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Barnard Castle focus on Under 15 challenge

Having been at the sharp end of the Daily Mail Schools Under18 Cup for a year or two, Barnard Castle coach Martin Pepper is looking ahead to a season where the pressure will not be quite so intense, though no sooner has he spoken of a rebuilding process, he is extolling the virtues of a very tasty bunch of Under 15s who will be stepping up to the plate next week.

In recent times, ‘Barnie’ have had the likes of Calum Clark and Rory Clegg to provide the inspiration, with fellow England internationals Alex Gray and Tom Catterick to ensure that the thread of real quality continues into another campaign.

Any school with a record which has produced 20 international players in the past decade can never be written off, even in a season of rebuilding, and it will be interesting to see what new names from the current squad are written alongside the likes of Lee Dickson and Matthew Tait in the years to come.

That said, the Daily Mail Under 18 Cup is a very challenging environment, especially when the cream of English Schools rugby rises to the top in the later stages, and Pepper’s assertion that he does not expect his team to be still in the hunt after Christmas has a touch of pragmatism to it.

“I don’t think we’ll be featuring in the later stages of the Daily Mail this season,” he says: “We’ve started with three wins, which I suppose is good for what is a young team. We have five of the starting line-up in the semi-finals last season still involved, with prop Chris Bark and Alex Gray the only forwards still involved. Let’s say there’s no great pressure this season for the Under 18s and we’ll see how it unfolds.”

While Pepper is low-key about the chances of the senior squad, he is more enthusiastic about the Under 15 challenge.

“We’ve a very good Under 15s this year and in Daily Mail terms, their chances are more positive. They’ve won all their games so far, including a win over RGS Newcastle, which we felt would be a good marker as to how useful our lads were. We’re hopeful that they’ll have a good run and they definitely have some very good players, but just how good it’s hard to measure. We are picking from only 42 boys in the year group, so when you come up against team who have 140 to choose from, you’re on a sticky wicket to start with. But we’ll be giving it a go.”

Daily Mail Under 15 Cup, North Round One (due to be played by September 17): Birkdale High v Cowley Language College, St Mary's College, Crosby v Liverpool College, St Edwards College, Liverpool 0 Wade Deacon High 44, Bolton w/o Ormskirk, Bramhall High 17 Stockport Grammar 19, Malbank 10 Wilmslow High 56, King James's, Knaresborough 50 Horsforth 15, Harrogate Grammar v Ilkley Grammar, Haydon Bridge High 0 Ponteland High 53, St Bede's Catholic School & 6th Form College v Queen Elizabeth High, Hexham, Whitley Bay High 48 Monkseaton High 19, King Edward VI, Morpeth v St Cuthberts RC High, Dame Allan’s w/o Whickham School and Sports College, Egglescliffe Comprehensive v Carmel RC School, Bridgewater County High v St Nicholas RC High, King's, Macclesfield w/o Sale Grammar.

Daily Mail Under 15 Cup, North Round Two (ties due to be played by October 1): Monks Dyke Tech College v De Aston School, Lincoln Minster School v Worksop College, Tollbar BEC v Hull Collegiate School, TLS Community Arts College v Hymers College, Wolfreton School v South Hunsley School, Hayfield Comprehensive School v Trinity Academy, Swinton Community School bye, Wickersley School & Sports College v Armthorpe Comprehensive School, Birkdale/Cowley v Stonyhurst College, St Mary’s Crosby/Liverpool College v Kirkham Grammar School, Wade Deacon v Hutton Grammar School, Bolton School bye, Stockport Grammar School bye, Malbank School 10 Wilmslow High School 56, Bishop Heber County High School v Calday Grange Grammar School, Ambrose College 36 Cheadle Hulme School 0, King James School, Knaresborough bye, Ermysteds Grammar School v Harrogate Grammar/Ilkley Grammar, Guiseley Comprehensive School v Prince Henry's Grammar School, Otley, Woodhouse Grove School v Ashville College, Roundhay School v Bingley Grammar School, Grangefield Comprehensive School 22 Sherburn High 12, Outwood Grange College v Bradford Grammar School, King's, Pontefract 0 Leeds Grammar 52, English Martyrs School v Durham School, Emmanuel College v Dyke House School, Graham Comprehensive School v Scarborough College, Macmillan Academy v Yarm School, St Thomas More Catholic College v Ponteland High, Gosforth High School 0 RGS, Newcastle 34, Astley High School v Duchess High School, St Bedes School & Sixth Form Lancaster v Queen Elizabeth’s High School, Hexham, Whitley Bay High v The King’s School, Tynemouth, King Edward VI, Morpeth v St Cuthbert’s High School, Newcastle, Dame Allan’s bye, Egglescliffe/Carmel RC College v Barnard Castle School, Ian Ramsey C Of E School v Richmond School, Ripon Grammar School v Northallerton College, Bedale High School v Stokesley School, Easingwold College v Queen Ethelburga's College, Marple Hall School v Glossopdale Community College, West Hill High School v Audenshaw School, Hipperholme & Lightcliffe High School v Crossley Heath School, Mirfield Free Grammar v Rishworth School, Tadcaster Grammar School v Castleford High School & Technology SC, Driffield School v St Peters School, York, Meadowhead School v QEGS, Wakefield, Mount St Marys College v Birkdale School, Lytham St Annes Technology College v Arnold School, King Edward VII & Queen Mary School, Lancaster Royal Grammar School v Kirkbie Kendal School, Giggleswick School v Queen Elizabeth School, Kirkby Lonsdale v Queen Katherine School, Whitehaven School v St Bees, Cumbria, Stainburn School and Science College v Cockermouth School, Trinity, Carlisle v Nelson Thomlinson School, Keswick School v Ullswater Community College, Bridgewater High/St Nicholas, Northwich v Manchester Grammar School, Kings School Macclesfield v Sale Grammar School, Hartford High School v Rydal Penrhos School, Weaverham High School v Birkenhead School, Sandbach School v Lymm High School, Fallibroome High School v Altrincham Grammar School, St Anselm’s School v Wirral Grammar School, Merchant Taylor's School v Cardinal Heenan High School.

