Impact sat down with Sam Buckler and Ben Warner from the University of Nottingham’s Men’s Water Polo 1st team, ahead of their Big BUCS Wednesday final against the University of Manchester.
Does being the only team sport to have currently qualified for a Big BUCS Wednesday final add any pressure to your match?
Ben: “Personally, I don’t think so, we’ve been playing together for a long time and we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We’re used to playing together, we’re used to the facilities. Obviously, it’s at home, which is a massive added bonus for us so I think we’ll be fine.”
Sam: “I think the only pressure on us is the pressure we put on ourselves. We know we’ve got one of the best teams in the country and we want to win it all.”
Ben:” If we perform to the level we know we can perform, then we’re very confident.”
You mentioned the facilities there, how big a part has DRSV played in improving you as a team and as individual performers?
Ben: “For us, it’s been a great bonus. We’re obviously a performance potential team, and we get several team and physio sessions, working together twice a week in there along with stretching sessions. It’s more team bonding as well when working on the muscles, which are the things which are going to help us perform even better when we’re in the pool. The facilities have only been a plus for us.”
“We’ve had some really tough games against top teams like Cambridge, and we know we’re going to be tested again in this final.”
Sam: “Yeah definitely, it’s more things outside the pool in terms of building strength and building speed which DRSV has really made possible. In our first two years, we had the previous sports centre. We didn’t have the quality of these classes available to use every Monday and every Thursday. Stretching and strength conditioning has definitely built another dimension to our game and improved our play in the pool.”
You came top of your league this year, how important do you think it is to try and take that form into the game on Wednesday?
Ben: “We’ve performed well all year; we won every single game bar one draw, and we know that if we play to the potential and ability we can do as a team then we’ll be fine. Manchester [our opposition in the final] are unknown to us, we’ve not played them recently and they’re in a different division to us.
“Even though we came top of our league, they’ll have done the same in their respective division, but as long as we perform as we know we can then we will face no problem.”
Sam: “We know it takes a very strong team to reach a final so Manchester are definitely going to be bringing their a-game. In terms of our league form this season, we’ve had some really tough games against top teams like Cambridge, and we know we’re going to be tested again in this final.
“Luckily, we have had that experience of really close games, like when we beat them (Cambridge) 8-7 to win the league, we know that in tight moments we can close out games, this man (Ben) will tell you, he scored the winner.”
How important do you think the home advantage will be with Big BUCS Wednesday taking place here this year?
Ben: “I think it’s not only an advantage in that we don’t have to travel, we’re in our own home surroundings, but also because it’s in our pool. Each pool is different widths, so we know we can play to our strengths, having played so many times in our pool.
“It gives you a huge adrenaline boost when people are cheering for you.”
“We train here, we play here, so it couldn’t really be any better for us. We’ve got the facilities of the high-performance centre to warm up in and activate before and, hopefully, we will get a big crowd of friends and anyone from the University to come and support us.”
How big a factor do you think that home crowd support will have on the game?
Sam: “It’s massive, it gives you a huge adrenaline boost when people are cheering for you. We’ve had a couple of varsity games here now, where the entire pool has been packed out with 300 people, so we’re kind of used to that sort of environment and it’s always given us a big boost and really adds to our play.”
Do you think that a good performance in the BUCS final could be the perfect warm-up for next month’s Varsity fixture?
Ben: “Yeah definitely, I think, we’ve already won the league, if we can do this it will top the year off for us. We need to win the playoffs to go up to the top division, but if we can do this then it’s a great run-up to varsity.
Hopefully, we will get a good result, but overall it’s been a really good year for the club.”
For anyone interested in going down to support the team, the game will be at the David Ross Sports Village at 11:30 on Wednesday 21st March.
Featured image courtesy of Lucy O’Driscoll via Impact Images.
Images courtesy of UoN Sport.