This Saturday will prove to be the final Varsity contest for many of Nottingham’s rugby league side in what has become a closely-fought series down the years.
With the Varsity series currently 2-0 in Trent’s favour, this Saturday’s rugby league match is a major opportunity to cut the deficit. The form shown by both the first and second teams this season is then cause for optimism with the 2nd team already beating Trent twice and the 1st team finishing second in their league. Having a new coach is clearly helping this team fulfil its potential but Varsity rugby has proven a tight affair for this team in their previous encounters.
Last year, a narrow 18-16 victory followed a defeat the year before, highlighting the unpredictable nature of varsity competition. However, 1st team captain Adam Stanley is hopeful that the conditions will allow the team ‘to play really expansive rugby and hopefully entertain the crowd’ more so than last year’s ‘arm wrestle’. It is evident that he and his squad members believe spreading the ball and utilising their powerful centres will be key to winning in a more assured fashion and will hopefully allow them to play a highly entertaining game. Without singling individuals, the team sees its strengths out wide and they will be looking to their powerful wings and centres for tries.
Another area of expertise in the 1st team squad is the experience held by a large 3rd year contingent. Many of the players have been together for several years now and the experience of Varsity rugby is evident as described by Matt Porter-Hope: ‘I feel we’ve played with the same players for an extra year so I think were better practiced, we know each other better’, and hopefully this collective familiarity will come good on Saturday. Given the number of 3rd year players in both teams this match provides a final opportunity for many to enjoy the Varsity stage and gives an extra incentive to finish three years of intense work on a high. With the regular season over, the first team have a further challenge in the form of top seeds Leeds Met in their cup run. Despite this, the nature of Varsity rugby remains an especially motivating factor: ‘varsity is right up there, basically it’s our last year and it means a hell of a lot’ (Porter-Hope).
With the confidence of good season form and a highly experienced team, this match will hopefully provide both an entertaining spectacle but also the motivation for more students join the league team and fill the places of those playing their last Varsity match. Both the 1st and 2nd teams play at Highfields this Saturday with the 2nd K.O at 12pm followed by the 1st at 2pm.