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In the build up to Varsity we spoke to SURFC’s captain Ross Macknay to see how his team are gearing up for Saturday after an historic season for the club.
What preparation have you and the team done in recent weeks for the game on Saturday?
Well firstly, since we’ve finished our BUCS fixtures we’ve increased our training to three days a week. This included a session of intense beach training in Bournemouth and a day of tandem cycling in the new forest – just to keep our cardio ticking over. In the past week squads have been picked and we have been focusing on specific set pieces and run-throughs within our individual teams. I’ve also instructed the boys to lay off the sauce.
How’s the season gone for you so far?
Last season we were promoted into Prem B, which was the first time SURFC has been in such a league in over 100 years. We finished 5th out of a total of 7 teams which I believe was a fantastic result for us. With teams such as Exeter, Bath and Cardiff Met, the performance the boys put in throughout the season was unprecedented.
Do you think this confidence will propel you to victory at varsity?
Absolutely, the lads know what’s at stake here and we’ve been looking forward to Saturday since the start of the year. The confidence of all three teams has grown each week, with players exceeding at their own game which was the clubs goal from September.
Do you think playing away from home will influence your game?
Most certainly not. Seeming as we travel as far as Plymouth as well as venturing into the depth of Wales, travelling away bears no disadvantage for the boys. The lads are expecting a rowdy crowd but as like any other Varsity it is expected and the boys are ready to deal with such.
Have you been looking at Portsmouth’s play or have you just been focusing on yourselves?
The 1XV have played Portsmouth in the league twice this year already so we do have a rough idea of what to expect. Despite winning twice, I’ve told the boys to not go into the game thinking it will be easy. Portsmouth do have the home advantage and they’re certainly going into Saturday not wanting to lose. Expect a very physical game from the off.
On the day, as captain, how crucial will your leadership be to the boys?
Being captain has been an absolute honour this year, with my VC Toby Fricker by my side and despite being an extremely hard season for a club who’s underfunded and has just one coach for all 3 teams, I believe the boys have faith in both myself and themselves to succeed on Saturday.