All or Nothing: Emmanuel college rugby team edition vol. 5
Can Emma continue to bring their dazzling style to Cuppers?
The regular season is over, and during its course Emma had topped Division 3, topped Division 2, refused promotion to Division 1, and got relegated back to Division 3. It’s been difficult to know how good we really are, but at least we’re eventful, which is obviously the only thing that matters when you’re doing a documentary on a team. (Can you imagine staying in Division 1 all the time? Yawn. How boring!
But now Cuppers has arrived, which is what all the other games were in preparation for. It is the big one. The one that all the teams want to win, although that is not a fully accurate statement, because there are multiple trophies up for grabs, with the main cup, then the Plate, then the Shield, and so on. Who knows how many actually tiers there are because the common feature of Cuppers shared by all the teams is that nobody knows what is actually going on. You can lose and drop down into a lower tier at some points, at others if you lose then that’s it, and sometimes you can lose and carry on as the best loser. But I suppose that’s the magic of the Cup.
The round was the qualifier for the main cup, and we were playing Trinity and Christ’s. We have beaten them this year, but that was all the way back in the first week of Michaelmas so it’s unlikely that we would playing a similar team, especially if their season was even half as eventful as ours. However, our biggest challenge wasn’t the opposition but, in true Emma tradition, ourselves. There’s usually a break in the middle of term were there isn’t any games, and so people tend to plan to head home that weekend, meaning quite a bit of the team weren’t in Cambridge for the game. Myself included.
Fortunately, the loyalty of the team to Emma, and some… persuasion from our captain meant that we were able to get a full team, with even some subs.
And the determination to begin Cuppers with a good start motivated the team (or something. Who knows? I wasn’t there) and Emma came out with a very big win. It ended 38-5 to Emma, which was a great way to enter the main draw of Cuppers!
Our next experience of the Cuppers was not a friendly one. In fact, it couldn’t have been a harder opponent in Fitz. The team that infamously thrashed us 89-0 last year, which was by far the worst game I’ve played in during my three years at Emma. And they have only improved since last year, having won 8 of their 9 leagues matches and ended the season on a seven-game winning run, and back-to-back Division 1 titles. This meant that our main aim wasn’t to win, but to not lose 89-0 again.
That was not the only thing we had to face. That weekend, Storm Dennis decided to show up, and we were playing right in the middle of it. Any ball being kicked against the wind would come flying back at you; any ball kicked into the wind would be carried out. The rain made the ball very slippery, reducing the game to a battle of the forwards, which played to Emma’s strengths.
We did a lot better than last time. The game was an actual contest. We had the ball in their half for a lot of the game, but we failed to convert our chances. They did. That’s why they’re the best team in Cambridge I suppose. The game ended 36-0, but it was much closer than the scoreline suggested, and it was much much better than the loss last year.
We now dropped down to the quarter-final of the Cup (no, I don’t know how that works either). We had the chance to stay in the cup as best loser, but we would have to play another Division 1 team in Downing, and I think you can see the difference in quality between Division 1 and the rest when losing 36-0 was the closest game. So we kindly refused, and entered the Plate.
Both games had a similar margin in score, but we probably played better in the one we lost than the one we won. Rugby’s a funny old game. But we still have something to play, and so I still have something to write for you next term, as we follow what is surely the most entertaining season Emma rugby has ever had.
Photos: Lloyd Morgan- Instagram, Author’s own