By Nick Friend:
The first event of the day saw Cuthle, a women’s rugby team comprising of Cuth’s and Castle students, take on Halifax in front of a very decent crowd, given the blustery winds that wreaked havoc throughout the day.
With York providing Team Durham with an ultimatum ahead of the women’s rugby fixture, there was a certain stench of farce about the Old Crumb as the game got underway.
York’s demands included reducing the numbers to seven-a-side and playing ‘touch’ instead of ‘contact’ rugby. All of this – outside of the control of Team Durham – presented York with the perfect opportunity to claim the first points of the day. Both the referee and the Durham side had been left just hours to brush up on their knowledge of watered down version of the sport.
When the game did get underway, predictably, it was Halifax who settled first, exploiting the explosive pace on their right-hand side to secure the first try of the game.
Another intriguing law was the implementation of an automatic turnover after the sixth phase of play. And it was through this regulation that Cuthle found a way back into the contest. With Halifax looking to force proceedings with just one phase remaining, an ambitious long pass was cut out by Hannah Davisson who raced through unchallenged to equalise.
With the momentum and almighty wind pushing the Durham side forward, captain Nikita Bangar jinked her way through a succession of visiting challenges to give her side the lead. The lead was short-lived, however, with Halifax levelling soon afterwards. In keeping with the game as a whole, the try came shrouded in controversy. With a touch constituting anything from a single fingernail on a strand of hair to a full-blooded dump tackle, Durham protested that the try-scorer had been tapped on her way to the line.
Although Cuthle regained the lead late in the half, confusion and frustration reigned in the final attack of the half when they were denied a try by the slightest of touches from the Halifax fullback.
After the interval, York’s greater experience began to show as they continued to feed their pacey winger with plenty of ball. With the breeze firmly behind her, the tactic paid off. The equalising try arrived soon after the restart, before a terrific move across the pitch saw York score in the corner to take the lead. Another try followed as Durham’s defence lost concentration. A late consolation gave the scoreline a fairer reflection of the game. It was Halifax, though, who took the spoils for their University.
Photograph: Kyle Wong