Rugby Cuppers: Semi-Final Preview
Rugby Cuppers has had it all this year. With the semi-finals imminent, we take you through the teams involved.
Rugby Cuppers has had a bit of everything so far this year: shocking upsets, brutal thrashings and the odd Lazarus-like comeback. With the semi-finals on the horizon, The Tab takes you through the teams involved.
Pembroke stuffed St. Edmund’s to get to the semis and are looking forward to the game with top-of-the-pile Downing. Captain Matthew McBride, though, is cautious: “We haven’t really performed yet in this year’s competition: we sneaked through against a strong Selwyn side and then put 60 points past a weakened Eddie’s. We have yet to field a full team, so the semi-final against Downing is our first chance for it all to come together.”
“The Downing game is going to be enormous so that is all we are focused on for now, though there is a buzz around the squad that this could be our year and some of the girls in college are getting a bit excited. We certainly have the side to do it.” Winger Rob Elsby added that he was “Really excited for this one.”
They’ll have their work cut out against Downing, but playing at home could give them the decisive break they need.
Top of Division 1 and in imperious form, Downing look strong in all departments. Just when the Magenta Machine seemed to be grinding to a halt against John’s in the last round (they were 17-0 down) they pulled an incredible comeback out of the bag to seal a semi-final spot.
Captain Rob Hall is very much aware of the quality in his side and the potential for huge success: “At the beginning of the season Max (Mather) and myself sat down and realised that our squad had the capability to win the League-Cuppers Double; something that Downing hasn’t done since 1992. Ever since, we’ve been aiming for that. There’s a huge buzz around the club at the moment: everyone’s putting maximum effort into making the dream a reality.” They’re surely the favourites for Cuppers now, but will the burden of expectation weigh them down?
Trinity Hall did well in overcoming Division 1 Robinson to reach this stage. They’re probably not the crowd favourites: they have neither the quality of Downing nor the charm of Caius. Still, as unfancied as they are, they have a real shot at Cuppers glory. Caius are the sort of wildcard opposition that could produce anything, but beat them and they are one game away from lifting the trophy. And, given Caius’ low league position and the fact that they’re playing at home, they have arguably the most favourable draw of all the teams. Unfancied, perhaps, but not as unlikely as you might think.
Gonville and Caius are the ghost at the feast. A Division 3 side, no-one would have put money on them getting to this stage. If beating Homerton in the Last 16 weren’t shocking enough, they went one better in the quarters, knocking out Division 1 Jesus. There’s a certain amount of the unknown about them and no-one can be sure what sort of performance they’ll give on any given day. It all makes for a very interesting match-up with Trinity Hall.
Skipper Fergus Austin doesn’t want to get carried away with dreams of glory just yet: “That’s a bridge to cross when we come to it, but if we do get to that stage then we’ll be aiming to pass that last test.” Given what they’ve accomplished already, you wouldn’t want to bet against them.