2018 delivered a lot of surprises but not a lot changed in the world of junior rugby. The news that rocked schoolboy rugby worldwide was the boycott of St Kentigern College in the 2019 season due to their scouting policies. This is however not an isolated incident and it seems that 2019 may also provide similar reactions worldwide.
The World u/20 Championship was hosted by France and they manage to win this tournament against all odds, beating England 33-25 to be crowned World Rugby u/20 Champions for the first time in this tournament's 11 year history. South Africa also surprised in beating favourites New Zealand 40-30 in the 3rd place playoff.
Fiji secured their place in the 2019 tournament when they defeated Samoa 58-8 in a one-sided final. They will replace Japan who ended last in the 2018 tournament.
The 2019 tournament will be hosted by Argentina. Argentina hosted the event in 2010 and Rosario and Santa Fe will once again host the future stars of rugby.
France was crowned 2018 u/20 Six Nations champions after sharing the top spot with 2017 champions England. Both teams had 20 log points with France claiming the title due to a better point differential. England won the match against France with 22-6 in the 4th round.
During the u/18 International Series hosted by South Africa, France who toured with an u/20 development team remained unbeaten throughout this tournament against Wales, England and South Africa's u/18 teams. South Africa only lost against the French in a much-improved effort if compared to their dismal performance in 2017.
The New Zealand u/18 Schools side once again remained unbeaten during their 2018 season beating Tonga, Australia and an Australian Barbarian side during the 2018 u/18 South Pacific Championship hosted by Australia.
Australia ended their 2018 season with a tour to the UK. In a five-match tour, their only loss came against Ulster in the 2nd match of the tour. The defeated Munster, Ireland, Scotland and a Scotland Invitation side.
The World Schools Festival was launched as part of Paarl Boishaai of South Africa's 150th birthday festivities. The South African schools dominated this event as expected with some shortcomings exposed. But a decent start to what could become a great tournament.
New Zealand Schoolboy Rugby.
Hamilton Boys High ended in 2018 as the number 1 ranked school in New Zealand followed by Napier Boys High in 2nd place. St Peter's College ended 3rd but won the Barbarians Cup with 31-28 against Napier Boys High, after overturning a 21-0 deficit to Napier Boys’ High School.
In the co-ed final, St Peter’s of Cambridge defended its 2017 title but had to work hard to subdue a committed and tenacious Rangiora HS 33-26 in the final.
South African Schoolboy Rugby
With no official competition to crown a winner South Africa is stuck with several ranking systems to crown a champion.
Grey College, Glenwood High School and Paul Roos was the pick of the season with Grey College and Glenwood who remained unbeaten with their fixture ending in a 25 all draw.
Monnas was crowned as the VirSeker 2018 Cup champions after a somewhat erratic to their season, winning only 16 from their 24 matches. However, during the final against Helpmekaar Monnas showed their class winning 57-11.
Monnas only finishing number 6 on the Ruggas.co.za ranking behind #1 Grey College, #2 Paul Roos, #3 Paarl Gim, #4 Glenwood and at #5 Paarl Boishaai.
United Kingdom Schoolboy Rugby
The United Kingdom schoolboy rugby challenged the Ruggas.co.za ranking system to such an extent that we are still crunching numbers. Several changes had to be made to provide a "fair" ranking but hopefully, this will ensure a better ranking system for 2019.
Sedbergh is proving an unstoppable force in the SOCS Daily Mail Schools Trophy. It leaves Sedbergh unbeaten in 36 games in all competitions since they were toppled by Lancashire rivals Kirkham in November 2016. Since then they have put together two unbeaten campaigns in the Trophy, the national merit table competition sponsored by SOCS, the schools' management system, and a tour of New Zealand.
Hartpury College continued to dominate the AASE league although struggling a bit during the early exchanges in this competition. Hartpury, being underdogs won 26-20 against Beechen Cliff to claimed their 9th title in 10 years.
Wellington College became the 5th side to lift the Champions Trophy as after defeating Epson College 24-16 in one of the tightest finals there has been.
The school's season has come to an end apart from semi-finals and finals still to be played early in 2019, in the u/18 Schools Plate and Bowl competitions