Varsity 2016: Rugby

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In the build up to this weekends Varsity competition, writer, James Moseley, interviews SURFC president George Taylor-Walker and SUWRFC captain Saima Waseem, to get their views on the biggest fixture for Team Southampton this year.

With rugby being one of the most traditional and oldest sports played at university, the rivalry between Southampton and Portsmouth has understandably a long and hard contested history. With both the mens and womens first teams clinching very tight wins last year to help Southampton retain the Varisty cup, they will be looking to replicated their good fortunes on home turf at Wide Lane this weekend.

 

Interview with the President of Southampton University Rugby Football Club, Geroge Taylor-Walker, on the mens 1XV going into this weekends varsity match:

How has the season gone for the team so far?

We’ve had a great season going unbeaten until just recently. Likewise, the 2s and 3s have also been outstanding. The 1XV have also secured a well earned promotion to Prem B, which is the highest level that the club has ever played at!

Have you changed anything in terms of training or squad list for varsity?

After securing a promotion against Cardiff Met, we have begun to give experience to the younger players for the future seasons. Training has only intensified due to competition for places within the squad.

How confident you feel going into varsity this year? Having come out on the right side of an 8-6 result alst year, do you anticipate another low scoring game or a more expansive try fest?

I agree that last year was very tight, however, this year I see SURFC putting on a performance. With a full, healthy squad who put 28 unanswered points against pompy in preseason, I can’t see us not putting at least 4 or 5 tries on the board. 

How do you feel playing at home will affect the team and your game plan?

Playing at fortress Wide Lane with the support of a home crowd means that hopefully we can recreate the intense atmosphere we had in 2013. The game plan will not change, we aim to put on a performance. 

Wide Lane being notoriously water logged, and rain expected during the week, what changes, if any, are you going to make to your game plan to accommodate this?

Unfortunately, boggy pitches make for very tactical, up the jumper rugby. We can easily play that way but to really put on a show, a drier surface would be preferable. However, executing our style of rugby will not be determined by the weather. 

What are the team’s key strengths? Are there any key players we should be keeping an eye on in particular?

Our strengths include our high work rate, our aggressive defence, the sheer determination to win and our high skill set. Im going to say 1 to 22 are the players to watch, but of those individuals:

Our 10, Adam Davies, is our electric playmaker. Expect things to happen when he has the ball in hand. 

Freddie Gleadowe, 12, is the reason our club has gone to such heights. An absolute clubman, he has one of the highest work rates that I have seen from any player and a huge determination to win. 

Toby Fricker, 11, we just don’t know how he gets through players. He’s a ghost and he will definitely make a play that will make you think ‘how?!’. 

Harry Burn, 9, he plays at a million mph. He wants to win and can squeeze through any gap. A key link player between the forwards and backs, often seen whining about not getting the ball quick enough. 

James Perkins, 6, has been having an absolute stormer of a season. The man knows how to win and imposes a big physical presence in the back row. A big shout for player of the season. 

Ben Flett, 7, our 1XV captain. A master of the dark arts, who puts his hands in places nobody would. Our Richie McCaw. Expect multiple turn overs from Ben, one of our key back row trio. 

Josh Collis, 8. I don’t want to blow his ego up any larger than it already is but this man runs like a steam train and tackles harder than a brick wall. Expect a try from this lad. 

Digby “Chop Soc” Parsons, the scariest man in the club. Every game he is top contender for hit of the day. Expect to see this man being a human torpedo and we can’t forget his big ball carrying ability. 

Ross Macknay, 2. If this man wants to run over you he will, expect some big hits in the midfield! A man who leaves everything on the pitch. 


Prediction for the final score?

I can see SURFC putting pompy to the sword and scoring at least 4 tries. I see SURFC 1XV winning 31-9. 

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Interview with Stephanie Thomas, womens 1XV captain:

 

How has the season gone for the team so far?

The season has gone well – we have won all our league games except 1 against Solent! Theres just one league game left against Bournemouth, we hope to win that and come 2nd in the league. Sadly we lost our cup match, but it was a good fight against marjons who are in the league above!

Have you changed anything in terms of training or squad list for this game?

It will be a similar squad to what it has been all season, potentially moving around some key players and giving the students in their final year lots of game time.

How do you feel going into varsity this year? Do you expect a repeat of last year’s high scoring but closely fought victory or a more conservative approach from both teams?

We will win this year!

How do you feel playing at home will affect the team and your game plan?

We always play better at home, plus the support of Southampton, it will definitely be an advantage.

Wide Lane being notoriously water logged, and rain expected during the week, what changes if any are you going to make to your game plan to accommodate this?

We will slow our game plan down in the forwards, play a backs game as our runners will be able to make ground more than the forwards will. Plus its going to be a slippery ball so we will communicate this and hopefully our hands will be consistent

What are the team’s key strengths? Are there any key players we should be keeping an eye on?

Definitely speed, and team play! I predict tries from Tashana Goode – one of our wingers.

Prediction for the final score?

Southampton 25-20 Portsmouth

More articles in Varsity 2016
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  4. Varsity 2016: Quidditch
  5. Varsity 2016: Hockey
  6. Varsity 2016: VP Sport Jamie Wilson
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