2008 – 2009

Captain: Jonty Strachan, Vice Captain: Luke Jones, Secretary: Patrick Wills

Rugby Football Report

The end of last season saw the loss of several key players and it was hoped that there would be an influx of good freshers in October. Despite persuading a few freshers of the intellectual superiority of rugby over rowing the number of new players was disappointingly small. Fortunately, some of the freshers were very talented.

The first game of the season was a fifty point nail-biter against Worcester. Queen’s dominated their opponents in a first half that contained two impressive tries from Alex Rowe, whose increased power showed that his hours in the gym had not been wasted. The College found itself in the position of not only having a complete front row which had the edge over its opponents but also a pack that remained strong throughout the whole match. It was appropriate that, after a beautiful piece of play during which the ball passed through ten pairs of hands, one of Queen’s stalwart forwards, Luke Jones, received the final pass and touched down under the posts. Queen’s early-season lack of fitness told in the second half and Worcester staged a comeback which brought the scores equal with ten minutes to go. Fresher Jack Davidson then showed a glimpse of the class which will stand the College in good stead in future seasons scoring a good try. James Thompson, who had had a disappointing kicking career as a fresher, finally found some form and landed a tricky conversion. However, in the final minute, Worcester went over near the posts, but the Worcester kicker was unable to match Thompson’s effort and missed the conversion, leaving Queen’s the winner by 26-24.

The College then suffered a disappointing 29-10 defeat to University College in a tough and physical match. This was followed by a low-scoring, yet eventful, game against Magdalen, labelled “Queen’s College Bloodbath” by the Oxford Student newspaper. One particularly abrasive tackle by “golden boy” Jonty Strachan led to his breaking his own jaw and the hearts of large swathes of the University’s female population. Later in the match James Thompson took a hefty tackle and left the field with a broken nose, whilst Tom Nash played on to the end of the match after suffering a nasty leg injury, which was later discovered to be a fracture. The match itself was another predominantly forward contest with both defences showing great determination. With their numbers depleted, Queen’s finished losers by a narrow margin.

With the loss of several key players, it was evidently difficult for Queen’s to field competitive sides in the last two games of the first half of the season. In the first, a scratch side produced an admirable performance in losing 29-10 to a strong Christ Church fifteen. The final match, against the combined forces of two of the largest Oxford Colleges, St. John’s and St. Anne’s, was to determine which team was to be relegated to the third division of the inter-collegiate league. The Queen’s side found itself 17-0 down at half-time but a rousing team talk brought new life to the team. Soon after the restart veteran Charlie Taylor rumbled over for a hard-earned try and pace-man Patrick Wills seared through the defensive line to put Queen’s back in contention. Finally, fresher Tom Davies, who had shown so much promise throughout the season and had already kicked two conversions, made a jinking run to score under the posts and secure a 21-17 victory.

Remaining in the second division for the second half of the season, Queen’s continued to struggle to field sides, which led to a string of disappointing results, a convincing win over Lady Margaret Hall by 26-5, in which Wills scored a hat-trick of tries, being the only consolation. Sadly this was not enough to prevent Queen’s being relegated.

In Cuppers, after a string of cancellations, Queen’s found itself in the Plate competition facing a strong Oriel side that boasted several University players. After fierce defence left Queen’s only one score behind at half-time, Oriel increased its pace in the second half. Queen’s scored a consolation try when the captain took a quick penalty and scored under the posts, converting the try himself with a drop-kick and Oriel ran out winners by 32-7.

During the Easter vacation the team once again toured in Dublin to compete in the annual Doxbridge tournament between Durham, Oxford and Cambridge Colleges. Queen’s were the holders of the trophy having defeated John Snow College from Durham, the holders for the previous five years, in last year’s final. The ten-man format suits Queen’s style of play and predators such as Ed Boyes, who missed all Queen’s league matches during the year because of his commitments to University teams, were able to trick their way past unwitting defences in some displays of exhibition rugby. The final was again against John Snow, whose disappointment in the previous year brought an extra edge to what was a very physical match which ended in a narrow victory for John Snow.

In Trinity Term Queen’s continued its record of success in the mixed Touch Rugby competition, this year ending runners-up to perennial rivals St. Edmund Hall.

A solid core of keen players remains in place and will no doubt return for the 2009-10 season prepared for a strong and enthusiastic attempt to achieve promotion.