What it’s been like to report on a university rugby team

Winners of Western 1A

Time has come to hand over my notepad and pen as the season is over for university rugby. It comes a couple weeks sooner than we all would have hoped for courtesy of COVID-19. But my goodness, what a three years it has been.

As a nervous Fresher I stood at The Folly to report on some of the third team fixtures following an email asking for students on my course to report on university sports.

My first year reporting didn’t feature many games as I started to settle into a new way of life, living away from home and adapting to university lifestyles.

Fast forward to my second year and I started to find my feet and introduce myself to Director of Rugby, Chris Downes and embark on reporting on the first team fixtures.

It was during my second season of reporting that the first team were promoted from Western 1A into Prem B in comfortable style and claimed their fourth consecutive varsity win against Worcester University and what a varsity it was.

Throughout that season, all home games were attended and even an away trip to Cardiff with my housemate helped me in building my confidence in reporting and gain more work for my portfolio.

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There were 14 men for the final quarter of the varsity fixture and the scores were all level at 13 all at half time. The sheer belief and determination that the boys in blue showed in the final 20 minutes was something spectacular, and they earned themselves a 14 point cushion. As the game played on it was clear that despite their red card, the result was only heading one way and that was Gloucestershire’s as they claimed a 41-30 victory.

If you have been to university and followed a sports team and experienced varsity then you will understand the electric atmosphere that runs throughout the players, squad, supporters, everyone.

For at least 80 minutes, everyone is incapsulated in the game, enjoying life and forgetting any of their troubles or dissertations they need to submit the next day. This year due to COVID-19 varsity has been postponed and is unlikely to take place in the near future. Although I don’t play, me along with so many others are saddened at missing out on making these memories that last a lifetime.

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In my final season, things got slightly more difficult as the 1XV struggled in their new league, but nevertheless, the determination and desire was still alive within the players.

This season has certainly been a contrast to last year’s from reporting on the ultimate highs to have some tough games to recover from. The experiences that I have had and the lessons I’ve learnt about reporting on a rugby team will stay with me throughout my journalism career.

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University rugby is like no other. Trying to explain it to someone who hasn’t experienced the atmosphere is hard. Though I haven’t played the game, going to fixtures every Wednesday has made me feel part of a team like no other.

It has had its highs and lows, from a nervous Fresher scared to ask for an interview to being the first person on the pitch after the final whistle to get the match reaction. But one thing is for sure, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

So, to everyone I have interviewed or those I begged to hold my phone to record the interviews, thank you. Reporting on UGRFC has been the best thing I have done throughout my three years at university and I will always, always remember it.

UGRFC 1s v Hartpury 3s match report

UGRFC made the short trip to Hartpury University this afternoon with the hope of making it two away wins on the bounce, following their fantastic display against Brighton last week. 

It wasn’t to be for the boys in blue who showcased their new kit for the first time this season, as they lost 41-25, but secured the bonus point with the last try of the game. 

This article is published on UniVersal, to read more, please click here.

UGRFC confident that a win in the new league will come

After gaining promotion into BUCS Prem B and winning their fourth consecutive varsity fixture the University of Gloucestershire’s Men’s Rugby Union’s start to the season has been far from replicating the last. The newly promoted side have struggled in their opening few rounds, but are confident in their sides ability and development. 

This article is published on UniVersal. To read more, please click here.

UGRFC v RAF U23 Match Report

With the competitive BUCS league just ten days away, University of Gloucestershire men’s rugby union kicked off their campaign with a convincing 31-12 pre-season win over the Royal Air Force U23’s. 

Director of Rugby, Chris Downes was complimentary of his team’s five try win after the final whistle:

“This isn’t one off individual performances it is what we have been trying to build over two or three years. 

“That is a good as performance that I have seen from UOG in a long, long time.”

Within ten minutes of the opening half, the RAF had conceded seven penalties and soon found themselves with a player in the sin bin following repeated infringements at the breakdown. Despite their one man disadvantage they opened the scoring after a series of missed tackles by the home team left space under the posts. 

