In the build up to Varsity 2015, Sport Writer Patrick Whyte interviews Josh Emmet, SURFC Club Secretary, to get his thoughts on the season thus far and the upcoming Varsity game this Sunday
It seems that the season for all your teams has gone well thus far.
Yeah, absolutely! Our 1st team have been performing above what anyone would have believed they’’d be performing. We were expecting to just tread water in the league after losing so many players last year, but we’ve really stepped up as a team.
With the 2s, we were hoping to get promoted and we’ve played some very exciting rugby so there are a lot of positives. A big attribute is the number of freshers in the team and how they’ve stepped up to the challenge is really encouraging signs for next year. It’s a benchmark for the future.
Our 3s, well what’s really positive is that they’ve stayed in the league and with numerous injuries and a lack of players present it’s really encouraging to see them compete competitively. I think this says a lot about the depth of our squad. They’ve played some fantastic rugby against big opponents.
Is there anything in particular that you put this strong season down to?
It’s easy to say that the team spirit is a fundamental aspect, there’s more of a sense of team unity and cohesion than there was last year. Even in preseason we really saw that, it came to a point where we were really playing a long side friends as well as rugby players. Team chemistry off the pitch is just as important and it’s reflected on the pitch where team mates knew where one another were, understood each other’s playing style. Generally, playing rugby is much more enjoyable when it’s done with your friends so it makes the training, the games and just participating that much better if you’re with friends. The team cohesion has been the main factor. Another encouraging sign is the fresher turn out this year, after losing shed loads of players in the 1s, the freshers have stepped up and performed beyond more than anyone could’ve expected and that is a testament to their dedication and love for the squad. This has been particularly flagrant in the 2s, a huge development in the freshers and many of them have been pushing for ones and are hungry to progress which doesn’t really usually happen. They’ve been nothing short of outstanding.
The upcoming fixture that everyone is looking forward to is just around the corner; Varsity. How much are you looking forward to it?
Personally, I am so excited. I’ve never won a varsity fixture, as we lost in my 1st and 2nd year and I broke my hand last year so I’ve never been part of a winning varsity team. For me this is my last chance to be part of something special. Last year the 2nd team smashed Portsmouth and it was very hard watching it from the sideline, knowing that I could’ve been part of that. The chance to be involved in a winning varsity team is very important to me, it would mean everything to bring back that victory and also emotional to finish my SURFC career with that win under my belt. The freshers are also really looking forward to it, seniors know what’s coming and yet the excitement at training is intense, it’s all that anyone is talking about.
Will you prepare any differently for this game?
Training has certainly stepped up in terms of intensity and fitness as you’d expect with it being the biggest and most important game to us in the season. It’s a key factor as they all understand the magnitude of stepping up and claiming their position as they’re playing for the shirt on their backs and their university. But I guess we won’t actually be doing anything differently, it’s just that people will be more switched on and driven as they focus closer on the rugby. Everyone recognises the importance of this fixture and I have the utmost confidence that the boys will push through and deliver.
Sum up what Varsity means to you in three words.
Excitement; If you’re not excited about this then I don’t know what will get you going, it’s huge. We’ve known about it for months. If you enjoy your rugby, and playing in a team then this is the one, this is the defining moment.
Opportunity; It’s a chance for boys to really stand out in front of a crowd and see if they can hack the pressure, as we all remember last year with our fly-half delivering the winning kick in the last minute. It’s an opportunity for them to become heroes, to prove themselves.
Culmination; Varsity is the biggest event of the year; it’s something we should all be excited for as we’ve worked so hard for it. It’s a fixture that has been set since day one and it’s by far the biggest event of the year, and has been our final goal. It’s so important to us all, and for some it’s their last chance at being a hero for the university rugby team.
I can’t wait; I am so excited about it!
Are there any key players we should be looking out for on the day?
Beginning with one of our freshers; Zakk Scorer. If any of you have been following the Samsung prize try rugby videos, you’ll be familiar with his miracle offload which attracted viral attention. The guy has buckets of potential; he’s going to be a huge player for us in the future. I recommend looking out for him, he’s stood out since trials and he is a prime example of a dedicated, determined and hard working team player. In the 2s game I recommend you look out for Will Harman. That man has, as far as I am aware, never stopped running on a rugby pitch, he’s once again a prime example of someone who seized the opportunity and delivered a Man of the Match performance on his 2s debut. I’d like to be cheeky and squeeze in Sam Sheppard as well, because he has come back from injury and proven to everyone that he is a very talented player. His style, and ease on the pitch is a delight to watch, he’s a class act, consistently brilliant. In the 3s I would choose their fly-half Lewis Stephens, who has been knocking on the door of the 2s all season, every time he plays he controls the game well. He has a lot of potential, unfortunately the back line competition is very high and hopefully next year will see him promoted to the 2nd team but he is definitely one to keep an eye on at Varsity.
How far have SURFC achieved their goals this season?
I remember sitting down with the committee and we discussed several goals on and off the pitch. We were hoping the 1s would stay in the league they’re in and as I said before, the fact that they’re battling out for promotion says a lot about the team ethos, especially baring in mind that we lost heaps of players. In that respect they’ve done everything they have been asked for and more.
Ideally we wanted the 2s to be promoted; unfortunately we’ve just missed out on that. The 3s as well, we wanted them to stay in their respective league and build on forming the freshers in order to be prepared for the coming years of their SURFC career, it’s the start of the academy. This year was important as we set up the “Academy” which was the coming together of the 2nd and 3rd team, and it’s proven to be very beneficial and will be the start of something even better for SURFC, as it has been pivotal towards the decision of picking players who are willing to train hard and prove themselves.