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All or nothing: Emmanuel college rugby team edition vol. 3

Can Cambridge’s most stylish rugby team bring the goods to a new division?

Emma had stormed through Division 3, losing only one match and going on a four-game winning run (albeit four games of 40 minutes). We now had to see whether we could sustain our success in Division 2.

This meant that we had to leave behind the ways of Division 3. No more showing up to matches with less than 15 players. And no more half games too. Emma rugby was now back to playing the full game of two halves, and only one team a week, the way rugby, quite literally, should be played.

And Emma was ready for the challenge. We had a week’s rest. We felt fresh. We felt we belonged.

Week five:

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Emma’s first game was Jesus. This would be our first match against Division 2 opposition. Could we handle it?

Well… yes. Emma won 50-0. This was bigger than any win we got in Division 3, so it may seem surprising. In truth, what happened was that on the day Emma showed up, and Jesus didn’t. Literally. Jesus forfeited the game because they couldn’t make it. The picture above was from the next time we played Jesus. Maybe they heard about Emma’s imposing run of form and didn’t fancy a game? Or maybe Division 2 is not that different from Division 3 after all, and all college rugby has the same issues? Who cares! A win is a win, and now Emma had an extra week’s rest and a five-game winning run to take into the next game.

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Yes the pics are a lie and from a later game against Jesus. But if the game did go on it would have probably looked like this, with all our forwards doing the work and me watching.

Week six:

While it was nice to have started with a win (and winning by 50 points meant we probably were not going to get relegated), Emma rugby is all about playing rather than winning. And so we were glad that our next game against Robinson wasn’t called off. It was a hard-fought game, with Emma relying on every single player.

So much so that nobody was able to take pictures for the game, but that’s the price of following an authentic sports team, not like the professional teams, detached from the game with their armies of camera men.

But yet we carried on, and managed to beat Robinson 28-19, with our kicker in magnificent form, something you’re not supposed to see in college rugby. More importantly, with two wins out of two, and bonus points in both, Emma was in a good position to win Division 2. So much for there being a jump…

Week seven:

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Look how far we come. Our game this year had 13 players. Now there's… more than 13. Progress!

This was it! The last game of the season, last game of 2019! Homerton were the opposition. This was the game that decided whether we won Division 2 (although in hindsight, Homerton lost to Jesus the week before so it was very likely we were going to win regardless of what happened, but we didn’t know that). This is what all the hard work Emma rugby had put in was for.

After consistently having subs (or a sub), and the training every week, with sometimes half the team showing up, we felt that we deserved this. And we got it! We beat Homerton 19-15 in a very tight game, which demonstrated once again the value of having someone who can score conversions.

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Look at that perfect record!

So, in Michaelmas 2019, Emma rugby secured back-to-back promotions, which is admittedly going my original aim of having a series of articles following a less-successful sports team. If we carry on at this rate, Emma may actually become like the professional sports teams that I spent every article attacking for being soulless and detached from the sport, which would be awkward for me.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, Emma has to deal with Division 1, which actually represents a big step-up from Division 2. So much so, that we refused to accept the promotion.

Now this is a bit of a controversial move, but basically, we collectively realised that the teams in Division 1 are quite a bit better, and bigger, than us, and we didn’t fancy the prospect of getting thrashed and injured every week.

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It's not nice getting thrashed. We know from experience.

So it was Division 2 again for Emma in the new year, though we could always claim that we should technically be a Division 1 team, and that is something we can never lose. Something we can lose, however, is matches. Badly. And we weren’t feeling that.