Liam Leeson soon responded to the visitors score after some good attacking play from Gloucestershire saw the winger go over the white wash. The missed conversion brought the score to 5-7. 

UGRFC started to take control of the game towards the end of the first half after a series of attacking phases from them started to breakdown the RAF defence. A try from Lucas Town and the successful conversion from Harry Morgan-Grant left the home team 12-7 ahead at the break. 

The RAF levelled the scores early on in the second half with an unconverted try, before UGRFC replied with seven points curtesy of George Sanderson and the conversion by Gavin Deane following sustained attacking pressure inside RAF’s ’22. 

Gloucestershire continued their dominance into the final quarter of the game as Charlie Sichel got the ball over the try line during a driving maul. Adam Turner then ran the length of the pitch to score his team’s fifth try of the evening with the successful conversion leaving the final score 31-12.

UGRFC face Hartpury 3’s at home in ten days’ time as they kick off the start of their BUCS season with a local rivalry. 

UGRFC ready to take on the battle of a new league

A new season, a new league, a new captain and a new varsity goal echoes around the University of Gloucestershire men’s rugby union first team, with a local derby set to welcome them into the world of Prem B in a few weeks’ time.

UGRFC saw a remarkable 2018/19 campaign, dominating the Western1A league and earning themselves promotion into PremB, as well winning their fourth consecutive varsity match against the University of Worcester. 

Photo via Dan Hill Photography

Pre-season is now well underway as Director of Rugby, Chris Downes and his coaching staff put the boys through their paces ahead of the new season.

“Our guys are in strength and conditioning already doing prehab and rehab work, these guys can get fit in probably four weeks, what we’re doing on the pitch is the same thing we always do.

“Develop them, working them hard, getting them used to everything again, seeing how well they can work under pressure.” 

With such a strong season last year, the squad cannot afford to get too carried away given the huge step up into the league above. Expectations must be kept realistic, something that Downes is well aware of.

“The expectations are that we try as hard as we can, keep developing as a squad, do ourselves proud and find our feet in that league, we need to test ourselves and see where we are at. 

“Hartpury at home for the first game is a lively opener but the guys know what we’re working to, local derby at home in Prem B is a great way to start.”

Every year it is inevitable that universities will lose graduating players and gain a new intake of freshers. The bigger universities are lucky enough to be able to scout players during school level but for the smaller universities, like Gloucestershire they rely solely on the talent that walks through the door.

“We’re not any of the big universities who have big rugby programs and we’re not trying to be. They have huge budgets; we don’t have a budget. 

“When I took over the director of rugby role, I said the ‘best of the rest’ and we can only do what we can. 

“We take players in and make them better”

Last season’s starting scrum-half, Josh Putt takes on the captains armband this year and after finding his feet within the squad during his second year, Downes has full faith in his new role.

“He is a good guy, in his first year he was mad for the social and didn’t take it overly seriously and we knew if we got him fit, focused and engaged with the programme he had lots of potential and he got on board last year. 

“He’s very level headed so he will manage the politics off the pitch which is important as part of the committee. 

“He’s a nice guy and a good leader, so fingers crossed he’ll cope really well.”

April and varsity seems a long way off and the focus must be put entirely on the league, but that doesn’t mean that the thoughts of one more varsity win aren’t there.

“Five’s better than four, isn’t it?

“If we start to worry about varsity now then we will start to lose focus on what we are trying to achieve with being stable in Prem B.

“If I was in Worcester’s shoes I would be frustrated that we have over taken them in league positions. 

“We just have to focus on us and that upward curve and not focus on anything else.”

Photo via Dan Hill Photography

A lot of people will view university rugby clubs as just another sports society, or can overlook it for the stigma that clubs can carry. However, at the University of Gloucestershire, it is so much more than just a club. It is clear that Downes cares immensely about his team both on and off the pitch:

“We prepare guys for the outside world that’s effectively all we do. 

