Durham crowned BUCS Super Rugby champions


On Wednesday 26 February, Durham’s first XV defeated Leeds Beckett 24-14 in a closely fought battle to become BUCS Super Rugby League champions.

Scoring four tries to Leeds’ two, Durham dominated the match, particularly in the first half, to ensure victory.

Alex Keay’s team excelled on the day, exploding out of the blocks in the first half with early tries which ensured victory and the championship.

Durham’s sustained power in the breakdown and lineout, tactics used throughout the title race, provided crucial front-foot balls for the back line, and denied their opponents a foothold in the game.

The first try, scored by Nathan Wyman, was emblematic of this dominance; coming after multiple phases of drives which sucked in the Leeds Beckett defence and allowed Wyman to score.

The second try, and 10th for Ben Fowles this season, took the score to 12-0 after 20 minutes, a points difference that Leeds Beckett were ultimately unable to truly overcome. While Leeds Beckett scored six minutes later, Durham remained in control, securing another pushover try before half time to tighten their grip on the game, and put one hand on the trophy at 17-7.

Durham all but sealed the deal three minutes after half time with a bonus point try in the corner by Rory Stewart-Cox. A consolation try for Leeds Beckett 10 minutes before the final whistle could do little to prevent a Durham victory, as they ran out 24-14.

Whilst Fowles captained the team brilliantly, and Wyman controlled the game beautifully at number 10, man of the match was awarded to Josh Basham for his sustained impact on the game.

Winning the league before the end of the season is testament to this Durham team’s superb title challenge. Succeeding in the newly formed BUCS Super League, which consists of the 10 best university teams in the country, Wednesday’s game once again showcased the abilities of the men’s squad, and the standard of elite rugby at Durham University.

Keay, Durham’s coach, highlighted the “high standards” that the team and squad have consistently set this season as crucial to ensuring success.

Ultimately, the match was the culmination of a hugely successful season for the men’s 1s in which they have lost only two matches. The club now lead the league by nine points with a points difference of 254, 40 points more than that of their closest rivals, Exeter.

Taking the season “game by game”, in the words of captain Fowles, has allowed the team to excel at the highest level of university rugby.

Furthermore, the event’s support of Save the Children is testament to Durham University rugby’s ongoing charitable commitments.

By providing positive early life experiences for children, the charity seeks to ameliorate specific familial hardships in order to ensure healthy development.

Save the Children facilitates supportive learning environments for children at home and in schools as well as overcoming the barriers many parents face in providing for their children.

Alongside the result of the match, raising £520 for Save the Children meant Wednesday was a hugely succesful day for the Rugby Club and Team Durham.

The University Rugby club hope for more success in the league playoffs and the cup competitions. Certainly, rather than being the end of the season, the club is quickly moving on beyond this league success to ensure a high performance in both these competitions.

The team will compete in the quarter finals of the Cup at Durham City Rugby Football Club on Wednesday 18 March, and the match promises to be a fine sporting occasion with more top-class rugby on show.

Image: Durham University RFC

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