Defeats can often be justified. On some occasions they can even be humiliating. Neither would be true of Sunday’s match between UoN and Trent. Varsity is a household fixture, looked forward to from the start of the season and an opportunity for both teams to enjoy well deserved support. Daniel Evans was at Nottingham Outlaws for UoN’s Women’s Rugby Union battle against a resurgent Trent outfit to report on the fixture, and question why the university will not grant such a fantastic club ‘performance team’ status.
The most recent edition of this often-one-sided fixture in Notts’ favour started perfectly for UoN with a sweeping attack finished decisively by number 11 Olivia Lowrie. Trent, who have had a great season, were not phased, though.
This was a game not following its usual script…
Rapid breaks and sustained pressure soon turned the game and the superb tackling from UoN could not prevent the two tries that ended the first half 10-5. The second continued in much the same way and some excellent passing and another fast break saw Trent’s lead increased to 15-5. This was a game not following its usual script…
Ten points down and being persistently forced back by a fast and confident opposition, things were not looking good for the Green and Gold. There was a mountain to climb, but UoN never looked like backing down. A more direct approach began to yield ground and some superb carries from the forwards along with dogged determination led to a try from number 8 Gina Watson.
What followed was near total domination, attack after attack was launched and Trent could scarcely get 22 meters from their own try line. This resolve paid off and the score was levelled by number 6 Ruby Barnes close to the final whistle. Had the match gone to extra time, the quality exhibited by UoN would likely have made a difference, but this was not to be. Instead, the result was decided by the cruelty of a penalty shootout and the match ended in defeat.
Trent did earn their win. They were excellent both in attack and defence and certainly deserve praise. Even so, UoN exhibited a resilience to comeback that is worthy of admiration. There was never a moment where commitment was in doubt and never a moment when effort was lacking. This is a team defined by graft and camaraderie, with both proudly on display today.
This defeat should also not distract from what has been a superb season. Newly promoted into the Premier North league, UoN secured a comfortable position in third place, a full 13 points from fourth. This was a league campaign to remember, being the only side to beat winners Loughborough, announcing the team as a force to be reckoned with. Defeat to Trent is a bitter pill to swallow, but it does not define the year.
Goalposts are continually moved as the status of ‘performance team’ is denied year after year
The UON Women’s Rugby Union club has an outstanding culture. Familial, competitive, and inclusive for those wanting to learn the game. Unfortunately, the university administration does not give the club the respect it deserves. Goalposts are continually moved as the status of ‘performance team’ is denied year after year. The university may profess values of inclusivity and ambition on its website, but it has categorically failed to fulfil them by allowing the disparity between the men’s and women’s teams to continue. The superb season of this year should not be a high watermark, but a launchpad. The club is there, the culture is there, and the desire is there. Where is the university?
Featured image courtesy of Daniel Evans. Permission given to Impact to use. No changes were made to this image.
In article image 1 courtesy of @uonsport via Instagram. No changes were made to this image.
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