1stXV v Loughborough Students, Sat Jan 14, 14:15, Match Preview
Ampthill welcome Loughborough Students to Dillingham Park this Saturday for the first home fixture of 2017.
The history of rugby at Loughborough College began in 1919, by the 1930s rugby was the College’s major sport culminating in the 1stXV reaching the final of the Universities Athletic Union (UAU) cup in 1939 where they lost, narrowly, to Swansea.
Post war the UAU trophy was finally achieved in 1953 while the fixture list expanded making the College one of the leading clubs in the Midlands.
John Robins arrival as Coach in the early 1960s saw the fixture list expand further to include famous names such as Leicester, Gloucester and London Irish and dominance in University rugby with the UAU cup secured 6 times in 7 years.
Robins was followed by the legendary Jim Greenwood and this period saw the formation of the Loughborough Students club with yet more success both in the 7 man & 15 man versions of the game.
In 1996 the club took the then extraordinary step of joining the RFU league structure at the lowest level of the pyramid, however, this period was not the most successful in the club’s history despite successive promotions being secured in 2001/2002/2003. It took until 2005 before Loughborough secured another British Universities championship, fortunately the feat was repeated just a year later.
Promoted to level 4 (then National 3 North) in 2008 Loughborough, the first University side to reach the National Leagues finished 6th in their first season, were runners-up (and playoff losers) in their 2nd & 3rd seasons before securing promotion to level 3, National 1 in 2011/12 where they have remained ever since.
Since their first UAU victory in 1953 Loughborough Students have won 28 University Championships, roughly once every other year! Rugby alumni include such names as Gerald Davies, Colin MacFadyean, Dave Rollit, John Taylor, Clive Rees, Fran Cotton, Steve Smith, Clive Woodward & Andy Robinson.
As a University side, the club has been on the end of some ill-informed and frankly petty criticism regarding their funding, the National leagues are better off for the presence of Loughborough and Hartpury who have contributed to the rise in standards and thoroughly deserve their league status.
This season Loughborough have a played 17 won 8 record to lie 8th in the National 1 league table 3 places and 12 points below Ampthill. Last week they defeated Blaydon 52-34 (8 tries to 5) doing a remarkable double having beaten them 38-63 (6 tries to 8) earlier in the season.
Ampthill lost 14-12 in a tight game away at Darlington Mowden Park last weekend in a game either side could have won.
Forwards – Josh Walker (lock) and Ben Earl (flanker) return to the starting line up.
Backs – Will Goodge returns at inside centre with Sam Hanks moving from wing to partner him in mid-field. Jonny Morgan makes a return to the starting XV at wing.
Replacements – Chris Muncaster returns to the bench as front row cover where he is joined by Matt Burke recovered from the knock which kept him out last week. Ben Calder returns from the 1881s while Orisi Nawakaliva rotates.