Rugby ready for Varsity centrepiece
League aim to break the Varsity jinx Isaac Leigh talks to president Rich Phillips, who believes it could finally be the year for Warwick to win the Varsity Rugby League clash
A » Warwick’s Rugby League and Union hopefuls ahead of their Varsity clashes at Butts Park Arena photo: Warwick Sport
First team captain Richard Newman talks to co-Sport editor Alex Russell about the prospects of victory in Rugby’s Varsity centrepiece clash at Butts Park Arena Firstly Richard, as Warwick’s first team captain, you’re clearly an experienced senior player. Can you tell us something about your background in rugby? I started playing rugby in school at around 13. The coach persuaded me to try it because my older brother was a useful player. Since then I have played county (Lancashire) and divisional rugby. Back at home I play for Sedgley Park RUFC and in the past I have toured Malaysia and Singapore with the Independent Schools Barbarians side, and captained a school tour to South Africa (Bolton School). What position do you play, and would you compare your style of play to any current professionals, or say you model your game on anyone in particular? I play anywhere across the backrow, mainly Number 8 this season. In terms of a comparison I’d say I was a mixture between South African Pierre Spies and, of course, Kiwi Sonny Bill Williams. Having been appointed as captain of the first team this year, what extra responsibilities have you had to adopt with your new role? The rugby club combines Club Captain and 1st XV Captain into one position and so my role is quite varied. Aside from duties on the pitch, I am responsible for overseeing the entire playing-side of the club across four teams. My duties include organising training and coaches, selecting match squads every Sunday and helping to run circle. You’ve competed in the two previous Varsity matches, how did those matches turn out both for the team and for you as an individual? Two years ago (in my first year), the match was very close for 60 minutes - I think we were actually
losing - until an audacious crossfield kick from the then Captain put us ahead. After that it was more comfortable and we eventually won 22-11. Last year the score was 10-3 to Warwick, we were defending our line for the last ten minutes with 13 men and it was a very tense affair. Two of our players were sent-off one of them may have been me! Can you give us an idea of how each team has been performing over the season? The second and third XV have performed very well this season. They are competing in the highest leagues in their history, and have spent the season fighting to avoid relegation. The third XV are now safe which is great news for the club. The second XV are currently in the relegation zone, but crucial games coming up against the likes of Harper Adams could yet see them safe. The first XV have had a good season and are in good position for promotion to the Premiership. Our fate is now in our own hands, and if we win our remaining three BUCS games we will be promoted. All-inall the season has gone well so far, but we need some big performances over the next few weeks. Have you come up against Coventry at all this season? Obviously they are Warwick’s biggest rivals, so what would it mean to get the better of them at Varsity? Coventry’s first XV play in the same league as our third XV, so they have played each other once before this season. They’re actually due to play each other again three days before Varsity which will be interesting I’m sure. We consider this game to be the biggest of our season and the pressure is on for us to remain unbeaten in this fixture. We need to make sure we are mentally and physically ready as there is no second chance in a one-off fixture like this, especially for the finalists who will never have this opportunity again. What do you know about the Coventry side you’ll be facing? We know that they always field a competitive and spirited side that flies out of the blocks and put us
under pressure early on. The challenge for us is how we deal with that and control our own emotions. Apart from that the first XV will not know too much, although we will glean what we can from our third team. Often though, the side that plays in the BUCS fixtures for them is not the one that lines up against us at Varsity, so we are not taking anything for granted and we are expecting a tight game. Have you adapted training or made any specific preparations for the match? And how do you as the captain play a role in preparing your team for such a big game? The focus in the club is now very much on Varsity. Almost everyone
“Since it was taken away from us we have been campaigning... to be reinstated as the centrepiece...As the finale we feel honoured to be representing our university” is doing extra training on top of what we already do as a group. As you can imagine, the competition for places to play in a fixture like this is pushing everyone to work as hard as they can. As a captain I think the challenge will be to keep everyone calm in the days leading up to match; nerves can certainly drain a lot of energy. On top of that I will review the plays and patterns we use with our coaches and get their feedback. On the day, I don’t think I will need to motivate anyone, which might be the case for other fixtures. I’m going to try and focus on information that our key players and decision makers need in order to perform. Are there any players who have particularly stood out this season, who could be one’s to look out for at Varsity? Our Mauritian international flyhalf Dom Rey and Yorkshire’s finest flanker Jonny Gatus are two to watch. Both are consistent performers who give 100 percent in every match.
What does it mean to be playing at Butts Park as the Varsity centrepiece? Obviously, last year football was the headline game, what was the process involved in replacing them? It means a lot to the club being selected to be the Varsity centrepiece; it gives the game extra spice playing in front of a sizeable crowd and in the Butts Arena. In terms of replacing football, I think in recent history it has been rugby more often than football. We were told that Coventry rugby club had disciplinary issues with their union and so the rugby finale was removed. Since it was taken from us we have been campaigning for our club to be reinstated as the centrepiece, and thankfully this year we were successful. As the finale, we feel honoured to be representing our university and the whole of Warwick Sport, and we hope to do them proud on the day and repay the faith they have shown in us. Considering that the game is being played an impressive stadium and in front of a good-sized crowd, would you describe this as the biggest match in your career as a rugby player? This is certainly one of the biggest matches of my career. The pressure to win will be massive and it will probably be the biggest test of my leadership that I will face all season. The crowd and stadium just add to that as no one will want to make any mistakes or let themselves down. Hopefully we can give the crowd a decent game! Finally, what are your expectations and predictions ahead of the game? I know that last year rugby performed well; are you confident of a repeat? Coventry are a good side with threats all over the park but we are confident that if we stick to our systems and trust each other in defence that we can perform on the day. We expect a huge physical battle so we need to make sure that we approach this in a disciplined way, as this almost cost us dearly last year. Everyone is really looking forward to the game and we cannot wait to get out there.
