It has been a fine season for the University of St Andrews Rugby Football Club. Success earlier on in the year in the varsity match against Edinburgh brought some silverware to the storied display cases of the sports centre.
While the club quite rightly celebrated what was without question a fine achievement, director of rugby David Ross was always very much grounded with his eyes on a much bigger prize ; a BUCS League triumph which would be the club’s first in sixteen years. An added incentive was the chance to win the league having gone the season unbeaten, something which several teams, most notably the women’s football club, have achieved this season.
A near capacity crowd amassed at the 110 year old University Park to watch the crescendo of what was a momentous season so far. The match versus Glasgow commenced on an unseasonal sunny day. The first half was conclusive; St Andrews were seemingly camped in Glasgow’s half for the vast majority of the time, consigning Glasgow to one chance which they managed to sky over the H. With a 15-0 half time score in favour of the Saints, courtesy of some fine scrummage work, persistent play and adept kicking, victory and the unbeaten record seemed in the bag.
However, a wise old man, nobody is quite sure who, once said it isn’t over until the portly lady exercises her vocal chords. St Andrews seemed somewhat sluggish and some bursting runs from Glasgow allowed them to briefly level the scores at twenty points each.
However, some excellent rugby, including a particularly stunning counter attack at the end sealed the points for the home side, sending the spectators into raptures. A 41-20 score reflected the dominance St Andrews showed throughout the match. The last words should be left to David Ross, director of rugby, to discuss the achievement:
‘Since coming here 4 years ago, the aim was to set out to win a BUCS championship. It was always the focus and the aim of every single season. The first 4 months, however, was trying to get the team out of BUCS 2A which we achieved and then started trying to change a culture of a club that didn’t have a high work ethic off the pitch and was stretching itself too thin on the field with the 1st XV taking priority playing twice per week and achieving nothing. The change has been remarkable in such a short space of time. We now have 36 players in the 1st XV squad and another 30 in the 3rd XV squad, compare that to the 11 total players who attended my first ever rugby session back in January 2010.
This season has been one of sensational highs. The Scottish Varsity win kicking off our university season with a stunning shock victory against Edinburgh in London really gave the squad confidence going into the season that we could go on to possibly do something special. Wins against Napier and Stirling twice as well as Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow before Christmas left us into the holidays undefeated and top of the league with only three games to play. A detailed plan was put in place for every day since 18th January for our 1st XV to work towards to achieve a historic league title which had the extremely difficult challenge of going to Aberdeen to play a team who have a home record of only losing 1 game in 6 years. Not only did we win that match, we emphatically ‘smashed’ the home team 36-6 to set up a final home game vs Glasgow to win the league. A win was the culmination of hard work from the whole club and support staff from the DSE. This is the first BUCS League title the club has won since 1997 and now puts us into a BUCS Prem B playoff, which will take place after Easter vacation. I am extremely proud of our achievements and a great group of players in the club who have all worked immensely hard to achieve their goals. Our next achievement is to gain promotion to Prem B.