Loughborough Students v 1stXV, Sat Feb 20, 2016, Kick Off 14:00, Match Preview
Ampthill travel to Loughborough University this Saturday for the reverse fixture having secured a narrow win, 21-19, back in November at Dillingham Park.
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 21 won 6 record to lie 12th in the National 1 league table just 2 places and 2 points above the relegation zone. Their last six games have seen one victory, a run which has seen the gap between them and the teams below narrow.
Ampthill recorded the double over Wharfedale last week but only after the visitors gave Amps a fright, down 28-12 at half time and 35-19 with 15 minutes to play they took advantage of A’s indiscipline to score two tries leaving the home support to chew their nails for the last 5 minutes. Head Coach Paul Turner will not under estimate the challenge that the Students represent, especially playing on their 3G artificial surface.
Changes to last week’s squad
Forwards – Villiami Ma’asi starts at hooker with Aleki Lutui moving to tighthead
Backs – Gavin Williams returns at scrumhalf
Replacements – Ralph Adams-Hale returns from England U20 duty, Matthew Collins rotates to the bench, Sydney Blackmore provides back row cover and William Goodge returns via the 1881s following injury recovery