The University of Essex Rugby Club is topping the University form table with their first team and an improving second team. With half of the season complete and in the record books the firsts are desperate to achieve both an undefeated league championship and cup run to add. The New Year beckons with a difficult opening fixture against UCL 1st XI in the cup, an unbeaten counterpart a league above, however the Essex outfit remain upbeat about their chances. They welcome all-comers to Rugby Pitch 1 and fancy themselves against most teams in the BUCS Eastern Conference. The fixtures though begin with a third match up with the UCL second team, both times the Essex team proved to be superior in each area of the game. The league boasts one opponent who has the potential to be a banana skin for the Essex outfit; Universities at Medway firsts are unbeaten also, apart from their loss to the Essex side. The two form teams will meet in what will inevitably be the league decider in just the second week of this term. With home advantage the Medway side could prove to be more than a formidable opponent. If Essex go on to win this matchup it is more than likely that an unbeaten league campaign will be achieved.

The second team also has shown promising signs, with a difficult beginning with a team getting to know each other and learning week by week, they are surprising their opponents with performances that are both impressive and exciting to watch. Unfortunately, they were ousted in the cup by a team 2 leagues above but they still remain confident in securing a place in their league with the intention of gaining promotion following year. The second team are lying in a place in the league unrepresentative of their ability, suffering from the inevitable issues facing a team made up of predominantly first years. With the rapid rise in team chemistry and bonding the side really started to gel after a few weeks and are now a force to be reckoned with in their respective league.

The first team will be rebuffed by returning players of yesteryear who have been studying abroad and also with players returning from injuries that kept them out for the majority of the first term, these returning players should bring about new levels of competition for places and make the players work harder to impress. Not only this, there is a hunger to succeed, the mantle of being an unbeaten team come the end of the second term is one huge motivation. This includes success at the ever closer Derby Day in which the team is desperate to make up for their close and undeserved defeat on UEA grounds last year.

The first fixtures back has seen both teams continue to display their improvements with the 1st team overcoming a familiar opponent in UCL in a 46-22 victory and the 2nd team were beaten by two late break away tries against the side that only in October gave the Essex outfit a thrashing in their first fixture of 47-5 to a more respectable 22-29 defeat. These results show that the 2nd team has progressed leaps and bounds and the 1sts are still undefeated and showing no sign of stopping. Now the Christmas cobwebs have been dusted off we can all expect more of the same from the Essex Rugby Club this term.

 

Words by David Morgan Jones

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