Season review 2018-2019

After a successful league campaign last year which resulted in promotion, Cambridge were looking forward to playing at a more competitive level this year. The regular season has been a bit of a mixed bag for CURLFC with some very positive performances, but also some missed opportunities. The season started off in emphatic fashion with a 46-26 victory over the league’s defending champions Coventry. This was a particularly pleasing start as there were a fair few new caps in the team, but it was on the older players, Darwin, who put in the performance of the match, with a dominant display upfront. The team were brought back to reality the following week with a disappointing display against Warwick, going down 33-12. 

A bank of two home games followed which provided the squad with a great opportunity to gain some momentum. Sadly the Light Blues went down 16-26 against an aggressive Oxford Brooke’s team. The team left the field feeling that a lot of chances had been left out there. This motivated the Light Blues to wrong their rights the following week, and perhaps the most complete performance of the season was put in: a comprehensive 26-16 defeat of Birmingham. McGinn, making his first appearance for the club, was imperious at fullback. The postponement of the first Oxford league game allowed the Blues to regather and put some lads on the physio beds, and a confident team travelled to Coventry…

What the Light Blues hadn’t realised was that Coventry were a completely different beast at home, eager to avenge their defeat earlier on in the season. Coventry put out a gargantuan side with many Coventry Bears (a semi-pro side), an Ireland international fresh off hammering Wales at the weekend and a fair few lads looking well into their third or fourth degrees. The Light Blues put in a brave performance, and looked promising in attack, but went down 48-20. Another away day followed the next Wednesday and in the most frustrating performance of the season, Cambridge threw away a game against Brookes that they should never have lost, eventually losing 26-22. The boys couldn’t quite get over this disappointment and put in a dire performance against the unspectacular Warwick to lose 4-20.

The boys regrouped after Christmas for a pre-Varsity camp in Cambridge and had a solid week of training, along with a bit of team bonding. The lads were in high spirits for their first crack at Oxford in the 2018/19 season, and the first league game against the Dark Blues in a number of years. Sadly, the weather was dire, but, as usual, the game was a great physical contest with a number of big shots going in from both sides, and providing a bit of a preview for what you can expect to see today! Sadly for Cambridge, Oxford’s error count was a lot lower than the Light Blues and this helped them claim a 16-0 win. The Light Blues took the positives from the game to help them pull off a win away against Birmingham with this being one of the most dramatic games played in a number of years. Losing 22-16 with a minute to go, Darwin crashed over to bring the score to 22-20. Foord, sadly (and predictably) shanked the kick, and it looked like a brave Light Blues side were going to go away empty-handed. However, with one more play left there was still a glimmer of hope. Foord collected the kick-off and sent it to the heavens where Thrush, who put in a stunning performance all game, plucked it out of the air and galloped in under the posts to give Cambridge the victory. However, consistency has been a problem for the Light Blues all season and the following week the lads were outmuscled by a physical, and more hungry Reading side. Although, the captain could be partially blamed for this: Foord allowed Reading to play with twenty-three instead of the usual seventeen.  

The season has been a slightly frustrating one for Cambridge and if some things had gone slightly differently the team could have easily secured a few more wins. The boys will take great confidence in the run-up to varsity knowing that if they can iron out a few basic errors the complete performance is not far around the corner. The varsity game is particularly crucial for Cambridge this year as the team have to win to stand any chance of avoiding relegation this year, coupled with the fact that Oxford have now won this fixture nine years in a row is motivating the team to be the best Cambridge side in a decade. The game should be immense, with the desperation of needing to win coupled with the age-old rivalry of Cambridge and Oxford so I hope you enjoy the game!

The club would like to extend their thanks to a number of parties without whom this day would not have been possible: first, Cambridge City Rugby Union Football Club, our hosts for the game today. Secondly, the Old Boys who are a constant source of support, especially Craig (our newly appointed general manager) who has been a great help in organising today and always provides wisdom and calmness. We hope that we can continue the proud tradition that this club has. John (the Oxford general manager) has been fantastic in making sure that varsity goes ahead and his experience in organising the Rugby League Varsity Match has been invaluable. Perhaps most importantly the whole club would like to say a massive thank you to our head coach Rob. Rob has been one of the driving forces in turning the fortunes of the club around in these last two years, and without his constant enthusiasm and knowledge for the game, the boys would be playing nowhere the level that we hope to reach today. Lastly, this will (finally) be Sam’s last, and fourth, varsity game. As captain, Sam has been a constant source of support in his role as Club President this year, and without him, I would have seriously struggled to maintain the club. Sam has been a major reason why we have secured such a great venue today, but more importantly, he has been the main reason why CURLFC has returned to being a serious rugby league club. All the players are hoping that we can reward his hard work today with a win. 

Sam Parker, Club President 2018/19

Hilary Foord, Club Captain 2018/19