“We just use the model of rugby, but all we are doing is preparing them for interviews, job applications, for the big wide world as it is and we just do it in the form of rugby.”

UGRFC will face the RAF development side on Sunday evening in their pre-season warm up fixture, a game that they won by a single point last year. It will be an opportunity to showcase some of the new freshers and give the team an idea of where they are at heading into the new season, as they prepare to take on PremB.

University of Gloucestershire alumni Ruaridh McConnochie selected in England’s Rugby World Cup training squad.

There are few sevens players that have a smooth transition into the 15s game, however, University of Gloucestershire alumni Ruaridh McConnochie has earnt himself a place in the England World Cup training squad following his outstanding debut season with Bath rugby.

“Cool, calm and collected” is how University of Gloucestershire’s rugby union (UGRFC) coach Chris Downes describes the club’s former player, as Eddie Jones included him as one of his 35 players ahead of the warm up games this summer. 

The 27-year-old made a seamless switch onto the 15-a-side stage in November following his successful career as an Olympic sevens player, in which he won Sliver at Rio 2016 with Team GB. In his first season with Bath he picked up three end of season club awards and was first called up to the England camp in June for the preliminary World Cup squad. 

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McConnochie never set out to become a professional rugby player but it was his commitment that made him stand out whilst at university as coach Downes recalls: 

“The difference of what Ruaridh had to maybe others that were more talented was the massive work ethic, his attention to detail and appetite for being the best that he can possibly be; that is probably what sets him apart from the rest. 

“I don’t think he ever came to university to become a professional rugby player, he was probably one of those late developers, but he came to university, embraced university life and his rugby just got better and better and his game is still improving now at the age that he is.”

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His ability to beat the first defender and ball in hand skills will be one of the reasons he was called up into the training squad, but there is a lot of unseen work that McConnochie does that will have impressed the England boss. 

For the university, McConnochie is a great inspiration especially for those boys still involved in the UGRFC set up:

“He has always been the shining light, the success story of recent years for the club, a lot of our players now are going onto play national and international rugby so he definitely sets a standard for the guys and hopefully he can act as a focus for the boys to understand what they can achieve if they put their mind to it.” 

England face Wales, Ireland and Italy over the summer as they prepare for the World Cup in Japan in September as Ruaridh McConnochie’s international debut looks to be looming.

UGRFC win fourth consecutive varsity

Four consecutive varsity wins is something spectacular, but to do it with 14 men for the final quarter of the game is a huge achievement, especially with a half time score of 13 all. With the women losing out to Worcester in their match all eyes were on the men as the varsity scores were even. 

Photo via Dan Hill Photography

Worcester took an early lead through a couple of penalties before UGRFC replied with a penalty of their own and then went on to score their first try of the afternoon following an attacking lineout and driving maul over the line.

Gloucester started to look slightly perplexed as a confident and strong Worcester side began to take control of the first half and looking very different to the fixture that took place a year ago.

The Gloucester faithful started to get behind their boys as chants were sung around Moseley Rugby Club when fly-half Harry Morgan-Grant intercepted a wide pass and ran in his try from just over half way, his conversion bounced off the posts and Gloucester were seven points ahead. Not long after, Worcester gave their supporters something to cheer about as they scored in the far corner and their successful conversion brought the scores level at 13 all at the break.

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Some words of wisdom were said at half-time as the Gloucester boys scored within the opening five minutes of the second forty courtesy of lock Ben Sainsbury, the conversion was good by Morgan-Grant as UGRFC regained the lead. 

Photo via Dan Hill Photography

Gloucester started to exploit the Worcester defence as they found space out wide and put their rivals to the test. Miles Fletcher soon broke through and wrestled his way through Worcester’s line for the home sides third try of the afternoon. The successful conversion started to see Gloucester build a healthy lead.

Nevertheless, when playing Varsity anything can happen and Worcester replied quickly through their scrum-half who found a gap and snuck over for a converted try. The visitors looked to be building on their pressure from the first half. 

