Season review 2015-2016

Playing for an Oxbridge sports team, sometimes it’s easy to adopt the viewpoint that varsity is the only significant moment in our season. In fact, it can be hard not to, throughout the season I’ve been asked how is varsity prep going? Are you going to win Varsity? I must admit that I’ve been prone to make similar comments to members of other teams. Yet, sat here, reflecting on the season, I don’t look back on it in despair. So Varsity didn’t go as planned for us this season but that doesn’t mean it was a failure or a waste of time. This season we have grown as a club, we have set strong foundations for next year, we’ve achieved success in both our BUCS league and trophy matches and we’ve had a laugh while doing it. Varsity is hugely important and the result will continue to hurt CURLFC players over the coming year- although few could argue that this added motivation is a bad thing and we will look to right this wrong at the 2017 Pcubed Rugby League Varsity Match.

The season started with the arrival of a new coaching team of Colin Baker and Joe Holding. The difference in style and attitude to the previous coaching set up was immediately noticeable and we set about preparing for the season. We worked well during pre-season and our first match after our transition to a midlands league was at home to a tough Warwick side. Warwick provided a stern test, putting in some strong hits in the middle of the park but strong attacking play from Cambridge was too much as CURLFC triumphed 26-6; an excellent performance considering this way the first rugby league game for many of the side.

The next two games for CURLFC turned out to be more one sided affairs as the team looked to build momentum. Home games against Oxford Brookes and Northampton ended in 30-0 and 52-0 victories, respectively. These results were very pleasing for the CURLFC coaches as they showed great determination and unyielding defence in the CURLFC ranks. Furthermore, Marcus Clover and Oliver Lewis put in excellent performances, cementing their places in the team. The only issue in this period being a debatable red card for promising fresher Miles Huppatz.

The final game of Michaelmas term saw CURLFC play the Return fixture at Warwick RL. The CURLFC side arrived full of confidence following the result the last time the two sides had met but this was quickly erased. The Warwick side faced turned out to be far improved and a much tougher defensive force than previously faced.  A tight, defensive battle commenced and with 5 minutes of play remaining the score was 4-0 Warwick and things were not looking good for CURLFC. Yet a superb Rupert Thompson interception saw CURLFC up near the Warwick line and Corey Robinson pounced on Craig Winfield’s grubber kick to see the score levelled. Winfield was left a tough kick, 5 metres from the touch line, to take the lead. Fortunately, Winfield held his nerve to give CURLFC a 6-4 lead with a couple of minutes to go. Warwick mustered and made a final, desperate assault on the CURLFC line but the defensive line held fast and CURLFC walked away 6-4 victors to top the BUCS league at Christmas.

The start of lent term saw mixed fortunes for CURLFC. A strong performance ensured victory against Oxford 2nd XIII with Tim Hillel staring heavily with some strong runs. However being unable to field a side in a couple of fixtures had severe consequences for CURLFC and saw us drop down the league table.

The start of February saw the annual game against the CURLFC Old boys. The last 3 of these matches have all ended up with the old boys victorious by less than 6 points and this proved to be just as stern a test of the side. Andy Winfield and Ed Hayles, both semi-professional players, provided the Old-Boys with strong running and good momentum. The contest remained close through-out with Ollie Brewster and John Cormie putting in huge stints for CURLFC. The Winfield brothers traded tries and, in the end, both teams crossed the line on 5 occasions. However, the superior kicking of Andy Winfield saw the Old Boys leave with the win; the scoreline an agonising 28-26.

The team achieved far more success in the BUCS knock-out trophy first overcoming Warwick 26-22 and then Lougborough 30-16 to reach the semi-finals of the competition. Ollie Brewster once again proved a formidable force making big hits and line-breaks for CURLFC. These victories led CURLFC to the semi-finals where they would face Leicester- the importance of this game was not lost on the players, nor was the fact that the other semi-final involved two teams that CURLFC had beaten earlier in the season. Leicester got off to a flying start and played with good width, regularly finding space on the wings while CURLFC struggled to find their feet with the ball. The half time score saw Leicester up by 10. Although CURLFC showed strong resolve to fight back and level the game as they too added width to their attacking game to see Clover cross twice in quick succession. However it was not to be, with 2 minutes to play a mistake gifted Leicester the ball deep in CURLFC territory and they clinically took this opportunity and the game 30-24.

CURLFC finished their season with a disappointing loss to OURLFC in the varsity match. Sometimes it is easy to make excuses as to why we have lost yet in this case we can say little more than we were outclassed by a superior side. Despite this, I have been proud to see the determination in the CURLFC players to change this for next year, I’m proud that 2 months later they are still hurting, I’m proud that the club means this much to them.

Thank you to all that have helped played a part in the club this year, whether it has been on or off the pitch, it is greatly appreciated. The club won’t be playing competitively until October however the new committee is hard at work in preparation for the next season- we look forward to your continued support then.