There was electricity in the air as KCL met the Godless Scum of UCL in the culmination of the 2017 London Varsity Series at Allianz Park. The booze was flowing, the crowd was raucous, and the weather had taken a turn for the worse, setting the stage for what would prove to be a thrilling match. KCL ran out in front of thousands of fans eager for a thrilling match and a glimpse of fly half George Beal’s aesthetic wrist tape. In both respects, they were rewarded.
The two teams traded blows for much of the first half and were dead even in open play and set pieces alike. For every line break that KCL enjoyed, UCL responded with relentless pressure on defense and well-placed clearance kicks. UCL would strike first, capitalizing on a KCL penalty to slot a goal between the posts. The Godless Scum would tack on a try in the far corner before the half expired, leaving the score at 8-0 at halftime. Penalties would prove costly for King’s, as the boys would eventually go down 11-0 before beginning a furious comeback. Just a short while after UCL scored their second penalty goal of the night, Welshman Owen Hughes responded with a cracker of a try in the far corner to make it 11-5. With UCL responding with a try of their own after, the pressure was now on KCL to make something happen.
Despite a late try from Social Secretary Extraordinaire Jack Hall and a last-minute push from the boys in red, the Godless Scum of UCL proved to be too much. Final score, 16 UCL – 10 KCL, producing a feeling akin to what I experienced upon waking up the morning after Election Day 2016. King’s was left to look on as the UCL stand emptied onto the pitch, but made sure to thank the KCL faithful and get some high-quality profile pictures in their varsity kits. The boys returned to their makeshift changing room and were greeted by a belligerent 2nds captain Finbar Tilford, a welcome sight for those who had just left their hearts on the field. Any hard feelings from the loss were quickly dispelled, as the night ahead promised champagne showers and endless pints.
In spite of the loss, optimism could be found among the KCL squad. Strong rugby was played throughout the match, and though the loss was cutting, it provided ample motivation for 1st and 2nd year boys to take into next year’s Varsity match. As for the 3rd years, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. KCL will look to build on the positives in their final match of the year against the medics of GKT in the Macadam Cup.
The Dutch football team of the past have been said to play ‘total football’, the past and present members of KCLRFC played what can only be described as ‘total rugby’ at the Rob Tagg memorial game of 2017. A fierce line-up of first, second and third team players took to the field to face their older, and far less fit counterparts.
A moment of silence marked the start of a game of 4 quarters. The first of those quarters went in favour of the old boys, who ran in 3 early, break out tries. A boozy break ensued with a worrying number of old boys complaining of cramps, aches and niggles, apparently 4 quarters would’ve made it easier to get through 80 minutes… The second quarter was far more even as the club battled back through the twinkle toes of resident IRA member Greg O’Meara, a number 8 turned winger, who went over for a fantastic finish in the corner after some silky hands from the KCL backs spotting space on the wing.
The second half was where the comeback began, with scrum-half turned number 8 Josh jones showing his wheels to score a hat-trick of tries, the pick of which being a pick and go from the back of the scrum from 40 yards. Old boys prop Tom Carvill weathered the storm, barraging his way across the line for a brace, to many jeers about his portly stature as the crowd got increasingly boozy thanks to our friends at Phox & Co. The shit chat from the sidelines grew in volume and got even worse as the game progressed and became more intense. With 5 minutes to go and the score at 44-29 to the old boys, KCLRFC rallied to score two end to end tries from Josh Jones and then Nandos XSpicy Pedro, arguably the pick of the tries to take the score to 44-41. The game then ended amid controversy, the current members calling for a minute more of play, alas it was not meant to be, the referee calling it a day (worth mentioning he was an old boy).
A great game of rugby ended with a fitting victory to the old boys in memory of Rob Tagg and in typical KCLRFC tradition, to the bar, to waterfront, and to walkabout. Once again, a big thanks to Phox & Co. for all the booze at almost reasonable prices, and to the old boys for coming down and sparing us a frightening check of the bank balances on Sunday.
