Are South African schools still the best?
SPOTLIGHT: The World Schools Festival returns in 2022, with the best schools in the world will be taking each other on.
Could this signal a seismic shift in the world’s view of school rugby?
The World Schools Festival will take place from December 11 to 18 this year, with eight of the top rugby schools from across the world invited to take part.
There are only eight invitational places available in the main cup competition, and it is known that the best of the best in terms of rugby schools are taking part.
The Pattana Sports Resort, in Thailand, will host the 2022 edition of the World Schools Festival. Set on over a thousand acres of land and just a short distance from Bangkok airport, the venue boasts numerous world-class facilities. This will serve as the hub for the world class competition.
In the past, the festival has served as a key barometer on who the best rugby team in the world is. The 2019 edition of the tournament helped to further elevate the status of South African schools, with Grey College recording dominant wins over Christchurch Boys.
The 2022 World Schools Festival will undoubtedly feature some of the rugby schools from New Zealand and South Africa. So the question is, which teams will be invited this year?
There is a plethora of English rugby schools that could be invited to the World School Festival this December. Millfield, Sedbergh, Wellington and Harrow appear to be the clear choices. Millfield school completed a sensational unbeaten season in 2021, beating their main rivals Sedbergh in a titanic final game of the season.
Many claims that Millfield is now the strongest school in England after their impressive season, so a World Schools Festival debut would make sense for the team in red, green and blue.
NextGenXV has also recently ranked the Somerset-based school as number one in their world rankings, adding yet another layer of prestige to the school.
Sedbergh now looks to be one of the favourites to win The Schools Championship, a new schools rugby competition in England, after a convincing opening win over Whitgift. Could the men in brown be making the visit to Thailand to take on the best teams in the world?
Clifton College recently announced themselves as top contenders after their surprise win over Millfield. It would be no surprise to see a school of that calibre at an event this big.
The Emerald Isles boast some of the best schoolboy rugby sides in the world. Blackrock, St Michael’s College and Presentation Brothers are just some of the schools that spring to mind when you think of the calibre on show.
With Blackrock scheduled to take on Sedbergh in October, it proves to be a real opportunity for both these sides to show who is the best in this part of the world.
Blackrock College claimed the 70th Leinster Senior Schools title in April of this year, cementing their status as one of the top rugby schools in Ireland.
In recent years, St Michael’s College has proved itself as one of the top sides in the game. With NextGenXV ranking them at 14th in the world in 2022, it’s possible we may see this team in Thailand in December.
New Zealand school’s rugby has always been linked to the World Schools Festival. We can be certain to see some of the best rugby teams in the world take part in the event this time around.
Recently crowned Champions of 1st XV Rugby, Hamilton Boys have been highly linked to having some sort of involvement in the festival this year. Hamilton narrowly beat top team Napier Boys in the final of Super 8 last week. To have both of these sides take on the best of the best from around the world, would be a true privilege to watch.
Kelston Boys from Auckland have benefited greatly from some of their superstar players this season. Talents such as Xavier Tito-Harris would steal the show at the World Schools Festival if they were to be involved.
Other New Zealand rugby schools such as Rotorua Boys’ High are also having a great season, after their hugely impressive win over Hastings earlier in the season.
There has been plenty of talk about some of the top rugby schools in Australia being invited to the World Schools Festival in 2022. With so many top schools to consider, and only eight spots in the main competition available, it shows us just how high the standard will be.
Nudgee College is one of the clear choices to be invited to the event, with their profile as high as ever after their unbeaten season in 2021.
Barker College from New South Wales is the team on everyone’s lips after their impressive 25-0 win over Nudgee this month. It would feel right for a school in such great form to take part in a festival this big. Ranked second in the world this year by NextGenXV, any rugby fan would be desperate to see this side involved in some form or another.
Joey’s is another school that nobody would be surprised to see involved in. Joey’s is arguably the leading rugby program historically in Australia and with over 100 Under 18 internationals produced, it shows why.
Their dominance in competition is hardly a surprise to many with another 100 per cent record securing maximum points and having an average points difference of 11 showcases their results against extremely strong opponents.
There are so many schools from South Africa that could be invited to The World Schools Festival this year; Grey College, Paul Roos, Paarl Gim, Paarl Boys – the list is endless.
The narrative has remained that South African schools rugby is the best in the world since the nation’s strong showing in the 2019 edition of the festival. Buzz about the exploits of the likes of Jurenzo Julius has been ever-increasing this season.
Any of the potential schools that will be invited from the rainbow nation will surely play a key role in the outcome of the festival.
With only eight places available in the cup of this festival, it’s going to be difficult for many schools to secure an invite to this prestigious festival.
One thing is for sure, however. The winner can call themselves the best rugby school in the world.