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UGRFC worked tirelessly for the remaining quarter of the game after captain Jon Llyod left the field of play after a red card from the referee. The sheer belief and determination that the boys in blue showed in the final 20 minutes was something spectacular and following a period of scrappy play Matt Bowles went over the white wash and with the successful conversion UGRFC had themselves a 14-point cushion. 

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Gloucester worked hard to maintain their lead with the forwards putting in both an enormous attacking and defending shift. With two minutes left to play the UGRFC boys were finally rewarded from their constant pressure as Gareth Jenkins went over the line, Fletcher extended the lead to 41-25.

Worcester were to get the final score of the match through a last-minute try, but the day was Gloucester’s after the boys in blue secured their fourth consecutive varsity with a convincing 41-30 win over their Worcester rivals. 

UGRFC hoping to take their fourth consecutive varsity win

With just under a week to go until rugby varsity at the University of Gloucestershire, I sat down with UGRFC’s Director of Rugby, Chris Downes or Downsey as he’s known, to discuss all things rugby as the boys in blue go in search of their fourth consecutive varsity win. 

The first team have had one of the most successful seasons in recent years, gaining themselves promotion from Western 1A after topping the table for the majority of the season.

However, UGRFC haven’t always been the favourites going into the annual match against Worcester: 

We have been on the other side of it; where we’ve always been the underdogs. 

“They have been in a higher league but over the last few years it has changed around and now we’re the senior team in terms of leagues. 

“So, in theory we should get four but we turned them over in similar positions before so we definitely won’t take anything for granted.”

Photo via Dan Hill Photography

Playing for your university at varsity is one of the highest honours you can have during your time with a sports team and one thing that Downsey makes sure of, is that there is an equal chance for everyone to have a shot at making the varsity squad: 

It is a really good opportunity to give everyone a clean slate and then everyone is on an equal playing field.

 “It is a really good opportunity to develop the guys for next year if they haven’t played much 1st team this year, so we always take a handful that aren’t regular first team players. 

“This year because we have had a really successful season and with Worcester struggling in their league I wanted to make it competitive in our squad to make sure we were focused and primed and ready for April 10th.

Photo via Dan Hill Photography

Trying to get a group of university rugby boys to stay on a ‘healthy path’ and stay committed to the sport can be difficult but the UGRFC rugby coaches know that at the end of the day that those who really want to play will take sacrifices:

“It is player choice, so if guys want to go out on a Monday night when they’re playing on a Wednesday they just won’t perform as well as they could do.

“There’s nothing we can do to control it at the moment so we just have to accept that it is a university lifestyle and the boys like a beer and they probably sleep at the wrong time and eat the wrong things and all that sort of stuff; but they are getting better they are much more focused on the rugby and times have changed.

Photo via Dan Hill Photography

Last year’s 34-7 victory over Worcester saw Gloucestershire run in five tries against their rivals, but it wasn’t down to luck as their rigorous pre-varsity training programme paid off. Nevertheless, waking up at an hour that university students don’t normally know isn’t just preparation for what happens on the field:

The reason we get them up at 6.30am three days a week for training during Varsity is for development.

“Not because it is 6.30am but it teaches them that they need to go to bed at a sensible time, that they can’t be tired and it teaches them that they need to prioritise.

“Developing their skills away from rugby through rugby.”

Across the country, university rugby has found a stereotype with ‘lad culture’ over the last few decades, but UGFRC are changing the way this is viewed and they are fully focused on the work both on and off the pitch: 

Societies are changing, before you had to drink hard to be a rugby player that’s not the case now.

“That’s why we are definitely more inclusive because selection to teams isn’t relevant to how well you social or who your friends are in the committee it is all down to attitude and how you apply yourself in training.”

It is known that some of the best days of your life will be made at university, surrounded by friends that you would have made for life. So, what does Downsey want his rugby boys to take away from their time with UGRFC?

I want them to look back with fondness, we want to leave a legacy where people can look back and think I loved it.”

