After an action packed two months of under 16’s rugby, the Floodlit Cup entered its winter break last week, leaving the tournament at the semi-final stage.
The northern schools rugby tournament, hosted by Preston Grasshoppers and sponsored by UCLan, is one of the biggest of its kind in the country. The Floodlit Cup first took place in 1989, hosted by Liverpool St Helens. This remained the case for 16 years until Grasshoppers took over as hosts six years ago. Kits and match balls for this year’s competition have been by provided by Canterbury, a New Zealand-based sports apparel company.
Current holders St Peter’s have looked impressive on their way to the semi-finals, and remain on track to defend their title. Inspired by Canterbury player of the month for October Dylan George, the Yorkshire based side have reached the semis after dominant 60-10 and 39-0 victories over 2005 winners St Edward’s and Bradford Grammar School respectively, the latter including a superb solo hat trick from Patrick Brown.
Woodhouse Grove stand in St Peter’s way of reaching successive finals and will have to be more challenging opponents if they are to stop them retaining their crown. Woodhouse, who entered the tournament for the first time this season, reached the last four by defeating three time champions Lancaster RGS 31-5 in the first round, and 2008 winners Hutton Grammar School 22-7 in the quarter-finals.
Macclesfield based Kings School, champions in 1998, and 2000 winners Manchester Grammar School will be hoping to reach the semi-finals as they both look to win the trophy for a second time.
Kings reached the quarter finals by defeating three times winners St Ambrose 15-13 and 1999 champions Arnold 22-3. They will have to beat Wirral Grammar School, who have Canterbury’s September player of the month Ben Brooks amongst their ranks, if they are to reach the final four. Wirral themselves beat three time champions Stonyhurst 45-5 in the preliminary round and Bramhall High School 38-0 to reach the quarters.
Meanwhile Manchester defeated two time champions Merchant Taylors 20-7 as they reached the final eight. There they will face RGS Newcastle, who won 27-12 against Kirkham Grammar School in the first round.
The Floodlit Cup will resume, weather permitting, on January 11th, when the two remaining quarter-finals will take place. The semi-finals will commence two weeks afterwards, before the final itself kicks off on 1st February.
By Theo Squires, a journalism student at UCLAN.