Brunel University Barbarians RLFC Season Review

Rugby League began at Brunel in November 2007, when a few freshers who felt disenfranchised by the rugby union set-up at university thought about approaching the university about creating a separate rugby union side where they would feel comfortable.

Before approaching the university with the idea however, they were convinced to instead set up a rugby league side by Ryan Lewis, a fellow fresher and northerner who arrived at university to find that there was no opportunity to play the sport he loved.

After a few training sessions on a local park, they were given permission to use the university playing fields to train on. Recruiting players who had never played rugby league before, and in the majority, never played rugby union either the team played two games before the end of the academic year; both were heavy defeats, and no points were scored.

The university’s first full season in the BUCS league has been difficult to say the least!  Things looked promising after the first game – a friendly with Aberystwyth University Exiles where we triumphed 22-16 and 17 members signed up in time for our first competitive match, enough for a full squad.

However our aims for the season took a severe knock by a huge list of injuries in the first four games; including four of our most experienced players who were so badly injured they were forced to quit rugby for good. As a result we found ourselves often barely scraping together a team in the first few months – and trust us, it’s not ideal to go without replacements in a game so physically demanding.

Slowly though, we have recuperated and began to build on the basics ready to push forwards. Membership has swelled to just under 40, many of whom are new to rugby league – and some to rugby all together!  Recent results too have been promising – there was an agonizing loss against Warwick University (12-18), and the team has scored 4 or more tries in its last 4 games! One success however has been the Exeter 9’s tournament where we ended up as runners up in the bowl final.

Off the pitch the team has seen nothing but positives.  Our committee has received plaudits from the RFL and Student Rugby League; a tour to Blackpool filled with rugby, drinking and roller coasters was a great success; and joint socials with Horse Riding and Women’s Hockey have been successful! Such positives which have seen us end up with the team being awarded, Most Improved Club of 2009 at Brunel; as well as runners up for Club of the Year!

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