Where will you be on Wednesday 10thApril at 3pm? For a lot of the University of Gloucestershire they will be at Mosley rugby club for the final event of varsity, however, I couldn’t end the article without asking the most important question of all to the director of rugby… Cheese or a sauce?

Cheese, everyday”.

It’s more than just a game for UGRFC’s director of rugby Chris Downes

When 15 university boys are running across the rugby pitch, Chris Downes can come across as a coach you wouldn’t like to be on the wrong side of, but off the field of play the former prop is one of the sincerest people you will ever meet. 

Coaching a group of students to most can seem a stress filled job, but for the recruitment manager, coaching is way of escaping from everyday life and taking a different angle to find the best person for the job.


“It is an escapism for me from work which is quite stressful, I live quite an intense work life.

“Working in recruitment you become very cynical so it doesn’t matter where people come from or where they have been or what journey they have taken to get here, I treat everyone on face value.”

Photo via Dan Hill Photography

Downes or Downsey as he’s known to his players had a playing career dating back to over a decade and is known throughout the local rugby community.

For him to still be involved with the sport after such a long stretch of time makes it clear that the love that he has for rugby goes far beyond the try line.

“I love it when we play well, I love it when I see real progression from the second and the thirds guys or people who join us as a fresher with no real rugby intelligence and they leave at a standard where they could go and play club rugby.

“I love the friendships I have made over the years; it is very different (with a university club) there is a lot of politics within club rugby and there is none here it is a real genuine love for the sport and a genuine love for each other… and I like winning varsity.” 

Having had links with the university for many seasons before he took over the role as Director of Rugby ahead of the 2017/18 season, Downsey is very much part of the furniture at UGRFC and holds the respect of everyone at the club, but for him there is just as much importance off the field than there is on it. 

“One of the reasons I do the job is so that you can see the visible impact on their lives and it’s not just about rugby.

“It is just simple things like handshakes when you say hello and it sounds daft but we are trying to develop really good humans that are going to go out into the wider world when they graduate with good manners and good standards of behaviour.

“Words are empty, if people want to do something badly enough then they will make changes and sacrifices if they don’t it doesn’t matter what walk of life we are in whether it be recruitment or rugby or relationships or whatever its actions and behaviour more than words.”

Photo via Dan Hill Photography

Once you get past the hard exterior of the former Old Patesians player you start to see the side that maybe the players don’t, the side where a loving smirk warms across his face as he reminisces over the memories he has had.

“Everyday gives me good memories working with these guys it’s a bit cheesy but it gives me a safe haven from work (chuckles) to come and work with these guys and I would be happy to represent them anywhere and anyhow. 

“I have got lots of favourite memories here, I got fairly emotional the first year we won the varsity at Coventry, just because that year had been quite hard for the group with personal issues people had that I was quite close to and to celebrate with their family and friends when we were underdogs that was a really good memory.”

Being involved with a university sports club as a student gives you a limited amount of time to build a high-level standard of rugby and when you’re just getting into your stride your degree comes to an end, but as Downsey reiterated throughout, it is those memories that the players will make are the memories he wants to last a life-time. 

“I want them to look back with fondness, it’s cliché but they have made memories and friendships that are never going to be broken.

“I’ve known guys to be best men at weddings, godparents to children and all that sort of stuff, we want to leave a legacy where people can look back and think I loved it. “


It’s clear to see that Chris Downes has UGRFC’s best interests at heart and everything he does for the club is completely selfless, however, when asked the infamous question ‘would you rather be a cheese or a sauce’ a reply without a second thought… 

“Cheese, everyday.”

UGRFC 1XV win Western 1A in comfortable style

It was a day to remember at Plock Court on Wednesday afternoon for rugby union as the University of Gloucestershire’s first team won the Western 1A league following a convincing win over Bournemouth, 52-7.

All that was required of the Gloucestershire boys was to take away a single point from the fixture and they did that and more in remarkable fashion, scoring the bonus point try within half an hour of kick off. 

