on their performance. They have done it the hard way and have come through some very tough fixtures against top class opposition.”
Meanwhile, Whitgift School have been in irresistible form to date, a powerful 28-10 victory over New Hall School in the last 16 has seen them through, and they now travel to Trent College.
In the under 18 NatWest Cup Vase competition, Worth School will face South West side Exeter College at Allianz Park. The Saracens ground is becoming a home away from home for the Sussex School, having defeated St Olave’s 12-10 there in the previous round.
Director of Rugby Rob Outen believes that fixture will stand his players in good stead: “It’s a good experience playing at different venues as the boys have to get used to the occasion of playing on a bigger stage.
“We like to play some attractive rugby and our game plan suits the Cup competition. Exeter are a tough side and Devon is a hot bed for rugby, so we are probably going into the game as underdogs but we feel we can get a result.”
Worth will be joined by NatWest Vase specialists Ravens Wood in the quarter-finals. The Bromley based school were finalists two seasons ago and are aiming for a return to Twickenham.
An impressive 33-15 victory over Tiffin School in the last round further highlights their title credentials, and Ravens Wood will be hoping their trip along the M4 to Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital School, Bristol, is an enjoyable one.
Graveney School’s fairytale run in the Vase at Under 15 continues as they host South West qualifiers Clevedon School in their quarter-final match. The Tooting based school narrowly missed out in the Cup to Whitgift, and have since gone on to establish themselves as Vase contenders.
St George’s, Weybridge join Graveney in the Vase quarter-finals. The former school of current England EPS squad member Anthony Watson can count themselves unlucky not to be competing in the Cup.
A narrow 12-16 defeat to Trinity School early on saw them drop down into the Vase, where they have swept all before them. A 31-0 victory over Hurstpierpoint College in the previous round has made them one of the favorites for the title and they are aiming to continue their run against Reading School in the quarter-finals.
The U15 and U18 NatWest Schools Cup Show Your School's Colours competition was an online fan vote with schools vying to have their quarter-finals matches streamed live on rfu.com. There was a fantastic response and the winners were: U15s – St George’s School Weybridge (803 votes) v Reading School; U18s – Durham School (766 votes) v Adams Grammar School.
You can watch both matches live on rfu.com on Wednesday, February 12.
U18 Cup fixtures – February 12
Durham School v Adams Grammar School, 2pm (streamed live on rfu.com)
Lymm High School v Dulwich College, 2.15pm
Stowe School v Warwick School, 2.30pm
RGS High Wycombe v Hampton, 2.30pm (or 12pm if at Maidenhead 3G)
U18 Vase fixtures
Wilmslow High School v Wirral Grammar School, February 12, 4pm (Burnage Rugby Club)
QEH Bristol v Ravens Wood School, February 13, 2.30pm
Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School v Trent College, February 14, 2.30pm
Worth School v Exeter College, February 11, 2pm (Allianz Park)
U15 Cup fixtures
RGS High Wycombe v Wellington College, February 11, 12pm (Maidenhead 3G)
QEGS Wakefield v Trinity School, February 13, ko and venue tbc
Trent College v Whitgift School, February 13, 2.30pm
Result: Langley School 5 Warwick School 33 (played February 7)
U15 Vase fixtures – February 12
St George’s College, Weybridge v Reading School, 2.30pm (streamed live on rfu.com)
U15 Vase fixtures – February 13
Lymm High School v Loughborough Grammar School, 2pm
Graveney School v Clevedon School, 2.30pm (Old Rutlishians)
Altringham Grammar School v Stowe School, 2.30pm
For more information about the competition, go to: www.rfu.com/natwestschoolscup, www.facebook.com/natwestrugby and twitter.com/SchoolsCup