Many of you will be aware of how Men’s Rugby are currently trying to overturn a ban imposed the Union, which prevents them from existing as a club next year. To move away from the negativity of the situation, Concrete Sport caught up with the captains of the first and second XV, Mark Perkins and Matt Williams, and quizzed them on rugby’s year in sport.
The first XV were on course to finish fourth in their highly competitive Midlands 2B division before the ban was imposed, and due to this the team finished 5th. Attractive rugby was the product of fantastic teamwork and a special mention should be given to the back row, who were pivotal in all games; Brian Bernardez, Rich Heap, Simon Portwain and Phil Johnson all performed exceptionally well in these positions.
Despite narrowly losing to Essex 19-14, Perkins believes Derby Day was the highlight of the season. Playing in treacherous conditions, the team showed spirit and belief to produce some attractive rugby and it was unfortunate that the opposing kicker was incredibly talented. Should UEA RFC be competing next season, Perkins is optimistic that the team can push for promotion by securing a top three position.
The second XV had a good run of results in the autumn semester, however a combination of injuries and poor weather meant that momentum was lost in the spring semester, and with the ban handing walkover results to the opposition, the team unfortunately finished bottom of their division and were relegated.
First year Cameron McNeil and fourth year Joe Pearson are the standout players for Williams, both performing to a high standard all season in the position of fly half and number eight respectively. McNeil kicked the team to victory on more than one occasion whereas Pearson proved to be versatile as both a try scorer and fantastic tackler. Williams considers the away match against Nottingham Medics as the second XV’s standout match, where UEA were aggressive and clinical, scoring over 50 points against Nottingham on their home turf.
If competing next year the second XV will continue to develop players as a mid point of progression from the third XV (who compete on a Saturday) and first XV. Despite its role as a feeder team, Williams hopes to keep the squad mentality that has existed this year that resulted in a communal feeling of independence from the first XV.