The team celebrating after the league win.

Director of Rugby Chris Downes spoke after the match praising the boy’s performance during the 1s last game of the competitive league, he said: 

“They’ve worked really hard this year and have gotten better every week and to finish it off the way they did…. It’s amazing, I am chuffed for them.

“You don’t win many league titles and you can’t take anything away they are the best in the league, I am delighted for them.”

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It was a comprehensive win for the boys in blue who were never let Bournemouth into the game and kept them to nil points until late in the second half. A brace of tries from Miles Fletcher helped secure the victory but it was a full team performance that saw them win the league.

UGRFC dominated in all areas of the match and on an afternoon, perfect for running rugby the backs displayed some stunning footwork to score some well executed tries. 

At scrum time the pack were monumental in their efforts with some of their tries coming off the back of attacking set piece as they drove over the whitewash. 

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It isn’t confirmed whether the boys have gained automatic promotion from Western 1A after winning the league or whether play-offs lie ahead, either way, the firsts have shown real commitment to the shirt all season and I am sure another matched will be relished if it’s required.

Until then, they prepare for Varsity which takes place in just over a month’s time, where the rugby boys are hunting down their third consecutive Varsity win against Worcester.

University of Gloucestershire 2XV V Royal Agricultural University XV

It was a feisty affair at The Folly on Wednesday afternoon, in which the 2nds scored their first points and try of the season in a match packed with action including 6 yellow cards between the sides. A hard-fought battle, with the visitors winning 31 points to 11. 

RAU were quick off the mark and tested UGRFC’s defence with two early converted tries with their winger finding space out wide for the second.

UGRFC got their first points of the season through the boot of captain Joel Young following a penalty. 

The boys in blue took the opportunity to take more points after RAU were penalised for not rolling away at the breakdown. The successful kick by the captain took the home team to 6 points. 

UGRFC struggled at times in defence and RAU took advantage of that, when three missed tackles helped them to find the space for their third try of the match. The successful conversion extended their lead by 7 points. 

UGRFC got the final say of the half, with their first try of the season through fantastic forward play from the lineout, before a driving maul by the pack over the line as James Buchanan got the ball over the white-wash. The conversion was narrowly missed which left the half-time score 11-21. 

A yellow card for UGRFC opened the action for the second half and was the first of many as the two sides started to get lively. 

With the one-man advantage, RAU found space in the defence to score another converted try, those were the only points to be scored during the sin binning period.

 However, a successful penalty kick extended their lead further soon after. 

As the game continued it started to get scrappy with both UGRFU and RAU having 2 players each sent to the bin, so for the next ten minutes it was a 13-man match. 

There were no more points to be scored in the second half though, there was one more yellow card for RAU, but UGRFC found it hard to take advantage of their one-man advantage and so the final score was left 11-31. A hard loss, however the 2ndteams first points of the season! 

Gloucestershire University 3rd V Cardiff Metropolitan University 5th

A disappointing day for the boys in blue as Cardiff’s smooth attacking play helped them hold their lead against the home side throughout the match, resulting in a positive win for the visitors 7-44

Cardiff’s backs were instrumental in their win over Gloucestershire this afternoon, orchestrating many of their tries during the match.

It was clear the home side were deflated after the final whistle and Gloucestershire’s inside centre Jack Guy acknowledged his team’s weaknesses. “We failed to get off the starting blocks well which consequently was shown throughout the match. Overall we weren’t clinical enough throughout the eighty minutes; the team were in good spirts but it didn’t get translated onto the pitch.”

After conceding a try within the first couple of minutes the home side were always on the back foot and with just over half an hour played already found themselves trailing by nineteen points, failing to cover the gaps in their defensive line which Cardiff exploited on many occasions.

Despite the away side defending with 14 men on the pitch following repeated penalties close to their try line, Gloucestershire failed to take any points away from the one-man advantage and it was Cardiff that came away with points during the ten- minute period.

The Cardiff boys were to score once more before halftime, keeping the home side to nil and them twenty-four points up at the forty-minute mark.

