Narrow defeat for UCL Women’s Rugby
So close yet so far.
It didn’t seem like a promising start when we got to Shenley late, to see the heavens opening up with snow, and to find out that our captain, coach and playing shirts were stuck in traffic. But after sharing some inspirational words, we were ready to give it all they had. After all, it was our final LUSL game this season, and the final UCLU game for many of the older girls.
We started the game in blue bibs, with a few of us playing in different positions, and the cold biting into our skin (why was it snowing in mid-March?!). It was our kick-off, but Imperial were quick to pass it down their line and we weren’t completely prepared against their physicality. With a few missed tackles and some breakdowns in rucking, Imperial successfully put in their first try.
However, the unconverted try did not dampen our spirits. Vice-captain Eleanor Trezise pumped us up, driving the determination for the next try to be ours, and it was. After kick-off, we won the ball back by spotting their gaps and pressuring them to make mistakes. The ball seemed to relentlessly be sucked into the abyss that is known as the ruck, reluctant to escape the warmth beneath the scrambling hands and boulder of bodies. However, with a great pass from Doris Chen who was playing scrum half, the ball was released from the ruck, passed down the back line beautifully, where Tonje Lyssand artfully stepped countless Imperial players and sprinted in a sensational arc to score our first try, equalising the game.
Imperial stepped up to our challenge with fierce aggression. They pushed us back to our defensive try line, where we gave everything we had into defence. Thrusting into the maul, jumping straight back to our feet after a tackle, stepping back in line and being on guard. However, Imperial spotted a gap in our defensive line and were able to slot in their second try which they converted.
The rest of the first half continued with both teams fighting with every ounce of energy to gain ground. The pitch was buzzing with energy despite both teams’ lack of subs. However, when opportunity arose, there was lack of support to offload the ball on both team’s part, and so the first half ended with the score standing at 5-12 to Imperial.
Second half started with numb legs and all feeling lost from toes (quite literally for Tonje), and a gracefully caught ball by Nosheen Kiyani from Imperial’s kick-off. Our first scrum was happily interrupted by the arrival of captain, coach and shirts. Woops of jubilation went round our side, we quickly donned our shirts, and our captain Jess Gregory was welcomed to our backline with relief. With some excellent passing and runs from both backs and forwards, we managed to gain significant ground, threatening the Imperial defence. Once again, the ball was passed from a ruck down the backline to Tonje, who pulled her signature move of stepping the opposition, sprinting down the pitch and scoring our second try, bringing the score to 10-12.
With the score so close, we were intent on scoring one more try and refusing to allow Imperial to break through our defence. Each side was fighting to the death. In the last 5 minutes, Imperial held us up on their defensive try line, refusing to let us crack through the last 2 metres to score the final and would-be winning try.
When the final whistle blew, the score still stood at 10-12. Undoubtedly, it was the best and hardest game we’ve played thus far in the LUSL league, and the last 5 minutes of the game really showed our passion for the sport as well as for each other. It was a tough defeat, being our final game and first loss, but it was an inspiration to the younger players to continue defending UCLUWRFC’s longstanding success.
Man of the match: Anthea Taderera for literally giving it all she had.
Wanker of the match: Anthea for the same reason (kept going despite destabilising her knee joint and straining all her muscles).