From next season onwards the St Andrews rugby club will no longer be participating in any Saturday league games. This means the University will no longer be represented in Scottish Rugby Union RBS Saturday league rugby.
The club committee made their decision only recently, posting it on their website last Friday. The official statement gave a variety of reasons behind the decision, but the desire to constantly provide a team capable of competing at a high level seemed to be the overriding factor.
In the statement the club spoke of wanting to provide the “very best student experience to our athletes”, which it feels is most easily achieved by focusing solely on the British Universities and College sports (BUCS) league. The committee alluded to the changes in the academic calendar being a factor, as St Andrews’ semester timings mean there are six matches scheduled at times when nobody is in town. This also puts extra strain on the club around the summer exam period when it has to catch up on games, occasionally having to play several in a week.
The 2nd XV has never really had a settled team – a combination of graduates leaving, injuries and a new batch of untried first years means that selections can vary quite drastically. The club views it as necessary that it can provide the same level of competition against all other universities. It said it does not “deem it fair” on other teams, who may be “lucky/unlucky” depending on which players turn out.
Although this change could have consequences for those members who play less frequently in the Wednesday games, the club will now be entering three teams in the BUCS league. It is hoped that being able to focus on just the Wednesday afternoon games will have a positive impact on the pitch. The success of the 1st XV this year in becoming BUCS champions showed the club what can be achieved when only playing one match per week. The feeling within the club is that the replication of this success with their other teams will do more good than damage to the club as a whole. Speaking to a member of the 2nd XV, he said that he and most of his teammates fully understood and backed the decision.
After all, success is of the utmost importance in retaining the club’s appeal to future students and its prestigious reputation within the University.