Berkhamsted, Bromsgrove, and Grammar School at Leeds today joined RGS Guildford and Stowe as first round winners in the 2017 Champions Trophy.
RGS Guildford hosted Caterham and Stowe were the hosts for St Albans in the opening games of the round last week. Both games were similar, with strong first halves for the host. RGS Guildford eventually went on to complete a brilliant 38-0 win over Caterham, which for can read about here – RGS first through in the Champions Trophy, while Stowe were 47-17 victors against St Albans in an interesting game. Stowe scored thirty-five unanswered points in the first half, but St Albans showed great resilience to bounce back and ‘win’ the second half.
On Tuesday this week, they were joined by Berkhamsted, Bromsgrove, and Grammar School at Leeds. Grammar School at Leeds were at home to last year’s semi-finalists, Oakham. They produced the sort of result that helped them towards the 2014 final against Millfield though, securing an excellent 38-24 victory to go storming into the second round.
Berkhamsted was knocked out by Grammar School at Leeds’ opponents last year. They began their campaign away to Radley College on Tuesday and came away with an outstanding 32-17 victory. They dug deep for it, leading just 15-12 at halftime before running in three second-half tries to secure a commanding win.
For Bromsgrove this first round was huge, this is their first year in the Champions Trophy, having moved from the Schools Cup, where they were the winners in 2015 and 2016 and reached last year’s semi-final. That moves looks to have been worthwhile as they secured a quite brilliant 34-5 victory over Monmouth. They were in stunning form, especially in the first half, where they flew out to a 27-0 lead before Monmouth tightened the ropes in the second half.
Unfortunately, St John’s Leatherhead v King’s Canterbury had to be postponed and there is no scheduled date yet for that rearranged game.
In all though that makes 11 sides through to the second round with the only three teams to have won the Champions Trophy, Millfield (2014), Bedford (2015), and Tonbridge (2016), all receiving byes, along 2015 finalists Epsom College, the prestigious Eton College, and schools rugby superstars, Wellington College, with a further five to follow following the rest of the week’s games, previews of which you can see below, and the winner of St John’s v King’s Canterbury.
Champions Trophy Round 1 Previews:
Bryanston v Bristol Grammar School (Thursday)
Another fascinating tie. Bryanston has been below their best for a couple of years but have started this season with some decent performances, even if the results have not all gone their way – although a tough defeat on Saturday will have stung. A good Champions Trophy run would be a huge extra boost for them. Standing in their way though are a Bristol Grammar School side with a cracking record over the last couple of years, and last year they boasted a couple of England internationals. They will fancy their chances of a good run, but like Bryanston are coming off the back of a tough loss.
Dulwich College v St Paul’s (Wednesday)
Having moved across from the Schools Cup to the Champions Trophy in 2015, after winning three Schools Cups in a row and reaching the final of the next, Dulwich is yet to experience success in the Champions Trophy. After a strong start to this season though, they might fancy their chances this year. St Paul’s will be a massive threat though, last year they came very close to knocking Bedford, the reigning champions and eventual finalists, out, and they have the ability to go further again this year.
Marlborough College v Kingswood (Wednesday)
Marlborough College is this year under the tutelage of Terry Gilmour, the man who took Bishop Wordsworth’s to the U18 Schools Cup final last year, so you would expect his experience from that to be a benefit to them. Kingswood look good though this year, they have a couple of big wins under their belt and will be full of confidence. Marlborough may have two losses from two, but they were tight games against strong opposition, so do not read too much into those results.
Radley College v Berkhamsted (Tuesday)
Inform Berkhamsted make the trip to Radley College for this opening round game, Berkhamsted were unlucky to get pitted against Oakham so early last year or they may have gone far. They will be keen for a good run this year. So too Radley College, who this year are under a new coaching regime, led by former Gloucester prop, Nick Wood. At their impressive home ground, they will want to make their mark on the national stage and we should be in for an exciting game.
Sherborne v Blundell’s (Wednesday)
Both of these sides have provided memorable Champions Trophy performances over the last few years. Until an injury crisis and defeat to eventual champions Bedford in 2015, Sherborne was arguably the form team in the tournament, and in the same year, Blundell’s went all the way to the semi-finals, just losing out in a thriller against Epsom College. That all points towards a brilliant game next week between two sides that have really epitomised what this tournament is all about.
St John’s Leatherhead v King’s Canterbury (Postponed)
St John’s were one of the form sides in last year’s tournament, eventually being knocked out by Epsom College in an enthralling game at the quarter-final stage. They will be desperate to go even further this year, has promised a lot for a couple of years now. King’s Canterbury will be no pushovers though, their season has started with a win and a loss and they will have a decent amount of confidence heading into this one.
Champions Trophy Round 1 Info:
Bromsgrove 34-5 Monmouth
Grammar School at Leeds 38-24 Oakham
Radley College 17-32 Berkhamsted
RGS Guildford 38-0 Caterham
Stowe 47-17 St Albans
Bryanston v Bristol Grammar School (Thursday 28th Sept, 4.30pm)
Dulwich College v St Paul’s (Wednesday 27th Sept, 2.45pm)
Marlborough College v Kingswood (Wednesday 27th Sept, 2.30pm)
Sherborne v Blundell’s (Wednesday 27th Sept, KO TBA)
St John’s Leatherhead v King’s Canterbury – Postponed
Bedford, Epsom College, Eton College, Millfield, Tonbridge, Wellington College.
Round 2 – w/c 9th October
Quarter Finals – w/c 6th November
Semi-Finals – w/c 20th November
Final – Wednesday 6th December