Gloucestershire didn’t start the second half how they wanted when flanker Nicolas Cortes got yellow carded for a dangerous tackle.

The home side got their only try of the match during the second forty after fullback Kyle Blackmore broke away running the majority of the pitch before offloading to Jack Smith who went over the whitewash.

But it was Cardiff that dominated throughout the game, running in more tries as Gloucestershire looked to tire towards the last quarter. Despite the home side’s best efforts, the final score didn’t read in their favour. 7-44

 

 

Gloucestershire University 2nd V Exeter University 4th

An extremely one sided first half, and a score-line that looked to turn into a cricket score against the Blue and Blues, turned into Gloucestershire winning the second half, but ultimately the damage was done within the first forty.

 

Within minutes of kick off Exeter scored their first of seven tries, when their number eight broke away from a powerful driving scrum just outside the five-meter line. A successful conversion against the wind put the visitors seven points ahead.

Soon after Exeter capitalised on Gloucestershire’s defensive gaps out wide when their winger darted over for his first try of the afternoon.

Their third followed shortly after the restart and during first phase play, when a chip down field was collected seamlessly by Exeter’s outside centre.

 

The visitors dominated during all aspects of the scrum and more often than not found themselves pushing The Blue and Blues off their own ball.

However, their next two tries both followed excellence during their own scrum and the incentive to move the ball wide and exploit Gloucestershire’s defensive cracks.

Both wingers worked in partnership when scoring two tries for their side.

Exeter started to look like they could score from anywhere towards the end of the first half, and ran in another two tries before half time. Leaving the half time score 0-41.

 

The second half was won by the Blue and Blues, but they failed to come close to Exeter’s dominance in the first half. Exeter continued to control all areas of the game but in time Gloucestershire broke down their resilient defence. This was prior to them scoring their first try of the match following a successful lineout and strong driving maul over the try line.

 

There were times during the match and especially the second half when the tension between the two packs sometimes got the better of them and the game.

Nevertheless, two sides put their differences behind them for the remainder of the game, as Exeter focused on denying Gloucestershire any more points.

 

The Blue and Blues left it late to score the final try of the afternoon, when during the last play of the match, replacement Harrison Stevens received a pass out wide and dotted down for Gloucestershire. The successful conver

Gloucestershire University 1XV v Southampton University

Difficult playing conditions didn’t hold Gloucestershire back, as they ran in a formidable ten tries against Southampton and kept the visitors from putting any points on the score board.

It was a slow start to what turned into a very exciting yet one sided affair. Both teams had difficulty in holding onto the ball, however Gloucestershire had the upper hand for the majority of the scrums.

The Blue and Blues started to open up the game late into the first half, when they created three quick tries following strong attacking lines from the whole pack. Two tries were converted despite the demanding task of kicking into the strong wind which played its part throughout the match.

Gloucestershire started to increase the pressure even more on Southampton, eventually forcing them to kick away possession. This started to go in the Blues favour, especially when winger Alex Harris sprinted down the touch line to score.

Within seconds of the re-start Gloucestershire were attacking again, this time centre Josh Frost delivered the goods for the Blues fifth try of the afternoon. Both tries were converted which left the half-time score 33-0

Gloucestershire were soon bleeding blue once again after a dominant scrum drove over the try line five meters’ out, the conversion this time was taken wide by the wind.

Winger Ciaran Leeson added the next fifteen points to the board, scoring a remarkable three successive tries with his combination of line breaks and impressive pace. This brought the score to over half a century.

Gloucestershire continued to dominate in all areas of the match forcing Southampton’s mistakes and rarely letting them into their ’22.

The tenth and final try of the match was by forward Henry Edwards who capitalised on yet another gap in the Southampton defensive line.

For a young side, The Blue and Blues held their composure throughout and remained focused in the high scoring game, something very laudable for any team. Their strong rugby ability shone throughout the match which in return rewarded them with a conclusive 60-0 victory.