The University of Exeter Rugby Club played Bath University at the annual Rugby Varsity match.

EURFC slip and slide to varsity victory

The University of Exeter Rugby Club have surged to the top of the British Universities and Colleges (BUCS) League table after a dominant performance against Bath.

A cold and wet February evening didn’t deter thousands of fans from lining the stands at Sandy Park, home of Exeter Chiefs, for the annual Rugby Varsity on 13 February.

The match, held this year in aid of Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), opened with entertainment from the University of Exeter Cheerleaders before the two sides took to the waterlogged pitch.

A slow start to the match saw Bath clinch the early initiative, claiming a penalty after just five minutes. Wet and slippery conditions caused trouble for both teams and despite Bath’s Matt Lowcock taking a trip to the sin bin Exeter were unable to break through their opponents strong defensive back line.

Going into half time the home side trailed Bath 0 – 3 despite appearing to be the stronger side.

Club Captain Bertie Hasking, who came off in the first half due to an ankle injury commented at half time: “The boys have done really well, they are really strong. Bath is always a strong team and we have to push on. The crowd have been massive. It really helps and gives you goose bumps when you run out. It’s disappointing not to be on the pitch, but Rich [his replacement] is the first team captain so the team are in safe hands.”

It didn’t take long after the resumption of play for Exeter’s talent to begin to show. Just two minutes into the second half a blistering run by Rob Coote fed Toby Bain to score the first try of the match. The flood gates then opened as Exeter placed the ball over the line a further three times, whilst only conceding only a single penalty.

At the end of play the stood at Exeter 29 – 6 Bath. The four try victory giving the University of Exeter an important bonus point, allowing them to leap frog Cardiff Met at the top of the BUCS Premier South league table.

Director of rugby Keith Fleming said “The team showed real character. They did the right thing, kept working and hunted down those points. The crowd were fantastic, varsity crowds are unique and I think the team would agree that they were the 16th man tonight.  It’s fantastic to come to Sandy Park and let some of the Exeter Chiefs guys watch the team perform so well.”

Rugby Union is one of the University of Exeter’s ten focus sports and benefits from a performance partnership with Exeter Chiefs and South West Communications, who this year have offered bursaries to eight University players.

Harry Langley (MA General Management, 2010) of South West Communications said “This is a great occasion to see the boys on home turf. The conditions have been difficult, but Exeter’s pressure in the second quarter has built into a better second half, and pressure always turns into points.

The relationship between South West Communications and the University of Exeter Rugby Club has been developing over the last three – five years and the results have been getting better every season. Success is breeding success and a number of players are progressing into the Chiefs set up.”

The victory is a fantastic achievement for the side who have been training incredibly hard throughout the year, but celebrations will be short lived as already the team looks forward to the upcoming BUCS Championship . Keith Fleming commented: “The hard work starts now in the knock out competition. We will have to work hard, to win every game.”

Images from the varsity match are available on the University of Exeter Sport Facebook page.

Date: 14 February 2013