It may not be able to claim the sort of proximity that Merseyside powerhouses Everton and Liverpool can, yet Derby Day for UEA and the University of Essex has every other ingredient mandatory for a compelling and competitive affair.
Victors last year, courtesy of a convincing 36-9 score, UEA have every reason to be confident of holding on to their crown when the teams travel the 62 miles to Essex on March 16th. Despite currently finding themselves 11 places behind Essex in the BUCS table, UEA have a number of strong outfits capable of both tightening their grasp on the respective matches won last year and atoning for the small number of losses.
The men’s rugby sides, reformed at the start of the academic year, are positioned in first and second position in their respective leagues. The men’s first team have won all 10 matches this season in their Midlands 3B league and a number of them will take to the rugby pitches in Essex after the women’s team have attempted to claim victory in their 11:30 kick – off.
Also taking to the courts just before midday are the men’s tennis team, with the women set to complete their matches at around 6:30. Neither of the men’s outfits have enjoyed particularly successful seasons, with the second team sat in fourth spot in the Midlands 3B league and the first team finding themselves just one spot and two points off the bottom in their 2B division. However, the opportunity to claim bragging rights over their Essex counterparts may prove to be the appropriate tonic.
The men’s cricket teams will find themselves in different locations on the day, with the second team travelling to a venue off campus. Neither of the indoor sides have been particularly prolific this year but will take heart from victories for both the first and second sides last year.
There’ll be no shortage of confidence in the netball camp, with the first team on an impressive nine game winning run. The second team have endured a far tougher season, having claimed two wins outs of eight games. In contrast, the Essex first team are third in their South Eastern 3B league and still in with a chance of claiming the title. The two teams will face off at 10:30 on the Essex tennis courts.
While the UEA men’s squash side find themselves marginally adrift at the bottom of their league, the Essex men’s first team have fared only slightly better this season, sitting in fourth place in their 1A league. The hosts will look to use this slight advantage to gain the upper hand on UEA as they attempt to atone for their Derby Day defeat last year.
In spite of Essex’s aforementioned slender advantage over UEA in the BUCS table, there is reason for the travelling party to be hopeful of holding on to their champions status.
The memories of the emphatic win last year will provide a confidence boost for those teams who have struggled in their BUCS fixtures, while solid league form from teams such as the men’s and women’s rugby sides, the women’s netball and the men’s football first team will encourage them to dream of consecutive Derby Day victories for the university.