Yours in endless optimism for the rest of the season,
It has been a year of transition for the club. The 1 st XV have been faced with the daunting task of BUCS South A Rugby, its highest ever level, taking on the likes of Cardiff 1s and Bristol 1s. The 2 nd XV have also been promoted to BUCS South East 3B where they have been competing against several 1 st XVs in the region. The 3 rd XV has also been consolidating themselves in the BUCS Leagues, consistently fulfilling their fixtures and improving upon each of their previous performances. We have also been lucky enough to retain Grasshopper RFC for Monday night training, which has enabled us to continue using the three floodlit pitches they have on offer. In addition, we have been able to provide several players to them for Saturday fixtures and hope to continue this mutually beneficial arrangement long into the future. The committee has also been tasked with retaining the social traditions of the club in some less than ideal circumstances. The removal of the bar at Berrylands was a real shame and I am sure I speak for us all in saying that it will be remembered fondly. A special mention must go to our social secretaries Greg O’Meara and Jack Hall for making Fresher Drinks Part I and II a success in spite of the fact these moved away from Berrylands. Furthermore, in spite of the fact that KCLSU has had a particularly close eye on the club as a whole, it has been fantastic to see all club members remaining undeterred and retaining the offfield values of the KCLRFC. Finally a special mention must go to our kit sponsors for this year. With Western Union unable to continue their sponsorship of the club, we were able to secure a new deal with ADL Drywall Systems for 1 st XV kit sponsorship as well as sponsorship of the club kit. It was also fantastic to retain PhOx & Co as kit sponsor and retain a key link with the Rugby Alumni.
1st XV Report
The end of the first term sees the close of an interesting start to the 2016/17 for KCLRFC 1st XV - A season marred by horrendous luck, tremendous determination and one too many trips over the border to Wales. I could go on an explain in depth every game we have played this season and analyse why it is that we have fallen short on each occasion, but the simple answer is that we are just too good and we let the opposition win on purpose. All joking aside, we are simply a very determined and talented group of players who have had a hard time adapting to a league fit for university 1st teams with resources and facilities on a scale well beyond our own. Although the changes being brought into the club are helping create a more professional environment, the substantial improvements needed on and off the pitch may take some time to implement and adapt to given the head start others in the league have had. Beginning the season with a 14-man injury roster was never going to be the makings of a Leicester style underdog season, but we didn't let that stop us from pressing forward with the job at hand. Even given this, King's 1st XV have week in week out produced some inspiring and scintillating rugby which in my opinion has not yielded the results it deserves. Our defensive efforts this season against some of the country’s top university opposition - including the likes of Bristol and Cardiff 1st XV's -has been something that everyone associated with the club can be proud of – the never say die attitude shown by every player that has put on the 1st XV jersey so far this season has been a credit to everyone who has gone before us. We will regroup, eat well, drink lots and recover over the festive season and return with a nearly fully fit squad (we might even have a front row) ready to press onwards towards our season goals; cementing our place in BUCS Premiership A, destroying those Guy's campus fairies and obliterating the godless scum up the road who will be losing Varsity for the 4th year in a row. Yours in cautious optimism , Matthew James Radley.
2nd XV Report
Having joined the seconds a little tardily, I have slotted in under Jordoniums leadership. A strong leader leading an even stronger team. With Blaise as a very questionable yet confident nine (putting the ball in the wrong side of the scrum... on more than one occasion), we knew we’d be a force to be reckoned with this season. As is the case with the rest of KCLRFC we may not have the points or the ‘Ws’ to prove this, yet our (blind) confidence has not been dented. With Logan as top chopper of the term and Nathan resisting the urge to storm the pitch on multiple occasions, the highlight of the term was undoubtedly Ray Mears’s red card catastrophe. Now whilst this is a controversial topic, I think we should all just ‘’get back’’. Win or loose however we remain an outstanding bunch of chaps proud to pull on the King’s jersey. Yours in rugger, Seb Silicon
3rd XV Report
The Third XV with Bopper the leader and us the humble disciples, started the year with a mixture of eagerness to learn and a French-English dictionary, above all else a willingness to attend every walkabout. Starting the season with a “Just run forward” approach we have formed into a team that can now pass… and catch the ball. As the games went by we bettered the previous week’s performance, our progress aided by a cameo appearance by Blaise-El Presidente, as coach. Although the scores may not reflect our improvements, Glasmacher’s try saving tackles and Dylan Watson’s solid step, nothing can deny our ability to sesh! Yours in rugger, Seb Silicon (Again)
Rob Tagg - Saturday 4th Febuary - Berrylands
This is one of, if not the biggest day of the season for the club as we take on the Old Boys in memory of Rob Tagg, a KCLRFC player who sadly passed away in 1999 after sustaining a serious injury. It's a great opportunity to meet the Old Boys, many of whom are highly successful, and experience the wondrous Saturday Walkabout. Attendance is compulsory so clear your calendars and get yourselves down for a riproaring good time.
