On Tuesday at 2pm Jesus will host John's in one of the biggest College Rugby cames of the decade. JONNY SINGER looks ahead at the fixture.
Date: 25/01/2011 14:00. Venue: Jesus pitches
Crunch time approaches. After almost a decade of dominance, John’s are on the verge of losing their crown. And it could be about to happen with them on the pitch to see it.
What will the result mean for the League?
If Jesus can find a repeat of their historic victory over the Red Boys last term, the First Division title will be theirs. Realistically, even if John’s can pull off a result, it is unlikely to be enough to win this season’s league.
The Red Boys have been less than their usual imperious selves, drawing 0-0 with Downing at the start of the season and have been outscored by their bitter rivals by almost 200 points so far.
Jesus on the other hand have been superb, and with eight wins from eight this will surely be their year, the first time the league will be won by anyone other than John’s for ten years.
What does it mean for college rugby?
Jesus’ win in October was the first time in five years that John’s had been beaten. A repeat performance would not just make them champions. It would be seen as a true changing of the guard at the top.
Jesus captain Jamie Miller told TabSport that “They used to have a certain aura of invincibility about them. In Michealmas, we shattered that aura, and now we have the opportunity to really achieve something and show it was no one-off.”
On the other side of the coin, Mathonwy Thomas, John’s captain, told TabSport that a win for his side, regardless of its baring on the championship, would “devalue the claim that Jesus are best in the league.”
Where will the game be won and lost?
Both sides are strong up front, and it’s likely to be a physical encounter. The Red Boys have been described as one dimensional at times this season, and Miller seemed confident that he knows what’s coming:
“Playing John’s is always the ultimate physical challenge, but strategically they’re quite predictable. Their wingers are about as likely to touch the ball as Susan Boyle is of appearing on the cover of the next edition of Men’s Health.”
You would think that Jesus would benefit from a high scoring game, but don’t expect them to throw the ball around too much: “We’ll be looking to go out there and simply annihilate them in the contact” claimed Miller.
The venue could also play its part. If the game is tight, don’t rule out the home crowd coming into it.
Who wants it more?
Last term’s “Scrumgate” added an extra edge to what is already a fiercely contested fixture. For the Red Boys, while they may not quite have conceded the League yet, this will largely be for pride, and to re-inject some confidence.
They didn’t like losing their unbeaten record, and they would hate to lose their champions crown to the same opposition. Thomas refuted claims that this is a “revenge grudge match” as “a bit sensationalist” but don’t underestimate how much this means to John’s.
While it won’t destroy Jesus’ title tilt if they lose, to win the league against John’s will be a huge motivator. There is a passion in the Jesus side which may well scare their opponents. The captain summed it up simply: “We are going to fuck them up.”
The form says Jesus, the home advantage says Jesus and if you had to put money on it, the thinking man would have to go with Jesus. Even the John’s captain concede that to call Jesus favourites would “not be unfair,” but anyone who writes the Red Boys off is braver than I am. Nerves will play a part, and that might just play into the hands of an experienced John’s side.
There are only a few men in Cambridge who can say that they have been on the right end of a result against John’s. Most of them will be lining up for the men in ted and black on Tuesday. Expect a huge amount of passion.
The Tab will be there to bring you the results.