1st XV Match Preview V Loughborough Students (H) Sat 05/11/2016 

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By Glyn Barlow

Can we expect fireworks this Saturday when Loughborough Students are the visitors to Billesley Common? (Sorry…had to be done)

Loughborough currently sit in seventh place in the league having won four of their encounters to date against Darlington Mowden Park (29-14), Old Albanian (26-35), Blaydon (38-66) and Hull Ionians (13-6), along with a 26 all draw with Rosslyn Park. Last weekend the Students suffered a heavy loss at Plymouth 53-15 so will be looking to bounce back with a good performance at Billesley Common.

Loughborough College fielded its first Students team back in 1919, playing their first Universities Athletic Union fixture against Nottingham in 1930.

During the team’s history celebrated rugby names have graduated to senior rugby through their ranks including Gerald Davies, Colin McFadyean, John Taylor, Fran Cotton, and Clive Woodward. Many of the teams greatest players appeared during what was arguably their strongest period in the 1960’s & 1970’s, under the revolutionary coaching of Jim Greenwood, a time when they warranted fixtures against some of the country’s top teams including Moseley where they often provided a strong midweek challenge.

Loughborough Students Rugby Club was officially formed in the 1976 when the College and University of Technology merged. A highpoint of the clubs history occurred in 1986 when they reached the third round of the John Player Cup, under the captaincy of Andy Robinson, just losing out to Wasps.

Students joined the leagues in 1996 working their way up to enter the National League structure in 2008. They achieved promotion to National 1 in 2012 ending the season a very impressive 7th their highest league finish to date.

So far this season Loughborough’s attacking threat has been led by former Edinburgh Academy centre Gair Currie with 7 tries (placing him 2nd in the league) and England U16 wing Austin Beckett with 4, ably backed up by fly half and kicker Josh Sharp who has contributed 103 points. While the students attack has seemed to function well defence has let them down at times conceding 40 tries to date.

Birmingham Moseley will be keen to get back to a more assured style of play this Saturday having found their trip to County Durham hard work last week. One should not, however, underestimate the achievement of coming away from Mowden Park with a win, something that has only happened four times in the last two seasons of National One rugby. Coupled with a near 200 mile Saturday morning journey to the game we should probably not have expected Champaign free flowing rugby running in a bucket load of tries. The all-important win was achieved and a little daylight was opened up between third place Blackheath.

When it came down to it the team proved they could muscle out a win through forward pressure when needed as much as they could unleash the backs as they did against Cambridge and Old Albanian. Equally they ensured DMP scored no cheap points through lack of discipline.

Let’s get behind the team to continue their winning ways and maintain their unbeaten home record.