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.
The club always knew that this league was going to be extremely competitive with the majority of sides maintaining their league position for many seasons. Chris Downes, Director of Rugby at the university said he wanted the club to “find their feet” in the new league and test themselves as the season progresses.
Their pre-season fixture injected some confidence in the squad as they convincingly won against the RAF development squad, 31-12, but they are finding out how hard a new league can be.
The first competitive game in the BUCS league came against the formidable Hartpury University, as they faced their thirds team. Despite Hartpury’s established squad, UGRFC tested for large periods and pushed for the win at times, but came away with a nine-point loss.
Since then, the club have faced another three losses and a cancelled fixture. However, coach Downes is confident his side will be able to compete in this league as the season progresses.
“It is a big learning curve, we are playing teams that have been at this level for a long time, we just need to learn our way through games.”
The new league brings some tough opposition, including, UWE, Exeter and Portsmouth. After losing some big first team names at the end of last season due to graduation, the side is still relatively young and finding themselves as a playing squad. One of the club’s key focus’ is looking to develop both as players and as a squad.
“I think last year we got away with playing badly at times and winning, we’re not going to get away with it this year and we’ve found that out, we are still a young side, we’ve got guys that have been playing from the third team and that is what we are about, we are developing players and that is good.”
The club face two successive away fixtures, they travel to Brighton this Wednesday in what will be another competitive fixture for the side. They then face Hartpury for a re-match of the local derby.
Despite the two highly competitive games, the club know what they need to do to ensure they get their first win.
“The guys are talented; we know what we are about and we will keep working hard and we will get a win.”
It is no secret that this season will prove challenging for the club, but as they keep developing and taking away positives from their loss. They will more than likely come away with a few good wins so that they can establish themselves in the league and continue to grow in a competitive BUCS league.