ormer pupils Paul Sackey and George Skivington have been following John Fisher's progress as the Purley school reached the quarter-finals of the Daily Mail Schools Under 18 Cup for the first time in four years, writes Hugh Godwin.

London Wasps pair Sackey and Skivington - currently in the England and England Saxons squads respectively - were back at their old school earlier this season to keep an eye on the 1st XV.

Second-row forward Skivington, who played in the Saxons' 66-0 defeat of Portugal last week and will be the captain against Ireland A on February 6, watched John Fisher in the Esher schools festival and took charge of a line-out session when the boys had a pre-season training camp at St Mary's College.

"Paul Sackey has come along a couple of times to see the boys, and they always enjoy meeting him," said Matt Gold, the John Fisher head coach. "Both he and George are always ready to give words of advice and I know they look out for our results."

This is the first round when an open, national draw is made and John Fisher, which became a specialist sports college in 2004, will travel to Northampton to meet Moulton College who have never been in the last eight of the Daily Mail U18 Cup before.

John Fisher have already knocked out Caterham (17-14 away), Wimbledon College (36-3 at home) and Langley Park School for Boys (12-10 away). Perhaps most impressively, they defeated Worthing College in the last regional round, scoring five tries in a 33-7 victory in Sussex.

John Fisher centre Ben Axten-Burrett is in the England Under 16 development squad meeting at Cokethorpe School for training this weekend (February 6-8). And Gold said Axten-Burrett's progress had prompted a departure from rugby policy.

"We don't normally play Under 16 players in the first team," said Gold, "but we thought Ben had to go up to the best for his development and he has made a big difference to the team, adding defensive steel and a good boot."

Hooker Jordan Saunders captained Surrey U18s a year young last season and scrum half Jack Walsh is attached to London Wasps.

But Gold, who feels a particular affinity with this group of players as he coached them during his final year of teaching practice, preferred to hail the overall quality of his young side. "About 15 of the 22 who will play against Moulton are in the lower sixth. There hasn't been one individual who stands out, which is unusual. Instead they have been consistent together, particularly with some good results in late November, early December.

"We don't know much about Moulton, but one thing I have told the boys is not to think about the final just yet. Of course they are excited to be in the quarter-finals, but if they start thinking about Twickenham, they could be out before they know it. The current lower sixth have an idea what that is like, as they were beaten in the last 16 of the Daily Mail Under 15 Cup two years ago."