College Rugby Chaos As John’s Call For Jesus Suspension

UPDATE 15.10: The John’s-Jesus match will now go ahead after a meeting between the captains and league organiser Ian Minto.

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The John’s-Jesus match will now go ahead after a meeting between the captain’s and league organiser Ian Minto.

The Tab understands that there was little support for John’s captain Mathonwy Thomas’ request for a postponement of Tuesday’s crunch fixture, although all present agreed that eradicating uncontested scrums from the league was a priority.

More news and reaction from both captains to follow…


College rugby has been thrown into turmoil after the captain of champions John’s attempted to postpone next week’s crunch match with Jesus.

An emergency meeting of all team captains has been called for 1.30pm today after Mathonwy Thomas wrote to the league organiser about Jesus’ request for uncontested scrums in the game.

In an email seen exclusively by The Tab, Thomas told Jesus captain Jamie Miller that he was “happy to wait (ie. postpone the match) for your props to get fit/train new ones, so that the match can be played properly“.

He continued: “I’ll let you know [league organiser Ian] Minto’s response when I get it.”

Minto took the decision early on Saturday to convene a meeting of the league’s captains to resolve the issue.

The match in question is being billed as the biggest college rugby game for years.

John’s shock draw at Downing and Jesus’ commanding performance against the same side have raised the prospect of the Red Boys being beaten in the league for the first time since 2006.

The dispute stems from Jesus’ decision not to contest scrums in their matches this season as a result of their lack of prop forwards.

The league rules allow teams to call for uncontested scrums in emergency circumstances, when they cannot field two properly trained props.

And the game of rugby more widely has grappled with the issue for years, with the Rugby Football Union considering making all scrums uncontested after Leicester prop Matt Hampson was paralysed in 2006.

After Jesus’s victory over Downing last week, the debate began in the Tab report’s comments section over the away side’s decision to go uncontested.

Jesus’ comprehensive victory over Downing has set up the biggest game in years. Photo: Katrina Hewitt

One commenter wrote: “If Jesus think they have a sniff of being the best college at rugby this year they must start playing rugby properly…uncontested scrums are for 5-year olds”.

To which another commenter named ‘Jesus Flanker’ replied “Whilst the lack of two props is not ideal, that is the situation as it stands. Some of the injuries sustained when scrums have been contested with inexperienced front rows ends the argument.”.

Asked why he was attempting to postpone the match, John’s captain Mathonwy Thomas told The Tab: “We object to playing Jesus with uncontested scrums because scrums are supposed to be contested.”

He continued: “The match referee told me that he regularly referees school teams who rarely have such an issue. A college team fighting for the title should be able to compete in all aspects of the game, not just those which they feel are to their advantage.”

“At least in the last two years Jesus used to start contested, then because they ‘sustained front row injuries’/when they realised it would be strategically advantageous, went uncontested.”

Thomas told us the match referee had said to him: “Any side with a strong pack of forwards is at a disadvantage when they [uncontested scrums] occur. It is my personal view that a game that starts with scrums that are not contested is not really proper rugby.”

Asked to respond to the accusation that the Red Boys are stalling in the hope that they will have more players available later in the season, Thomas said: “I’d suggest those Jesus players spend less time speculating and more time practising scrums. We would be happy to play Jesus on Tuesday if they could find some props.”

Jesus captain Jamie Miller told The Tab: “At this point I’m not going to comment on the sportsmanship of it all. But John’s must realise that trying to avoid playing us is the best possible motivation I could have wanted for my guys.”

Another Jesus player told us: “John’s are running scared, it’s pathetic. They drew with Downing and are now pissing themselves at the prospect of us ending their unbeaten record. I can’t see the match being cancelled. Bring it on.”

Follow the latest developments as the saga unfolds on The Tab and on our Facebook page.