World champs' Ipswich date

RUGBY stars of the future will be coming to Ipswich next weekend for the 18th St Joseph's College National Schools' Festival.And they will be joined by England World Cup heroes Ben Cohen and Steve Thompson.

RUGBY stars of the future will be coming to Ipswich next weekend for the 18th St Joseph's College National Schools' Festival.

And they will be joined by England World Cup heroes Ben Cohen and Steve Thompson.

The annual event has become one of the most prestigious in the rugby union calendar and many top players, including Matt Dawson who was also in England's World Cup winning side, have played in the tournament.

The festival attracts international selectors and club scouts wanting to see how teenagers perform in real games and under the pressure of a tournament.

Colston's Collegiate from Bristol are again the team to beat and have an impressive record having won six of the last ten competitions.

Colston's are in the same group as St Joseph's who will be looking to win the tournament for the second time with their only success to date coming in 1995.

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The West Suffolk College, based in Bury St Edmunds, have entered a team and have to play twice-winners Millfield School from Somerset in one of their group matches.

Other strong challenges are expected to come from Devon's Ivybridge Community College who lost 15-3 to Colston's in last year's final and Gloucestershire side St Peter's High School who reached the semi-finals in 2003.

The event - sponsored by BT - features 16 teams from England, Wales and Scotland with four sides in each of the four groups.

Teams that finish in the top two in their league go on to compete for the De La Salle Trophy with those finishing third and fourth in their section entering the Plate Competition.

The player of the tournament will receive the Nick Duncombe Memorial Trophy, named after the former England international who died last year aged only 21.

Duncombe, a scrum half who represented his country twice, had been voted the best player in the 1999 event while playing for RGS High Wycombe.

There is also an award for try of the tournament and the prizes will be presented by winger Cohen and hooker Thompson, who both played for England against Australia in the World Cup final last year.

The first matches in the two-day event start at 9am on Saturday with the finals held the following afternoon.

Teams: St Joseph's College (Ipswich), St Paul's School (west London), Colston's Collegiate (Bristol), Ystol Glantaf (Cardiff), Millfield School (Somerset), Brighton College (Sussex), St Peter's High School (Gloucester), West Suffolk College (Bury St Edmunds), Ivybridge Community College (Devon), Campion School (Hornchurch, Essex), Dulwich College (south east London), Wymondham College (Norfolk), Filton College (Bristol), Royal Grammar School (Buckinghamshire), Queen Elizabeth Grammar School (Wakefield) and Merchiston Castle School (Edinburgh).

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