Daily Mail Under 18 Cup, North Round One (ties due to be played by October 1): Stockport Grammar School v Lymm High School, Rydal Penrhos School v Liverpool College, Wilmslow High School bye, Audenshaw School v Bury Grammar School, Bury College v Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, Hutton Grammar School w/o Lytham St Annes College, Runshaw College v Lancaster Royal Grammar School, Giggleswick School v Queen Elizabeth’s, Kirkby Lonsdale, Arnold School v Baines School, Blackpool Sixth Form College 0 Myerscough College 50, King Edward VI School, Morpeth v Winstanley College, Holy Cross 6th Form College 0 Stonyhurst College 62, Merchant Taylor's School v Ormskirk School, Bolton School v St John Rigby College, Manchester GS w/o Oldham Hulme GS, Cowley Language College v Range High School, Benton Park School v Crossley Heath School, Ilkley School v Ermysteds Grammar School, Guiseley Comprehensive School v Horsforth School, Bradford Grammar School bye, Dame Allan's Boys School v Gateshead College, Macmillan Academy v Hartlepool Sixth Form College, St Thomas More Catholic School v Tyne Metropolitan College, Queen Elizabeth’s, Hexham bye, Outwood Grange College v Mirfield Free Grammar, Rishworth School 33 Birkdale 14, St Mary's R C Comprehensive School v Thomas Rotherham College, Hipperholme & Lightcliffe High School v Woodhouse Grove School, QEGS, Wakefield bye, Tadcaster Grammar School v Roundhay School, Yarm School bye, QE 6th Form College, Darlington bye, Duchess High School v King Edward VI School, Morpeth, Whitley Bay w/o Ponteland High School, Emmanuel College v St Bede's 6th Form College, Gosforth High 13 RGS, Newcastle 34, Monkseaton High School v The Kings School, Tynemouth, Haydon Bridge High School w/o Whickham Sports College, Durham School v Wolsingham School, Northallerton College v Carmel RC School, St Benedict R C School v St Bees, Cumbria, Keswick 47 Cockermouth 5, Austin Friars School v Workington 6th Form Centre, Whitehaven School v Trinity School, Carlisle, Barnard Castle School bye, Richmond School v Egglescliffe Comprehensive School, Kirkbie Kendal School 5 Ullswater CC 43, QEGS, Penrith bye, Driffield School v South Hunsley School, Hymers College w/o Wolfreton School, Hull Collegiate School v Scarborough College, St Peters School, York bye, Ripon Grammar School v Queen Ethelburgas College, King James's, Knaresborough v Harrogate Grammar School, St John Fisher R C School v Leeds Grammar School, Prince Henry's Grammar School v Ashville College, King William's College, IOM bye, St Anselm's College v Wirral Grammar School, Bishop Heber High School v Calday Grange Grammar School, Birkenhead School v St Edward's College, St Ambrose College 29 Sir John Deane's College 0, Sandbach School v St Nicholas R C High School, Bridgewater High School v Sale Grammar School, Altrincham Grammar School v Cheadle Hulme School.

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