The Redboys Return?

RUGBY: This term, all eyes will be on John’s and Jesus in College Rugby, after the Redboys lost the Division One title to Jesus last year, says MICHAEL ALHADEFF.

college rugby downing jesus johns Magdalene Queens' redboys Rugby

One question will be on everyone’s lips when the new college rugby season kicks of today: can John’s reclaim their supremacy?

For so long, John’s seemed to have an exclusivity deal with both the league and cuppers titles. This was shattered last year as they lost their air of invincibility. Rocked by back-to-back defeats to Jesus and Magdalene, John’s were forced to relinquish the title for the first time in years. In truth, it had been a stuttering campaign throughout – John’s seemed to lack their usually bullish dominance. The team found rehabilitation in cuppers – beating Jesus in the final to avenge their league defeat.

However, for any Redboy the aim must be to do a lot better. There will be a determination to prove that last season was only a blip. Anything other than a strong start and the whispers will grow that there has been a permanent power shift in college rugby. It will be up to the Redboys to prove that they are still the top dogs.

Jesus will be looking to dispel this. After an incredibly successful campaign last year where they marched unbeaten to the Division One title, they will be looking to prove that they have earned the right to be at the top of the tree. Titles can be won and lost; it is the team that goes onto to be serial winners which is the real distinguishing feature. Jesus have the chance, the question is whether they can take it.

These are the two powerhouses of college rugby and it is difficult to look past them. However, if last year proved anything then the competitiveness of many of the games demonstrated the gap is shrinking. An easy victory will be a rare beast. Whoever marches to victory will have to do it the hard way.

Downing will certainly be ones to watch. Experienced in the top tier of college rugby, they will probably be looking to snatch a victory over one of the big boys.

Queens’ will be looking forward to another year in the top flight after confidently brushing aside Magdalene in last week’s relegation decider. That performance showed enough that the team should be able to provide another challenge this year. After an impressive start last year, the team rather faded which left them on the brink of relegation. Captain Calum Roberts will be hoping that they don’t experience ‘second-season syndrome’. They certainly now have the impetus to push forwards.

Along with Magdalene, Trinity were the other team to be relegated. Both established teams, it was a shock to see them both go down. Robinson and CCK will be the new boys in Division One and will just be hoping to maintain their status. A good start will be crucial.