Varsity - Friday 17th March - Allianz Park
Get down to Allianz Park the home of Saracens where the chaps will be putting the godless enemy scum to the sword for the 4th consecutive year!
Macadam Cup - 22nd March Honour Oak Park
In the wake of the presidential election result KCL were feeling optimistic that they too, could cause an upset as the headed to challenge the table topping Bristol 1s. The dull feeling from the four-hour coach journey was overcome by an intense and focused warm up, in which Campaign Manager Mathew Radley fired up the KCL boys who were keen to trump Bristol.
The late kick off meant the drama of the game unfolded under flood lights. From the start, the match was fast paced thanks to the 3G playing surface and the energy from both teams. KCL’s strong start led to them dominating territory. However, Bristol managed to sneak a few trys due to them capitalising on KCL’s mistakes. King’s attack was penetrating at times, leading to many line breaks during the match. Nonetheless, the great wall of Bristol’s defence stood strong enough to survive the waves of KCL migrants trying to reach their goal line. With a controversial disallowed try against KCL, and William John executing a perfect penalty kick, the first half ended 22-3 to Bristol.
With KCL growing into the game with better retention of possession from more fluid phases of play, the second half was a far tighter contest between the two sides. King’s ratings in the polls increased as they put even more pressure on Bristol from their strong set piece. An improving scrum and dominant line out gave a good platform for KCL to continue a positive second half performance. With Bristol only managing to land a couple tries leaving the score of the second half at an improved 10-0 to Bristol.
The end result of the contest was 32-3 votes to Bristol. Despite the outcome the were many positives to take away from the match. With cohesion growing and momentum building in the team, maybe KCL should wait till next week to make themselves great again.
KCL arrived at Berrylands for this game with great morale and high confidence. This resulted in a sharp warm up and a solid start on the kick off, in which KCL were immediately up in Hartpury’s faces. Doubt the opposition saw that coming. While Hartpury proved to have a strong attack, KCL clearly showed that they had just as strong of an attack and an even stronger defence, keeping the match played in the opposition’s half during the opening minutes of the match. No doubt that this was a solid start for KCL. Despite the effectiveness of KCL’s defence, Hartpury began playing out wide, leading to their first try against KCL. This was followed by another try for the opposition shortly afterwards, in which they scored from a pick and go just off the try line, though KCL had shown that they were a force to be reckoned with when it came to defending off the rucks. The ABC defence play had clearly sunk in. Despite the opposition’s lead, KCL remained strong, maintaining the same level of intensity that they had walked onto the pitch with and keeping their heads high. This was evident in the play that followed, in which a number of line breaks were made as a result of the interplay between the forwards and backs, leading to a significant amount of ground being made and KCL getting back in the opposition’s half. However, a few missed tackles and KCL being too drawn in led to Hartpury scoring several more tries, giving them a good lead at half time.
Despite the score, KCL went into the second half with even more intensity and determination than they had in the first half. Due to several injuries, both teams were forced down to 13 men, leaving the scrums uncontested. This provided KCL with an advantage against Hartpury, who had proved to have a very strong pack. KCL’s determination was evident in the way that they continued to punch holes in the opposition’s defence, as well as their increased discipline in their own defence. This kept the match firmly in the opposition’s half, bringing KCL closer and closer to scoring. Though KCL showed great spirit, Hartpury continued to play the ball out wide and make ground, leading to several more tries against KCL. This resulted in the overall score being 50-0 to Hartpury, though it is not to say that KCL made it easy for them.
