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All or nothing: Emmanuel college rugby team edition vol. 4

Could Emma carry their imperious form into the new year?

It would be difficult for Emma to do better than last term. Back-to-back division wins. 8 wins out of 9. A 6-game winning streak. We were playing some quality rugby, which made us the team to beat. With the other teams bound to come back stronger, it was unknown how Emma rubgy would react. To make things worse, by now the first article in this series was out, and the team had to make sure that the fame didn’t go to their head.

Week one:

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A picture of the glorious game being played at its finest.

Our first game back was against Jesus, who were a bit of an unknown entity to us since they forfeited the last game we were supposed to play and we never bothered to check the results of their other games.

It appeared though, on the other hand, that Jesus had researched us. We’re the first to admit that Emma is quite a forwards-heavy team. Jesus used their backs, and used them well, which is not something really done in college rugby. They were probably the first team we played that did so. This meant that our team was not exactly prepared to defend against it. We’re good at tackling – the simple stuff – but we aren’t the smartest in spreading out, which meant that there was a lot of times in the game where it would two or three of their players against our winger. As a winger, it was not an enjoyable experience. We lost 47-10.

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Case in point: The ball's loose on the wing, and chasing it are a lot of Jesus players and two Emma backs. And no, I can't explain what I'm doing.

We played better than the scoreline suggested. A lot of their tries came in flurries, which meant that a lot of the game was a much closer affair. But Jesus were the better team.

Week two:

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I like to think that no matter how high the level is, nobody ever looks like they know what's happening in a lineout.

The next game was against Girton and Pembroke. Emma beat them in Division 3 at the beginning of Michaelmas, but it was a close affair and they’ve clearly improved enough to get promoted from Division 3.

I’m going to be honest, I can’t remember a lot about this game. We played better than we did against Jesus, but I honestly can’t tell you how they played. To be fair, we play a lot of games, and we already played them, so I think I should be given some slack. All I can say that they must have been alright because they beat us 31-17.

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Even with the pictures I can't tell you much, but I can say that I have evidence of Emma scoring at least one try. Have Girton and Pembroke got any proof for their tries? Didn't think so…

So far it was two games, two losses for Emma, with our place in Division 2 under threat. At least there’ll be no controversy this term, as I don’t think we’re allowed to reject relegation.

Week three:

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How Emma was feeling following the first two games.

Our last game was against Homerton, who we beat in Division 2 last term, but only due to the strength of our kicker, winning on the basis of having more conversions. Kicking was once again an important factor, with the wind being incredibly strong (and this is before the storms, which appear in later matches). It would carry the ball so much further that if you were playing in the wind, it would be stupid to not make the most of it by kicking it, which ruined the spectacle of the game.

Frankly, we were at a disadvantage before the game started, due to how far away the pitches were. I know what you’re thinking: it’s only Homerton, stop complaining, everyone knows it far. But it’s not at Homerton though. They play at Shelford. It’s not even in Cambridge!

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Homerton's "home" pitches. For comparison I've marked out Homerton. We could have planned to leave earlier, but that's not the Emma way.

Some people (including me) would view the far distance of their pitches to be an intentional act of gamesmanship from Homerton. But I’m not salty, I promise.

With the wind and tiredness playing their part, a bit of a mess ensued with a lot of tries being scored and both teams scoring a try from the other team by making a hash of securing the ball from a kick. This made it tight for a lot of the game, but Homerton were able to make more of the wind, and when they were playing into it, the second half pulled away. Emma lost 43-32.

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At least we got the most bonus points, however they work.

To sum up Emma’s year then, we won Division 3, won Division 2, refused promotion into Division 1 (which surely proved to be the decision right by this term’s results), and got relegated from Division 2, which means that next year we’ll be back to playing in Division 3 again. You can’t say that we’re not entertaining.