Sunderland University rugby v HuddersfieldWith another BUCS season over and the University of Sunderland taking the Tees-Wear Varsity crown, it’s time to reflect on the how the season went for the Rugby men’s 1sts.

The men’s 1st team went into the season on the back of winning the league title and defeating Teesside at Varsity, so already there were big expectations on the side to have a successful run in the new season.

Indeed, this season’s captain, Daniel Gray, believes that this season has been disappointing in comparison to last year.

“It’s been a bit disappointing, especially after last year’s glory days. But there have been positives, more so toward the end of the season.”

The men’s 1sts started off the campaign with an away game to Huddersfield which would be the first test for the new freshers in a league game.

The game was won by Huddersfield with a 68-0 scoreline and Sunderland came away from their first game of the season with an away loss.

However, in their next game against Bradford at their home ground, Ashbrooke Sport Club, Sunderland narrowly edged a victory against the side with a margin of 23-20.

“My favourite part [of the season] was beating Bradford at the start of the season, especially because it was such a close game and everyone dug into find their last bit of energy,” said Gray.

The win against Bradford would go on to be Sunderland’s only win of the season, however, injuries and university commitments forced the Wearsiders to field sides of only 15 players, meaning the side could not afford any injuries in games as there were no replacements.

In addition, the side found it difficult to train as proper training facilities were not always available to the side due to weather conditions meaning the side was not able to focus training sessions on things such as technique or team cohesion.

The men’s 1sts ended the season relegated from the BUCS Rugby Union Northern 4B league with points of minus six.

When asked how things could have been better this season, Gray said: “I think having more opportunity to train, I think we had more games than training sessions or at least close to that anyway.

“We can’t ever perform well as a team if we don’t train together regularly.”

And Gray has offered his advice to next year’s committee.

“I’d say to just make it as inviting as possible to play rugby, but not to sack off uni completely. Me and the rest of this year’s committee have found we threw ourselves into rugby too much and uni suffered.”

However, this is not the last you have seen of Daniel Gray.

“I’ll definitely still be playing but will be taking more of a back seat in terms of socials and things, prioritising uni work.”