The score may have been disappointing, but there were a lot of positives that could be taken from the match. Every player put in a strong performance, and the team as a whole never lost their determination, keeping their heads high and maintaining a strong attitude. A huge thank you to all those who were involved, as well as those who were injured and came down to show their support. Let us all recover and ensure that KCL continues to play with the same attitude that they had during this match, as well as achieve a better score.
KCL arrived at the University of South Wales (USW) with something to prove on the back of a disappointing loss to Swansea the week before. A soggy pitch and a plethora of injured players in vital positions foreshadowed a gloomy afternoon for KCL. However, a sharp warm up set the team up for a solid start, taking 3 points early on. With the University of South Wales possessing the larger pack that day; they got the first try through a driving lineout on the KCL five metre line. But, KCL started to play in the wider channels, punching holes through their defences and making deep inroads into the opposition’s 22. KCL’s first try came through George Beal who slipped through a tackle and sneaked under the posts for a 7-pointer. After several great periods of smooth interplay between backs and forwards, simple errors and silly penalties drive KCL away from University of South Wales’ line and back into their 22. After going a man down with less than 10 minutes to go until the half, KCL were put under the cosh and nothingshort of a heroic display of bravery and grit kept the opposition out for the rest of the half. In addition to this, KCL got a breakaway try through the gazelle-like winger Gus scoring in the corner in the final play of the half. Half time 15-7 to KCL.
KCL went into the second half positively but after receiving again more injuries the defence began to splinter. Nevertheless KCL battled on and the only way USW went over the KCL line was through the set piece. KCL came within touching distance of the USW try line through flawless offloading play. Nonetheless, a questionable decision from the referee gave USW the opportunity to clean their line. Even after strong displays from the replacements it was too late, with USW scoring their tries late on to give a final score of 29-15 in the favour of USW.
Many positives can be taken out of the game with strong performances from every player. A speedy recovery is wished to those lads who took knocks in the match and a huge thanks goes to Blaise who stepped up as coach in our time of need.
Kings started very well with a prolonged period of possession in Swansea's half, but after tough defense from Swansea, kingssettled for a penalty and took the 3 points. After some avoidable penalties, KCL were pinned back in their own half, and with a powerful pack, Swansea managed to get over the try line by mauling from a 5 m lineout.
KCL had many good opportunities to put pressure on Swansea, but a lack of control of the KCL pack meant KCL lost 5 out of 7lineouts giving Swansea more ball to play with which ended with them scoring 2 more mauls in the first half.
Some anger from the KCL caused some penalties to be given against them allowing Swansea to once again enter our 22m, which ended with them scoring again before half time.
The 2nd was much more controlled from KCL, as there were more line breaks showing better discipline in defence and attack, and one very good scoring opportunity wasn’t taken. KCL showed great spirit as Swansea only managed to score once of a maul in the second half
On the 5th of October the KCL first team travelled down south to face Exeter for the first competitive game of the season. After an encouraging win on the weekend against the alumni, the boys were hoping to build on their momentum and carry on the positive start to the season. Despite the Exeter supporters creating a hostile environment, the opening quarter saw good offensive and defensive spells for both sides, and after twenty minutes the deadlock had still not been broken. As the intensity grew, spaces began to appear and Exeter started to build a lead, but accurate kicking from Barney Meadowcroft and an explosive try by Sam Ridgway kept KCL withintwo scores at half time.
The second half began similar to the first, with KCL displaying passion in defence whilst still offering a threat in attack, and at about the 50 minute mark Gus Thomas capitalised on an Exeter mistake forced by strong KCL defence and ran in a try under the posts, reducing Exeter’s lead to just one point.
Exeter responded effectively and managed to score soon after the restart, killing KCL’s momentum. Exeter’s impressive organisation, discipline and individual class then began to show, running in a series of tries putting the game out of reach despite the best defensive efforts of KCL. A series of injuries to key players including Barney did little to help the cause and Exeter eventually came away with the victory. Nonetheless the KCL boys provided some excellent passages of play against a very impressive Exeter side, a positive sign for the rest of the season.