A very rainy day for our first BUCS game of the season and an unpleasant referee surprise (!).
Right from the start of the game, the strong Surrey defense proved a greater challenge than in our previous matches. That being said, we had ball possession and were in their half through the entire first half, but could not get the ball over the try line despite multiple runs. Try line defense from Surrey was really strong, reminiscent of our own at the UCL December game last year and we really couldn't get the ball through, neither by forwards or back line, where their borderline illegal tackles sent our players off the pitch.
This definitely was a forwards game, as Surrey's defense neutralised our back line and prevented us from shipping the ball wide, often making the play stand still. Finally, a quick off-load and great run from Amy C. concluded the first half with our try, 5-0.
KCL's frustration was evident at the beginning of second half, where Surrey requested uncontested scrums, taking away one of our greatest advantages. After a line break through our inferior defense, Surrey set the score 5-7 after 5 minutes.
Another score later on made us pick up our game and we made it to their try line by forwards balls. By this point, the ref had given approximately 10-15 penalties to Surrey's appalling technique in rucking, tackling and offsides. Supporters on the sideline were shocked by the ref's and opposing coach's forgiveness as penalty after penalty meant no cards and the lack of technical direction from the latter. We made 40 metres of the pitch simply by penalty after penalty, finally resulting in two yellow cards and a try and conversion to us, though these were only given after insistence on our part.
At the very end of the game, our team was tired, physically and mentally after circa 25 penalty runs and an exhausting ref. Another line break by Surrey meant that we had to grant them the bitter victory, powered through by their snappy full-back.
The game was scrappy and brutal and the result did not go our way due to poor refereeing and dirty play. But granted, KCL did have an off day and the blame cannot be put entirely on external circumstances as the Surrey tries could have, would have and should have been prevented.
A humbling day for KCL and a lot to work on for our away game to Brighton next week.
Tries: Amy C. (1), 1 penalty try
Conversions: Liz (1)
Opposition's Player of the Match: Liz
Forward of the Match: Philippa
Back of the Match: Helena (nom. by Claire)
Dick(s) of the Day: Emma and Emma for, despite the whistle blowing, doing a massive run towards the try line, ready to score.
The first LUSL league game of the season was against our Gower Street nemesis, UCL (affectionately known as 'the Godless Scum'). With our multiple injuries and smaller squad than at Brunel, it was a very nervous media sec who saw the team warm up on our home grounds. Both squads had a lot to prove - UCL having never lost to us before and we needed to avenge the frustrating 10-7 Varsity result.
The game was mostly characterised by an excessive amount of scrums, as both teams were jumpy and prone to make mistakes. When the first scrum was ready for UCL input, our forwards had an impressive push that completely blew opposition away and gained the ball. By the next scrum, the media sec thought UCL would have by now realised the sheer woman power emitting from KCL and have stepped up their scrum game. Alas, no, and they were swiftly obliterated. Out of the 18 scrums altogether, we won 14 (7 of which were UCL's) and only lost 4 (arguably due to the 1.5 metre law... ARGH!).
After the first ten minutes we saw the fruits of our labour as we made it to their try line. A quick pass from Helena out of the ruck to wing Emma came close, but was tackled, while Georgina swiftly made the final effort to push it over the line. An excellent team try and sharp and quick intuition from our fresher wing! The cooperative play was repeated throughout the game, where offloads and quick out-of-the-ruck balls prevented us from staying at UCL try line for long without sneaking a try in somewhere.
As the forwards had an extremely strong game (carrying on from last year), our back line had the space and opportunity to really excel (all European from 10 to 14 - coincidence? I THINK NOT!). Camille (12) deserves special mention as she had a great game: powering through the defense, handing people off and not stopping until a full-back and 5 others had finally dragged her down. Another very positive attribute was how our extensive rucking training really has paid off. We secured own balls, even gained UCL ones, and were creative and quick in reorganising and shipping the ball out.
By half-time, the score was thus 17-12 and we were over the moon.
