Five forwards, five backs: College Rugby Tens Tournament preview

looks ahead to this Saturday’s annual College Rugby Tens Tournament, where reigning Emperor League champions James and Alcuin will be the favourites

Action from last year's College Tens Tournament, ultimately won by James. Photograph by George Lowther

Action from last year's College Tens Tournament, ultimately won by James. Photograph by George Lowther

This weekend sees the climax of the College Rugby season. With campus newspapers frequently portraying the achievements of our university teams, Saturday is a great time for colleges to display some of the talent that they do indeed possess. As the Emperor League underwent its inaugural year in the sporting calendar, despite being hampered significantly by the terrible Yorkshire weather, colleges around campus have rallied to the opportunity to contest this newly created prize. The quality of these teams has been surprising.

This coming Saturday, the eight colleges of York University play out the annual Rugby Tens tournament on 22 acres, having been granted permission to finally host college rugby on these ‘University’ sports pitches (the games had only previously been able to go ahead thanks to the co-operation of Archbishop Holgate school and the York R.I. across town) Two groups of four colleges play each other once, with the top two advancing to the semi-finals. You know how it works!

The level of competitiveness that the Emperor League has developed has subsequently created a good and friendly rivalry between the colleges that is excellent to see. With the likes of Vanbrugh becoming a major force in college rugby, and Derwent showing their calibre by beating Alcuin in the 15s last weekend, this coming tournament should exceed expectations in terms of quality, desire and commitment. James have to be tipped as favourites to retain their title following a demolition of rivals Alcuin a fortnight ago, and their victory against a makeshift UYRUFC threes side last week.

As for Alcuin, this term’s performances have been below-par. Despite the weather destroying any hopes of a fixture list taking shape, and a side plagued by notable long-term injuries, the side will need to be well-drilled; it needs its big players to perform, as well as the drive and the passion to succeed if they are to have any chance of knocking James off their high-horse. Vanbrugh and Derwent both have the potential to field good rugby sides and, whilst it would be a shock to see them oust the traditional heavyweights, Alcuin and James, their presence will certainly produce some fantastic encounters and will contribute to a very competitive tournament.

But, quality abounds in every college side and in a game like tens expect the unexpected. Things go to plan, things don’t. We’ll see flashes of brilliance, we’ll see moments of madness, but one thing is for certain, we will see entertainment. Get yourself down to 22 acres this coming Saturday.

Nouse will bring you full reports of the College Rugby Tens Tournament in next week’s edition, out on Tuesday


  1. What a stupid idea for a one-day tournament. In previous years this has been the only outlet for college rugby, however this year there has been a league and this tourney seems pointless. How many colleges genuinely have teams? How is yet another male-only one-day tournament the way forward?

    College sport is about fun as well as competition, why not stick to frisbee or dodgeball or try something new like American Football or Hurling?

    Nonce Sense

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  2. It’s Derwent’s to lose.

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  3. Oh shush Dan you clearly have no idea whats been going on this year with college rugby… “How many colleges actually have teams?” How many colleges would genuinely have a hurling team?!

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  4. Dan, everything about your post reeks of ignorance.

    Firstly, how is the tens tournament any less fun and competitive than frisbee and dodgeball for those who participate and want to watch? Indeed how is hurling likely to be more fun and competitive than the tens tournament?!

    The league that takes place over the autumn and spring terms is an extension of the tournament, ie. building upon the tens tournament’s success. The fact that the league has developed so well not only adds to the excitement for the tens, but also renders your comments about the tens tournament as irrelevant. If anything, the development of the league is a testament to the success of the tournament – which is now not just the only outlet for college rugby, it is pinnacle of a great season.

    Every college managed to put out a team last year, and it’ll be the same again tomorrow. As Mac says, you clearly have no idea about college rugby or the rivalry that has developed, and if you do then your comments have no justification and are a little idiotic.

    Why don’t you come down on Saturday and experience it? Or are you more of a fan of hurling?

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  5. Dan…. are you a women?

    also and all male one day tournament, American football is all male and a specialist/lame sport

    live long and prosper

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  6. Hey, I’m delighted there has been a successful rugby league this year, people put a lot of effort in and they deserved it. I just don’t see the point in having another tournament. I played in last year’s tournament and Alcuin put together a really good day and I know tomorrow will be fun. That was never my point.

    I just think that the one-dayers should be something that either both men and women can compete in, or something different from the opportunities that already exist in college sport. Despite being obsessed with football, I never see the point in a men’s 6-a-side or even futsal tournament for a one-dayer (especially as the thirds’ league really does offer the opportunity fo everyoneto get involved).

    I’ll grant that American Football and Hurling were probably naff suggestions – though don’t ever suggest Hurling is a woman’s game, it is brutal!

    Bowling or college paintball/quasar would be boss.

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  7. Dan,
    there are several reasons for having rugby 10s as a one-day tournament.

    Primarily, one-day tournaments promote those sports which are as yet official college sports, i.e. they do not have a league between every college at any point during the year; or they are events which attract both participants and fans; or they are tournaments that a club has specifically got in touch with myself or the committee to put on so as to promote their club.
    So although there has been a league running throughout the year for college rugby, as you know, four of the colleges have had to join to form one team. So the league cannot count towards college points unfortunately.
    As there are around nearly 100 players from the university playing in college rugby most weeks and training twice a week, then those players deserve the opportunity to gain college points.
    As you correctly pointed out, some colleges (namely Wentworth) do not have a regular rugby team from which to chose players, this is why the tournament is 10s and not 15s. Every college expressed interest in this tournament happening again this year (Wentworth were a little hesitant, but their sports reps have been more active than ever this year and there are several rugby players from there that are looking forward to tomorrow), and it is likely to be the most watched event in the college sport calender. This can only benefit college rugby and college sport by increasing participants in every college, hopefully leading to more colleges having their own team. To not have a college rugby 10s would have seen a lot of people genuinely gutted and I’m sure I would have had a fair few complaints. As yet, I have not received any complaints that there is no one-day tournament in Hurling!

    As for this being “yet another male-only one day tournament”, last term the 3 one-day tournaments were Dodgeball (mixed), Handball (mixed) and Women’s 6 a side football (hopefully, another one next term as there was so much interest). This term it has been Swimming (mixed), Cross country (mixed) and now obviously Men’s 10s rugby.

    There has not been a 6-a-side mens football or Futsal tournament put on, There may be a Futsal tournament next term, but that is because Futsal is a different game to football and a very active Sports club that want to promote their sport at a college level. Something, we as a committee are keen to do.

    You seem very enthusiastic in one day tournaments, if you have more brilliant ideas for them then please email me ([email protected]). I await your ideas with a great deal of anticipation.

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  8. No mention of Halifax? Word on the street is they’re drafting in some decent uni players to make numbers…

    Not that its gonna make a difference. Moneys gotta be on Derwent. Their freshers ooze quality, charm and good looks.

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  9. I love Guesty’s sarcastic charm. Though on a serious note it is quite nice that he’s taken the time out to reply. I don’t personally feel that having a one-day tournament count for points when it is quite clear that a couple of colleges will struggle for numbers is a great idea but do accept that the event was the will of the many and will be both popular and fun.

    Will there be a one-day Lacrosse tournament maybe?

    And what is wrong with something like bowling or quasar, which can be both competitive and inclusive?

    Oh and I love football and enjoy futsal enough, but christ, that club can’t organise wiping their own arses let alone a one-day tournament.

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