Varsity 2013: Men’s Rugby Union Highlights

22nd May 2013

Monday 13th March saw Meadow Lane host the hotly-anticipated rugby showdown between Nottingham’s two Universities, and URN were there to cover the night’s proceedings live as they happened. Rob Schofield and Justin Guthrie were in the hot seat to guide you through.

The chaps explained what to expect from this evening.

We came on air just as the Uni ladies had completed their 34-17 victory over Trent, so without further ado we went live to our touchline reporter, James Constantine, to hear what the winners had to say about their well-fought victory.

The Varsity Series is about much more than just this event – it began back in February, with American Football, and all the events are in aid of charity. The team explained all.

This year’s Varsity Charity is Headway, a charity founded in Nottingham which works to support sufferers of brain injuries. Michael Gaffney spoke to one of Headway’s volunteers, Angela, who explained more about the vital work the charity does.

It’s been a long road up to this point, but a successful year saw Uni reach this point with the Varsity Series already wrapped up. We recapped what had happened in a triumphant year for University sport.

Justin and Rob looked back to their favourite Varsity events, with basketball’s incredible debut at the Capital FM Arena and of course Varsity’s main event, ice hockey, both standing out.

But rugby isn’t the only action left. We still have the final Varsity event, cricket, to come, alongside a huge summer of sport all to be covered here on URN.

Our previous visit to Meadow Lane, on Thursday night, saw an unmitigated disaster for Uni, with Trent doing the double in Varsity football. Rob and Justin pondered how that night had managed to go so wrong for us.

A huge amount of organisation goes into making all of the Varsity events happen, and rugby union is no exception. Justin and Rob paid tribute to everyone who worked to organise this great event.

With the stands filling up, we returned to the intrepid James Constantine to get a flavour of the atmosphere amongst the fans.

With the players warming up, we turned our attentions to last year’s fixture, and a heartbreaking result that saw Uni give the game away in the dying stages. Rob and Justin were convinced the lads would not let a repeat of last year’s nightmare occur.

Prior to the game, Sachin Gosai & Michael Gaffney went to 1st XV training at Highfields, where they spoke with Coach Andrew Corcoran, and kickers Tom Walsh and Matthew ‘Eddo’ Eddings. The coach and his players gave their thoughts about the upcoming clash.

Justin and Rob invited the evening’s commentators, Jack Maclaren and Sachin Gosai, into the conversation to give their insight on how they expected the game to unfold.

With the players limbering up for the kickoff, Sach and Jack took the reins.

The match began frantically, with a penalty given to and missed by Uni.

Even from the very start of the game, Nick Greenhalgh, a Uni player tipped from the start to make an impact, imposed his incredible physicality onto the match.

However the first half was ridden with errors from both sides that prevented either from making the most of their opportunities.

Jack and Sach gave their initial impressions of the game.

Uni’s breakthrough came through a penalty that was cleanly dispatched by Tom Walsh, putting the scores to 3-0.

But Trent immediately responded with a penalty conversion of their own, courtesy of their kicker, who put in an excellent performance across the whole game. 3-3.

Uni had the upper hand in the first half, but sloppiness in certain elements of their play prevented them from really capitalising on this.

Overall, the first half for both sides was characterised by some superb individual performances, the impact of which was reduced by poor decisionmaking.

But Uni proved superior in the maul, and this advantage proved to be the foundation of the game’s first try. 10-3 to Uni.

Trent simply had no answer to Uni’s dominant mauling.

Uni were the better team in the first half, but didn’t play especially well by their own standards. They were still making some lazy mistakes which could give Trent a way back in the second half.

Over half time Rob and Justin gave their measure of the game so far, whilst trying their best not to be distracted by the cheerleaders. We await confirmation as to whether James got a cheerleader’s number.

As the second half began, Sach and Jack pointed out the threat posed by Trent’s scrum half, a technically gifted player who was a thorn in Uni’s side throughout the night.

In the second half as in the first, Greenhalgh for Uni and Maisey for Trent were the standout players. Each continued to make a big difference for their respective team.

A high tackle from Trent resulted in a yellow card to one of their players. With only 14 men on the pitch, they were now in for a struggle.

But in spite of their numerical disadvantage, Trent put on a lionhearted display in the second half, winning a penalty but failing to make it count.

Incredibly, Trent won and missed yet another penalty kick. Uni were getting out of jail here.

If Uni dominated the first half, there can be no question that Trent dominated the second. Unfortunately for them, they lacked the cutting edge to get points on the board and make it pay.

When Uni took control of play, they all too often failed to make it pay due to offences which the whistle-happy referee was always keen to pick up on.

However, when seemingly up against the wall, Uni showed they had another gear to pull ahead of Trent’s game. A stunning exchange between Uni’s backs won a try, and Uni’s advantage was put to 15-3.

Yet another try (which was then converted) saw Uni seal the deal, putting the scores to 22-3. But even in the dying stages of the game, Trent did not give up, and they deserve massive credit for putting up a heroic effort to the very last. The final scoreline was harsh on Trent, and they deserved to take more from this game.

It fell to Justin and Rob to wrap up proceedings, but not without James grabbing a word with the victorious Uni boys. Huge congratulations were in order to NURFC – at the end of the day, all of their key players stepped up to the Varsity pressure, they played their game, and delivered everything that was asked of them. It was not a perfect victory, but nonetheless one to be very proud of.

Varsity Men’s Rugby Union at Meadow Lane Stadium
Final Score UoN 22-3 NTU

Scripting and editing by Michael Gaffney