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‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’: Meeting Edinburgh’s Varsity-winning rugby team

Meet the team that fought its way to victory

This past weekend marked the end of a six-week training period for the University of Edinburgh’s rugby team. The Scottish Varsity Match, always advertised as an "ancient rivalry" between Edinburgh and St. Andrews, has been a yearly tradition that predates the annual game between Cambridge and Oxford. For those of us in the stands, it’s a chance to get absolutely smashed and sing along to some of the very creative chants created by that one group of guys at the back of the stands. But what about those who are on the field?

Meet this year’s Varsity rugby team.

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Unlike the team last year, second-year players dominated the playing field, with only eight players carrying Varsity match experience. Some may see it as a gamble, but others see it as an investment for the future. Captain Ed Russell, a second-year himself, says that while it may be sad to see last year’s players leave, they were able to approach the game with a “new dynamic” and a “fresh team". Additionally, while some may find the placement of the Varsity game at the beginning of the season peculiar, Ed believes it's actually an advantage.

“It’s a huge motivation for pre-season. Now we can focus on the [upcoming] season because Varsity has been put to bed” he told The Tab.

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Still, with so many eyes on them, many must have been feeling the pressure of winning their debut Varsity match. However, Ed states that this pressure was definitely outweighed by the team's perseverance towards their ultimate goal: winning Varsity. "Pressure is healthy, and we know not to get complacent or overconfident. It's not the better team on paper that wins, it's the team that brings the most on the day".

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The coaches and captain Ed Russell after the game

Despite the young team, the game was interesting this year. This match started off with that sort of "Edinburgh’s going to win, easy game" feel, but ended with pride as the team pulled through, despite the unbelievable number of injuries this year. After the two centres were taken off the pitch (one being brought off on a stretcher), the injuries and substitution only seemed to be beginning. Soon, the rugby team was playing as a team that had actually never prepped to play together. Yet, despite being slightly more inexperienced than the St. Andrews team, they pulled through and got the job done. The final score of 26-15, where Edinburgh came out on top, was definitely the result of much hard work on the field.

The game was clearly tough, but the team powered through and achieved a well-deserved win that was fully celebrated later that night at Atik. Even the guy who was carried off on the stretcher made it.

Moral of the story: Nothing stops the rugby boys from getting that passionfruit VK.

Many thanks to Ed Russell and Adam Causer for their contribution to this article.

Picture credit: Ryan McCuaig, photographer for the Edinburgh Sports Union