University rugby players will be provided the chance to represent their colleges in the inaugural College Competition this weekend.
In previous years, there has been very little association between York University’s Rugby Club and the collegiate competition, with various technical rules ensuring that rugby fans wouldn’t be able to see University firsts and seconds gracing the turf at the York Railway Institute in their college colours.
However, this is about to change with the new two-day tournament.
Two pools of three 13-man teams will play on Saturday and a Finals day will be held on Sunday, with the teams placing first, second and third in their respective pools playing each other.
The draw has matched James, Derwent and Halifax in Pool A, whilst Goodricke, Vanbrugh and Alcuin will play each other in Pool B.
Rugby Club President Sam Morrison says the tournament has been created to encourage greater links between the University and college scenes.
He told Nouse: “Over the last few years there has been a lot of negative feeling between college and University rugby.
“This has diminished significantly this year and this competition is an effort to further break down the barriers between the two.
“My hope is that there will be a fluid interchange between college and University rugby in the future.”
The addition of the University players to the college selection pools is certain to mix up the traditional college hierarchy.
Previously dominant were Derwent College, having enjoyed an imperious year in the college league and dismantling Alcuin 64-0 in the final.
However, Morrison stated: “Derwent have shown that they have a very strong college team over the last year, beating our 3rd XV twice. However, they have only two university players, so we’ll have to see what effects that has.”
He has personally installed Alcuin as favourites, as he expects the presence of four University first XV players to bolster their ranks considerably.
The tournament is another example of increasing ties between the University and the college rugby scene. Next year will finally see a college league officially sanctioned to play on campus, after years of playing in the various far-flung places around the city.
The addition of the University club support can only benefit the standing of the league in general, which certainly has much potential for expansion in interest and participation.
York Sport President and Alcuin forward Sam Asfahani is also excited about the potential for this competition, stating: “As a proud member of college rugby for five years, it’s great to see links with the University being strengthened.
“I think the tournament will also be a great send off for all our leavers.”
Matches for the College Competition start at 10am on Saturday on 22 acres, beginning with a titanic battle between Derwent and James.
Finals day begins at 1pm in the battle between the 3rd placed teams, with the Final scheduled to begin at 4pm.