In second half, we stayed in the UCL half most of the time, trying to make line breaks and hammer through. Risky off-loads were fewer and the back line utilised their space by shipping the ball to outside centres and wings and shifting the play. Jas came on as scrum-half for an injured Helena, who was carried off the pitch by our heroic coach (see pic below). This allowed for 8-pick-ups after scrums, lead by a forceful Helen as a stable ball-carrier.
For us, the scoreline should have been more in our favour, as the UCL tries were scored due to lack of defense and someone making a line break which we couldn't chase down. It is frustrating when the conclusion after matches is again: 'defense, defense, defense'. But hopefully, as the season moves on we'll pay more attention to and strengthen our weaknesses. On the other hand, I have to point out that UCL tries weren't due to good play on their behalf while ours were solid team efforts. At the end of the day, it was clear who had been dominating the pitch.
After the game, multiple cakes were distributed to the entire squad (courtesy of Helen, Katie, Lynn and family). As always when we play UCL, our audience of family and alumni are a huge and valued support. Thanks for coming out to this very memorable day!
Tries: Helena (1), Georgina (2), Lynn (2)
Conversions: Liz (2)
Opposition's Player of the Match: Camille aka. female Mathieu Bastereaud
Forward of the Match: Helen
Back of the Match: Ana
Dick of the Day: Lynn (for being the first captain to ever beat UCL)
Our next friendly was on Initiation day and it was great to begin the night on a high with our friendly win against Brunel University, who play in our BUCS league as well. Turn-out was great again as we had 28 available players as well as great support on the sideline (Teary-eyed coach: 'If only you could turn up to training to!'). As the dutiful media sec is injured after amazing tackling on Sunday, we took plenty of photos for the occasion.
Brunel had an early advantage as they scored after only few minutes, marking the point that our defense needs to become more organised and consistent. We really stepped up our game afterwards and kept the tries coming, characterised by a solid team effort which brought the ball slowly, but confidently towards the try line. We had five different try scorers ranging from prop to centre to scrum-half, which really emphasises how everyone stepped up their game and were eager and creative with playing the ball.
Brunel held the ball up on three occassions when we crossed their line and we really must give them that their defense was less patchy than ours. Rucking was at our advantage, though, mostly because Brunel didn't counter-ruck, but this meant that the ball was quickly and easily distributed and everyone made metres. Tackles were getting better, lower and harder and it was only once in the second quarter that Brunel got away from our TSTs (try-saving-tackles).
Our scrum worked really well together compared to Sunday and it's easy to see how people are getting more comfortable with their positions and ball-carrying. Training pays off, girls!
Special mention goes to Liz for scoring a conversion and not hitting Claire's head, to Camille for being awesome as new centre and to all the amazing supporters on the sideline!
Tries: Camille (1), Liz O. (1), Lynn (1), Helena W. (1), Alice (1)
Conversions: Liz O. (1)
Opposition's Player of the Match: Claire
Forward of the Match: Helen
Back of the Match: Camille
Dick of the Day: Liz O. (again? Really?) for bringing absolutely shredded boots and no shorts.
Arguably the major highlight of the term is the annual initiation of our new members! This ancient ritual of loyalty, respect and enormous fun was even greater this year as we initiated the biggest bunch of Freshers EVER and we are so happy to be welcoming you all into the KCLWRFC family. Arranged in total secrecy by dutiful social sec Liz O., the theme was ready: Heaven to Hell! Our pure younglings were equipped with white t shirts and matching halos and wings, while old girls were sneaky little devils. As the night moved on, we went through the seven deadly sins and watched as the virtuous and once promising young ladies corrupted themselves in gluttony, pride, envy and so on. Shout-out to old girl Claire aka. Moses who received special treatment in the shape of 10 commandments as reward for being an old newbie as she wasn't initiated last year.
Mothers gave birth to their rugby daughters and here are the happy outcomes:
Amy C: Charlotte and Jas
Camille: Ally and Hanna
Katie: Claire and Lucy
Amy S: Mermaid and Lauren
Celina: Bethan and Helena C
Helena W: Kendal and Emma H
Ana: Diane and Emma V
Liz O: Helen and Ellie
This year, we have had big focus on giving our players pre-season experience and connect it effectively with training sessions in order to learn better and faster and see where improvement can be put. We've had a great relationship with Hammersmith and Fulham and done pre-season with them in the summer, so on Sunday, we played the 2nds team at their Putney home ground.
