2005 – 2006

Captain Robert Hoose; Vice-Captain Del Jones; Secretary James Barret

The year has been one of transition for the Rugby Club, having lost ten senior players. The inevitable relegation from the first division ensued in Michaelmas. In the first game against St Catherine’s the team produced an insipid performance, Queen’s losing 35-10. After this defeat, the team decided that a reignition of passion was necessary, and their hard work in training was rewarded by a sterling performance against perennial title-challengers St Peter’s. However, the cruel irony was that this effort would secure Queen’s fate in the league. A penalty to the good at half time, Queen’s were reduced to fourteen men by a concussion to Del Jones, and the loss of Jon Chetwood to an equally bad leg injury left Queens undermanned in key departments. The game was lost 24-3, despite a great performance from freshman Luke Jones, who produced many crunching tackles. This lost ‘battle’, however, resulted in Queen’s losing the ‘war’ against relegation, partly because D. Jones and Chetwood did not reappear in Michaelmas. Their absence exposed Queen’s weakness at the centre and the team struggled first in fulfilling fixtures, and secondly in getting results. Capitulation against Exeter (73-0) was followed by a similar whitewash in the game against St Edmund Hall, and though captain Hoose did his best to fill the inside centre channel in the absence of Chetwood, Queen’s were undeniably stretched, in the end losing by 70 points, despite an accomplished display by occasional full-back Paul Gorrie. By fifth week, Queen’s were struggling against injury to such an extent that, already resigned to relegation, they were forced to concede their final game in the first division with only twelve fit players.

Participating in the second division in Hilary Term has, in recent years, been successful for the Club. A battling performance from number eight, Jonathan Hazlehurst was little consolation in a 24-12 defeat against Oriel. Defeats followed against New and Keble. The only consolation in the league was a spirited 24-17 defeat of Worcester. Rugby League half-blue Simon Dewsbury, in one of his rare appearances this season, showed pace and power and Ankit Ruia gallantly filled in at full-back. Consequently, Queen’s will begin Michaelmas Term in the third division.

The Easter vacation saw a tour to the annual Doxbridge tournament, open to Durham, Cambridge and Oxford colleges. A strong Queen’s ten-a-side team beat St Aidan’s College, Durham, Homerton and Girton Colleges, Cambridge, and finished third. The format suited Queen’s pacey and skilful backs, marshalled impressively by fly-half Duncan Knox.

Queen’s then carried this resurgence into the sevens calendar. As a prelude to the college tournament at Iffley, Queen’s entered a team in the mixed touch sevens. For the second time in three years, the College emerged victorious, the victory sweetened by a winning try from Rachel Biles in extra time against St Edmund Hall. In the college tournament, Queen’s made their way through the group of Lincoln and Pembroke with ease, before resoundingly defeating St Anne’s in the quarter-finals. The back line of Jim Riddiford, Ian Ngai, Knox, Jones and Rasheed Zakaria showed pace aplenty. Unfortunately, the depth of the St Edmund Hall squad proved too much in the semi-finals, and Queen’s were defeated 24-12.

Time and again Queen’s were undone this season not by a lack of skill and commitment, but by a lack of numbers. It is to be hoped that next year’s freshmen will help rectify this. Meanwhile the Club’s thanks go to the leavers for their tireless efforts this season. Chetwood was as committed, brave and strong as any inside centre in college rugby and Gadd was, throughout his time with Queen’s, the rock of the scrum.