For the first time since 1997, University of St Andrews RFC won a Scottish Universities championship on Wednesday afternoon after defeating Glasgow 40-21 at University Park. Saints finish their season undefeated and on top of winning the Scottish Varsity Match against Edinburgh at the start of the year, climbing into the position of Scotland’s premier rugby team and now go into a BUCS Prem B playoff series in April.
Before the Christmas vacation, the Saints were top of the league following wins against Dundee, Stirling (twice), Glasgow, Aberdeen and Napier (twice), with Aberdeen away facing them as their first game to close out the league. Aberdeen University, the defending Scottish champions, have a sensational home record only losing 1 game in 6 years at King’s but this year’s University of St Andrews 1st XV are a different breed of player knowing how to win in difficult circumstances. Not only did The Saints win but they dominated with a 6-36 success which left the home side stunned and shocked. Tries from Tom Gold, Sean Murchie and Luke Turnbull and a stunning 8 from 8 100% kicking record from Danny Clink on top of a sensational defensive display from the forward pack gave Saints the win.
The title clinching match against Glasgow was a tense affair with the visitors playing some cracking rugby in response to Saints 15-0 half time lead, with tries by forwards Alasdair Pollock and Captain Jeremy Gordon who went over to score after some early dominance. Glasgow brought the score nail-bitingly level at 20-20 with only a quarter of the game to go but Saints rallied and focused their game to allow Jack Hannay to score twice. Tom Gold also added a score, picking a beautiful inside line for a 7pointer and a length of the field try as Sean Murchie beat five defenders from his own line to the half way line before firing an inch perfect pass to fullback Luke Turnbull to sprint in from 50m out.
Jubilant scenes from the whole club followed and the champagne flowed from the men on University Park who invented passing in the game of rugby union. Since 1858, the men of University of St Andrews have been proud of their history and tradition in the game and to add another league title to the impressive list of club honours is a huge achievement from the current crop of students.
The title is sweet success for a rugby program that has heavily invested in their development over recent years by appointing a full time Director of Rugby, as well as building an IRB approved rubbercrumb pitch which can be used all year round. With the Scottish Varsity Match against Edinburgh now being played annually in London, the world’s oldest university rugby match, Scottish Student rugby is on the rise and University of St Andrews provides the best rugby program in Scotland for young players to perform and develop.
Focus now turns to the BUCS Premier playoffs after Easter vacation but the club are delighted with the progress they have made. Attracting the best student athletes from across the world is the focus for the next few years to really allow the potential of this special club to flourish. More information can be found on www.saints-rugby.com