As Hammersmith needed players and we were bountiful (AMAZING turn-out, girls, let's keep it up), we lent some of our second row, so they had the chance to play as well and gain valuable experience.
Our second game of the season kicked off with a truly appalling attempt at kicking off from Helena, however this was soon rectified with an early try for King's scored by scrum-half Celina after some smashing forwards ball (pun intended). The first quarter (we played 3x20mins) went swimmingly with the new back line crashing it up, and fairly quickly King's snuck another try into the corner, grounded by Liz Osborne. As the first half wore on, our defence proved solid and Hammersmith were pushed right back off our try line, aided by a surprising kick from Alice (who says forwards can't kick?). Hammersmith's low numbers meant seeing a few of our girls in their blue hawaii shirts, proving to be entertaining when it came to making some tackles...
However, through the accumulation of several injuries amongst the old girls on the team and as Hammersmiths pre-season advantage became apparent, our early lead was taken away. With a lot of subbing and playing out of position in the second half, the game became more difficult, especially in the now relatively inexperienced scrums. With some cheeky chipping and turning over of the ball, Hammersmith drew even with us, though not without some cracking tackles put in by the freshers. As the scrum kept changing, it evantually went down to uncontested, and Hammersmith put another try past us. The game ended with an almost entirely freshers team on the pitch, and a truly terrible dick of the day by Liz.
All in all, it was a great effort by everyone, especially those who found themselves in completely new positions.
Thanks to Hammersmith & Fulham for having us and for treating us to chili afterwards (AWESOME).
- by Celina and Helena
Tries: Celina (1), Liz O. (1)
Back of the Match: Diane Laciu
Forward of the Match: Jessica Fear
Dick of the Day: Liz O. for stopping mid-tackle because the whistle had blown on the neighbouring pitch.
The annual Alumni game is always one of the most fun event of the year where our old girls rejoin us for one match – as the opposition! This year at Honor Oak Park the weather was particularly awful, but spirits were high as our new freshers were eager to play and both teams were excited to be catch up after a long summer.
Because of the lack of alumni forwards, scrums had to be uncontested, which was unfortunately in Alumni favour as our scrum is definitely one of our biggest attributes. On the up side, this saved the forwards energy for tackling and defence, which after a sloppy start really became more organised with tackles going lower and hits getting bigger. Particularly our freshers showed commitment and determination as they thrust themselves into what for most of them was their first real taste of the game.
Our practically new back line with Jas as 12 and a vocal Claire as 10 showed great potential for development with their confidence and dare and helped in defence as much as forwards. They definitely laid the groundwork for moving into more advanced passing and moves in the future. Old girls continuously supported and directed, which was a great factor in our improved play. Once again: rugby is learning by doing! We saw this particularly when we only were penalised twice, which is really impressive considering the experience of the team. The same can’t be said about the alumni girls (looking at you, Sara Eskola) who awarded us many metres of free play throughout the match.
Unfortunately, we could not keep up with the long legs of ex-president Lilly and the experience of our alumni who have played together for so many years. In the end, we had to grant them a win, but not without mutual feelings of pride and respect.
After the post-game cheer, we all gathered around for the awarding of the very first Joanne Smith Award for Dedication, Selflessness and Adversity in memory of alumni Alice and Emily Smith’s mother Joanne who passed away this summer. The award was presented to current captain Lynn Januszewski. Joanne was an immensely loved part of the team and her support and kindness will continue to be part of the KCLWRFC spirit.
Finally, thanks for coming out to play a great game, whether you were fresher, senior, alumni or ‘old girl’!
Result: Currently unsure, but a lot of alumni tries (if anyone knows, please message Celina)
Forward of the match: Helen
Back of the match: Jasmine
Joanne Smith Award for Dedication, Selflessness and Adversity: Lynn
Less words, more pics?
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