Roses 2016 Preview: Men’s Rugby Union

For many, the rugby union contests encapsulate everything that is at stake in the War of the Roses

Image: Alex Byron

Image: Alex Byron


Thirds: Sunday, 12:00, Stadium
Seconds: Sunday, 13:45, Stadium
Firsts: Sunday, 16:00, Stadium

2015 Results

Firsts: won 31-12
Seconds: won 24-10
Thirds: won 17-0

Points Available: 7

Inside Track: David Meyrick, Club President

How have the club performed this season? 

It has been a disappointing season for the club, plagued by injury. At one point we had 10 first-team players out making it difficult to get any continuity amongst the team. That being said, the majority of injured players are back for Roses and we are relishing the contest against Lancaster.

What do you expect from Lancaster?

As always with Lancaster, you expect a gruelling battle on the pitch. They have had a particularly good season this year and with us winning the whitewash with little competition last year, they will surely be pumped to come at us with everything they’ve got. Going there is never easy, and with an opposition support cheering them on, it is always going to be a tough fixture.

Which individual players do you expect to stand out? 

There are a lot of talented players in the team, but I think on the day some of our leaders will shine. Alex Davey is a workhorse, who never fails to put in a shift in and is a big ball carrier and a huge hitter. Matty Barton plays 10 for us, he will be sure to add some flare to the back line. He only needs a split second to find a gap and punish a team.

Why should people come and watch the rugby union?

Not only is it the Roses closing ceremony but year on year it offers the most brutal and physical contest in Roses. Both teams train harder than anyone else, and seem to have the biggest rivalry every year.  Everything is left on the pitch and with this year proving to be a tough contest, we need all the support down cheering for the boys.

Year in a Tweet

It’s been another difficult year for UYRUFC. Their Firsts have now suffered back-to-back relegations and their second and third strings also struggled in their respective BUCS leagues. They will need to put these thoughts firmly in the back of their minds- which they were able to do last year- if they want to repeat a whitewash.

Red Rose Report: Chris Bickley, SCAN Sports Editor

Last year was bitterly disappointing, but this has been one of the strongest seasons for the men’s Rugby Union squad in years- particularly the 1st team, who are sure to hold firm in the Roses after winning promotion and reaching the Northern Conference Cup final in 2016.

Nouse Verdict

Make no mistake about it, in many ways the odds are stacked against UYRUFC. Lancaster’s First XV gained promotion backed into BUCS Northern 1A and the Black and Gold were demoted into 2B. Their Seconds and Thirds have finished in comfortable positions in their leagues, while York’s equivalents have finished second bottom and bottom respectively.

The Red Rose are coming into the fixtures from a spine-splitting four-week boot camp under their coach, former Namibian international Ryan de la Harpe. With a whitewash to overturn, they will be backed by a ferocious home crowd hoping to cheer the home side to victory on Sunday afternoon as the tournament comes to a close.

All of that said, there is something about the heat of Roses battle that brings the best and the nastiest out of York in this sport. They have something of a hoodoo over Lancaster having not lost the Firsts fixture since 2008. Alex Lee will look to dominate at scrumtime and second-row Alex Davey the airwaves, while Marcus Goss and Archie Cable will threaten from the backline. The battle between York’s Matty Barton and Lancaster’s Matty Johnston at 10 will be absolutely crucial. Whatever you do, get that late bus and make sure you’re there to roar the White Rose to a win in their backyard.

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