The U18 Schools Cup officially kicks off this week, though there were a couple of fixtures last week.
It is a relatively thin competition in terms of number this year, but quality wise it is extremely high, and with those of those two facts put together, it means we are in for some bumper first round ties, such as Woodhouse Grove v St Peter’s York, Uppingham v Stamford, and New Hall v Felsted.
With NatWest dropping their sponsorship, the competition is now known as the U18 Schools Cup, with teams that lost their first-round games moving to the U18 Schools Plate, and with the quality of sides that are meeting each other in the first round this year, we can expect a high-quality Plate too.
U18 Schools Cup Round 1 & 2 Draws & Confirmed Fixtures:
All of the action takes place on Wednesday in North A, with Merchant Taylors’, Calday Grange, and Wilmslow High School already through. Keep an eye on Wilmslow going forward, they always go deep. As for those in action on Wednesday, King’s Macclefield v St Ambrose College could be the pick of the bunch, with the winner at home to Calday next round.
Barnard Castle v Carmel College is already confirmed as a second round fixture, while RGS Newcastle, Hartlepool 6th form, and Hymers College are all also in the second round. All three of the first round games are on Wednesday, with Woodhouse Grove v St Peter’s York the pick of the round. They met a couple of weeks ago and St Peter’s won that, but expect a close game, the winners go to Hymers. Hartlepool faces the winners of St John Fisher and QEGS Wakefield, who we expect to go far this year, and RGS could line up against Durham again if they beat Dame Allan’s.
In Midlands, A Royal Hospital School are already through and will face the winner of Wednesday’s clash between Oundle and Bourne Grammar. The pick of the section though is the first Tuesday game of the competition, Uppingham v Stamford. These two are local rivals so it will be a huge game, and with a second-round bye on offer for the winner, the prize is big. The remaining games all take place on Wednesday, with Norwich v Gresham’s at the top of the draw one to keep an eye on.
Solihull has already sealed their 3rd round spot courtesy of a 42-12 first round win over KES Birmingham last week and a second-round bye. The winners of two of Wednesday’s games KES Five Ways v RGS Worcester and Newcastle-Under-Lyme v QEGS Ashbourne will join them in the third round as both winners will have second-round byes. There is no such luck for the defending champions, Warwick. They kick off on Wednesday against KES Camp Hill, and a win there would mean a second-round tie against either Sandbach or Wrekin College.
London & South East A sees action on Tuesday between New Hall and Felsted, a harsh first round tie. It also has one side already through, KCS Wimbledon after their 12-5 win at UCS last week. They meet the winners of Wednesday’s game between Whitgift and Langley Park. It is a section high on Cup pedigree, with Hampton and St Benedict’s also lining up on Wednesday, against Salesian and Emanuel.
London & South East B will not finish up until late as Judd v Sir Joseph Williamson’s is not scheduled until the 4th October. The standout tie is probably Wednesday’s trip to Trinity for Eltham College, while Christ’s Hospital v Skinners’ is also a tough first round tie. John Fisher host Howard of Effingham on Wednesday, the same day as the remaining fixtures in this section.
Everyone that plays in South West A this Wednesday will know what awaits them in Round 2. Last year’s finalists, Bishop Wordsworth’s, host St Bartholomew’s in round one, and then face a trip to Abingdon in round 2, a tough reward for their runners-up spot last year. RGS High Wycombe v Pangbourne College is a fierce first round tie, and it gets fiercer in the second round, with Sir Thomas Rich’s lying in wait. Things are easier for the winners of Portsmouth Grammar v KES Bath and Dean Close v St Peter’s Gloucester, they have byes to the third round.
Things are relatively similar in South West B. The winners of the two Tuesday fixtures, Canford v Clayesmore and Colston’s v Downside, head straight to the third round thanks to byes – keep an eye on Canford, by the way. It is a different story for the winners of Truro v Richard Huish, they must host Ivybridge next round. The other two games both take place on Wednesday, Plymouth College v Exeter and King’s College Taunton v Weston College, with the winners facing off next round.