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Athletic Union Spotlight: Rugby League

The start of a new University sporting season is upon us, and so with it comes the scramble for clubs to defend last year’s titles, improve on disappointing campaigns or to simply sustain the progress that many have made over the past twelve months. The high player turnover that our teams suffer varies from year to year, and few suffered more than our Rugby League side at the end of the 2010/11 season. In fact, only three of the seventeen heroes who had helped seal a last-minute 22-18 victory in this year’s Varsity had represented the club in the previous year’s clash.

2012’s Rugby League Varsity win came at the back end of a mixed season for the club, in which the Seconds were unbeaten in their league at the halfway mark. Following a slow start and a mid-season injury crisis, the Firsts called up around half of their reserve squad, ruining the chances of the Seconds becoming Midlands Regional champions. Despite convincing successive wins over Northampton and Swansea, the Firsts crashed out of the play-offs with a dreadful performance away in Glamorgan. After a disappointing season, a Varsity defeat seemed a foregone conclusion.

It’s a peculiar feeling, being written off; it instils the pride in sports men and women that allows them to perform at their absolute peak. Captain Oliver Beech’s performance is one that will be remembered, as he made over 50 tackles, several line breaks and racked up a 100% conversion rate. Will Meddings, who suffered early-season exclusion from the Firsts along with a long-term injury on his return, made a determined recovery as half-back to play an absolute blinder on the big day, scoring two tries and threatening with every involvement. Both of these stalwarts, along with Firsts veteran Shaun McManus, have now departed for pastures new. Now comes the opportunity for our rookies to make the step up and to bring new talent into the club.

Away from the field we’re growing in stature. As a result of our volunteer sponsorship from the RFL Benevolent Fund (the Charity of Rugby League’s governing body) we’ve gained good exposure, and we’ve taken strides in assuring our relationships with university sports staff are strong, because we know they are the key to helping us improve individually. We’re famously good-natured, and we’ve always quickly stamped out any signs of elitism that seem to be rife in other sports clubs around Nottingham. Whether you’re the team Captain or you’ve had one training session with us, all are of equal value to our club.

Training times: Mon 8-9 @ the 3G; Tues 5-6 @ the 3G and Fri 5-6 on the astro.


Mike Butcher

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