Club Column: Rugby Union, Mens

Could the Rugby Union be the society for you?

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Image courtesy of Ali Dunn

Each fortnight, SCAN brings you an exclusive inside peek at one of our fantastic sports clubs. Read about what they get up to, and get the latest on how they are representing Lancaster in competitive sport around the country.

The first Club Column of the year, trying to remove any hint of bias, takes in one of the most popular sports available at Lancaster (as well as the one I happen to play). With three strong and competitive teams all vying for promotion, SCAN also talks to First Team Captain Sam Cusworth as to why Rugby Union is the absolute pinnacle of University Sport.

University Rugby tends to have a reputation, often revered by some as the pinnacle of the University experience, a near-constant thrill-ride with the hard graft of the frequent training resulting in exhilarating peaks such as a last-minute try or the unequivocal elation of the whole Roses weekend. To others, it retains a certain aura of ‘lads lads lads’, a near-constant piss-up with the hard graft of the frequent nights out resulting in exhilarating peaks such as a last minute pull in Sugar just as its about to close.

Whichever way you look at it, however, it’s difficult to disagree with the statement that the players themselves seldom seem to not be enjoying themselves. The whole group has a tight-knit bond, not just within individual teams but across the entire squad as a whole. When asked to describe the spirit surrounding the club, First Team Captain, Cusworth said ‘For my three years at Lancaster, I couldn’t promote a club any more for its cohesion and team spirit like Rugby Union. I came to University unsure on what mates I’d make, but joining the rugby club gave me 50 guaranteed mates straight away, therefore support on and off the pitch’

The various teams within the Club refer to themselves as ‘brothers’ rather than team-mates and it’s a philosophy that coach Ryan De La Harpe is keen to get across to everyone who joins. The mantra is emphasised every training session and match; this makes for an intense atmosphere where every single player is prepared to give everything for those around him and get the win.

It’s this mentality that has lead to huge success’ for the team in recent years. Two fantastic wins at Roses by the Second and Third team while the Firsts closed at the show with an admirable performance. From personal experience, I know there was no better feeling than representing your University and to do it alongside people you consider your brothers is an amazing feeling you can’t get anywhere else. Hopes are high going into the new season, with both the First and Second team astutely focused on securing promotion. ‘Our aims for this year are to achieve promotion for both our 1st and 2nd teams and aim to be undefeated in both leagues. Overall, we aim for all our teams to have a successful season in BUCS and a redwash at Roses’

Roses is one of the highlights for anyone at Lancaster, the atmosphere surrounding the event utterly engrossing. It unites everyone within the University whether you’re an active participant or an excited spectator. However, in the rugby team, the years highlights don’t fall exclusively within Roses. Not only is there the league to think about but each team also participates in various cup matches, meaning, unlike other sports, there’s never any shortage of game time, with matches for all three sides nearly every week. Regular matches mean plenty of memorable moments, flashes of brilliance or unforgettable performances that stay with you long after graduation. We asked Sam for his personal highlight of his Lancaster career. ‘My most memorable moment, would be in my first year, beating Leeds in the semi-final of the cup. It’s the best team effort I’ve ever seen from the side and we’re looking to replicate that for the 2017/18 season’

The only way to create these long-lasting memories is to get involved. Freshers Trials are taking place on Sunday the 8th of October and Wednesday the 11th of October, both from 2-4 on the main Rugby pitches next to the Sports Centre. The combination of the three teams (plus a new development squad for the upcoming year for any first-time players) and Rugby’s nature of a position for all shapes and sizes makes Rugby Union one of the most inclusive sports available anywhere.

It serves as the highlight of University life for dozens of students, providing experiences and friends that will stay with you for years to come. Finally, Sam was asked to sum up why you should come down and give Rugby a go. ‘I’d encourage any student at University to join the rugby team. No matter what ability, we will make sure you are accommodated within our society, as we don’t turn people away. So if you’re willing to try out a new sport, send our Facebook page a message and we will see you soon’.