Loughborough Students v 1stXV, Sat Sep 24, 14:00, Match Preview
This Saturday Ampthill travel north on the M1 to Loughborough University.
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 3 won 2 record to lie 6th in the National 1 league table just 2 places and 1 point above Ampthill. Last week, a remarkable game at Blaydon saw them triumph 38-63 outscoring their hosts by 8 tries to 6!
Amps were well beaten at home last week by a Darlington Mowden Park side that ran in 4 second hald tries. Director of Rugby Mark Lavery & Head Coach Paul Turner have made multiple changes to the squad having made clear that the losing performance was unacceptable.
Forwards – Villiami Ma’asi starts at hooker with Aleki Lutui moving to tighthead while Nick Isiekwe (lock) & Ben Earl (blindside) both return from Aviva ‘A’ league activity with Saracens
Backs – Kevin Barrett comes in at scrum half with Stef Jones moving to outside half, Pete Weightman makes his debut on the wing while Karim Lynch returns at full back.
Replacements – James Fish returns from Aviva ‘A’ league duty with Saints while Matthew Collins rotates to the bench along with Joe Tarrant.