Rugby Varsity build-up: meet the Bristol front row

Ahead of the heavily anticipated Varisty clash, Rugby captain Steffan Jones profiles the Bristol players. We begin with the formidable front row.


The front row – the pressure pit, the lion’s den, the place where no ordinary man ventures. It consists of two props and a hooker, a career devoted to the scrum and the inevitable acquisition of cauliflower ears.

Dalton Tice:

Will Dalton (right), get a start, and a crack at the UWE front row this year?

Dalton Tice (right) – Bristol prop

The Lowdown: Dalton has now been a committed member of UBRFC for three years, and has always wholeheartedly given his all for the club. Starting the season as a hooker, it dawned on him after 15 years of playing that he couldn’t throw the ball straight, and that a move to prop was in order.

This decision has brought about an attempt to gain some muscles over the past months, but has resulted more in him tucking into a few too many of his infamous Ben & Jerry’s ice creams, leading to him becoming the rotund, sweaty character seen staggering around the gym today.

However – credit to him – he has developed massively throughout the season, and is fulfilling his role as a senior player in the club. He has even been nominated for an England Students Development game, which he seems to mention to the boys every session.

Interesting fact: Fat D has never started in the Varsity fixture before, who knows if this will be his year? Fingers crossed we see him on the bench down at the Mem, having been denied that starting jersey again.

What to expect? Inspirational bible quotes, a questionable diet and a dodgy Irish accent, but what the UWE front rowers will be fearing the most in the close-quarters of the scrum is Dalts’ (lack of) personal hygiene.

Oliver Rix:

Oli, seen in the left of the picture is vital to the Bristol scrum

Will Oli’s fragile skull survive clashes with the incredibly thick (skulled) UWE front row?

The Lowdown: Not only is Oli often mistaken for  Josh Leslie (god knows why),  and a vital senior member of the squad, he is also probably the nicest guy in UBRFC.

Towards the start of the season Oli was hampered by his very thin skull and his somewhat-problematic habit of tackling with his head, leading to some worrying concussion incidents.

However since the stars and flying pigs have vanished from his eyes, ‘Riiiiiiix’ has improved vastly as a player, building further on his reputable position in the squad.

What to expect: Oli will for sure be seen throwing his oddly shaped physique into huge carries and big (often late) hits. UWE will be shaking in their boots when they see him take the field.

James Stephenson:

In spite of being notoriously scruffy, Bristol will be hoping for a tidy performance from one of the linchpins of their team

In spite of being notoriously scruffy, Bristol will be hoping for a tidy performance from one of the linchpins of their team

The Lowdown: Stevo is another player that has changed position this year, moving from back row to hooker. He has excelled this season for us (when he hasn’t chosen to play for Clifton RFC instead) and has deservedly gained a couple more England Students caps for his mantelpiece.

James is quite a sight around the rugby pitch; his stocky stature, neanderthelatic features and bouldering runs relentlessly scaring the life out of opposition.

Interesting fact: Stevo was born with the unfortunate condition of never being able to look tidy. Even in a shirt and tie.

 What to expect: Huge carries, big hits and a remarkable absence of sympathy for your problems.

Ryan Furniss:

Seen here in his Ireland jersey, hopefully x will channel any frustration from the result of last weekends disappointment at Twickenham in the direction of the opposition on varsity day

Seen here in his Ireland jersey, hopefully Ryan will channel any of his anger from the result of last weekend’s disappointment at Twickenham, in the direction of the opposition on Varsity day

The Lowdown: From the heights of Ireland U20s and Worcester Academy, Furniss doesn’t always appear to be too amused as he trudges up to Coombe Dingle with his rucksack when the buses haven’t come.

However it’s all worth it as the time comes when he sees a fellow teammate drop the ball because it means only one thing…scrum time.

Countless members of the squad often feel that Furniss doesn’t respect them as a true rugby player as they haven’t experienced what it’s like to be in the harsh, challenging, scarring conditions of the front row – (“the things I’ve seen…”, he’s often heard saying).

Ryan licks his lips whenever we have a scrummaging session, and his expertise in this area as well as his overall work effort around the pitch are a key cog in the forwards’ machine. Ryan, has been an ever-present in the starting front row this year.

Interesting fact: Furniss once lost to Dalton Tice (above) in a “Fake Irishman Competition”, losing out in the Leprechaun History category. Feck.

What to expect: Scrum wisdom, hard work along with ambiguous lineout calls.

Dan Kerr:

rumour has it x is endowed with enormous talent on the rugby pitch. Very well endowed

Rumor has it that Dan is endowed with enormous talent on the rugby pitch. Very well endowed

The low-down: Dan is one of the best role models in the club – a player freshers should aspire to. Kerr is a consistent attendee at all early-morning gym sessions, and puts 100% effort into the club’s cause and combines rugby, religion and research in perfect harmony,

Interesting fact: Dan goes to great great lengths to surpress rumours about a particular asset he possesses and his favourite film, incidentally, is Lethal Weapon.

What to expect? A soothing Belfast tone incorporated with surprising bursts of on-field aggression and maybe the odd ball thrown askew.