This Saturday sees the opening match in the inaugural Emperor College Rugby Championship between James and a combined Langwith/Goodricke/Wentworth team.
This year’s tournament is the first in which all eight colleges have taken part in a XV’s tournament since College Rugby was re-introduced in 2007. Since then, there have been annual tri-college tournaments between James, Derwent and Alcuin and an annual one-day tournament featuring all the colleges. Last year James walked away with both titles.
This year, college rugby has benefited from having a sponsor, Emperor’s Gym, and from a £700 grant obtained from the Rugby Football Union (RFU), thanks to the efforts of the University Rugby Club (UYRUFC), College Rugby President Alex Muntus and York Sport College Sport Officer Paul Guest.
This funding means that college rugby now has its own equipment and is able to organise training sessions, rather than leave the colleges to find any spare bit of grass to practice on, as had happened in previous years.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of rugby pitches on the 22 acres, the matches will be at the Archbishop Holgate School on Hull Road and at local club York R.I.
James College, pictured here, remain the team to beat in this year’s College Rugby championship. Photograph by George Lowther.
Saturday’s match-up looks, on paper, to be a fairly straightforward win for James College. James, even without star forward Will Maxwell, are probably early favourites after their exploits last year, with Captain Alex Muntus declaring ominously that ‘I think we actually have a stronger side from last year.’
The Goodricke/Langwith/Wentworth team, on the other hand, is a team cobbled together just this week and have only had a couple of practices together to learn each other’s names, let alone how to co-ordinate as a team. However, once they have played a few games together, I think they may surprise a few people later on in the season.
It seems likely that the title will be decided between James, Alcuin and Derwent, due to their experience and large squads, but both Halifax and Vanbrugh are capable of beating anyone on their day and both will be eager to beat one of the ‘big three’.
Ask anyone who has been involved in setting up this tournament and they will assure you that this will be the best season of college rugby yet. The combined training sessions have seen a high standard of rugby from all teams and a real commitment to college rugby. All we can hope for now is that we see some close, competitive matches and have a title race that goes down to the wire, so that hopefully college rugby can be improved and expanded even further next year.
First Fixture: James vs. Goodricke/Langwith/Wentworth – Saturday, 2pm, Archbishop Holgate School
– Saturday Week 3: James vs. Halifax; Goodricke/Langwith/Wentworth vs. Alcuin; Derwent vs. Vanbrugh 10am-4pm, Archbishop Holgate
– Saturday or Sunday Week 4: James vs. Collingwood [Durham] tbc
– Sunday Week 4: Vanbrugh vs. Alcuin; Halifax vs. Derwent 2pm, York R.I.
– Sunday Week 6: James vs. Derwent; Goodricke/Langwith/Wentworth vs. Vanbrugh 2pm, York R.I.
Also: Alcuin vs. Halifax 2pm, Archbishop Holgate
– Sunday Week 7: James vs. Vanbrough; Derwent vs. Alcuin 2pm, York R.I.
Also: Goodricke/Langwith/Wentworth vs. Halifax 2pm, Archbishop Holgate
– Week 9: James vs. Alcuin, Halifax vs. Vanbrugh 2pm, York R.I.
Also: Derwent vs. Goodricke/Langwith/Wentworth 2pm, Archbishop Holgate
Nouse will be offering comprehensive coverage of the Emperor College Rugby Championship at www.nouse.co.uk/sport