s Varsity contests go, rugby league could be one of the most pivotal sports in this year’s competition. It is the penultimate event on Varsity Finale day, and president Rich Phillips is aware of the importance of this year’s clash. However, he also believes that the club are better-equipped than ever before to end Coventry dominance in this particular event. “For the three years that I have been part of Rugby League, Varsity has always been the main event of the year,” Phillips said. “I am especially looking forward to this year’s match as we have one of the strongest sides the Rugby League club has seen for a while. “If we play to the best of our abilities, we will come out on top.” Indeed, Warwick will take heart from the fact that Coventry have had a torrid season. Coventry competed in the first division – the division above Warwick – but finished bottom after recording only one win all season. Buoyed by this, Phillips believes that captain Sean Neville can lead Warwick to victory. “Sean is finally back to full fitness and will be ready to spot gaps in the Coventry defence,” Phillips said. Warwick finished in mid-table in their regular season, and there are a clutch of promising players ready to take the game to Coventry. “Our fullback Till Pinto is one of the most reliable pairs of hands in the league,” Phillips enthused. “Our new half Guy Young is creative going forward, and second row Rhys Wyles is a great physical presence on the pitch.” And it is this spread of talent across the field which fills Phillips with optimism ahead of the clash on Varsity finale day. “Unfortunately we saw a handful of strong and talented players leave our team last year,” Phillips said. “However, with a huge recruitment drive we have quickly developed into one of the most powerful squads the rugby league club has seen in many years.” After the painful memories of last year’s Varsity defeat against their university rivals, the rugby league team are finally ready to break the jinx and aid Team Warwick’s attempts to clinch Varsity honours for the 23rd year in succession. Have rugby got what it takes to win?
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Mixed fortunes for hockey Warwick Snow: T Varsity review here was a mixture of joy and disappointment on Sunday as men’s seconds and the two female teams stormed to victory but the men’s first surprisingly drew 2-2. Having never even come close to losing a Varsity game, it’s fair to say that the Hockey Club stood as firm favourites going into Sunday’s assemblage of fixtures. But president of Men’s Hockey Alex Goddard said the Coventry firsts were “much improved”, leading to the draw. “It was disappointing but we did well to fight back,” he told the Boar. The seconds secured an impressive 10-0 win. David Dougall scored a hat-trick, keeping up his reputation after scoring 11 goals this season. The women’s team also stormed to victory, with the firsts winning 2-0 and the seconds 3-0. Goddard said both teams did “extremely well”, adding that “two wins is a really good result”.
» photo: UWMHC
» A snowboarder performs an impressive flip photo: WarwickSnow Warwick Snow’s race and freestyle captains Alex Hope and Krista Middleton review the club’s performance in their Varsity competitions
» Tim Young (background), believes there will definitely be goals in Sunday’s game photo: UWMHC
Commenting before the game, Tim Young reviews the men’s team’s form and attitude going into Varsity
aving never even come close to losing a Varsity game it’s fair to say that the Hockey Club stand as firm favourites going into Sunday’s assemblage of fixtures. Yet it would be foolish to think that such pedigree is breeding complacency within the squads. After a season that epitomises the phrase ‘mixed fortunes’, all the players are determined to maintain their reputation by putting in a dominant display under the Sunday night lights at Fortress Westwood. Having started the season with high hopes, Ben Askins’ 1st XI have found themselves embroiled in a relegation dog-fights on two fronts. Indeed, this week’s Varsity fixture comes at the end of a crucial week of games for the side as they firstly take on fierce rivals Birmingham in a Wednesday BUCS game that will do much to decide who will hang onto their place in the Midlands 1A League, before heading to Stratford on Saturday in an attempt to bolster their hopes of
staying in the West Midlands Premier League. However, the turbulent results of the season to date are not necessarily a true reflection of the talent within the squad; talent that should be more than enough to overcome Coventry come Sunday. The side’s defence have been solid throughout the year and have earned the side some of their more venerable results, including a 1-0 victory away at Loughborough. If the wind conditions are favourable then Tim Young’s aerial from right back could become a potent weapon. For all the sturdiness of the defence it is likely that the game will be won or lost in the midfield where much will rely on Sam Willmott. Sam’s play this year has earned him the sobriquet ‘Puppet Master’, when asked about the secret to his success Sam replied, “I think quickly, look for spaces. That’s what I do: look for spaces. All day. I’m always looking. All day, all day. Here? No. There? No. People who haven’t played don’t always realise how hard that is. Space, space, space. I see the space and pass. That’s what I do.” In that space will be waiting one of the side’s strikers who, whilst struggling occasionally during the course of the season, will be deter-
mined to slot home an abundance of goals come Sunday night. George Cloake’s 2nd XI - more affectionately known as ‘The Chirps’ - have had a similarly mixed season, though since the Christmas break their form has been exemplary and a couple of more good results could signal the start of a late dash to board the promotion train. What isn’t in doubt is that Sunday’s Varsity game will produce goals. Coventry’s 2nd XI are notorious for their leaky defence and no doubt David Dougall will be on hand to take advantage of this. With 11 goals already this season the renowned Dougall is undoubtedly the one to watch going into the match. Whilst not wishing to count our chickens (or bears) too soon it does indeed seem that this fixture, against a side who only beat the Warwick 4th XI 2-1, may well turn into an entertaining goal scoring bonanza. Whatever happens on the day it will be another great experience for all involved. We only lament the fact that more of Warwick’s Hockey players don’t get to participate in Varsity; all four teams would love the chance to compete if Coventry could put out as many teams as we do.
Race: Warwick’s racers have continued to compete well this year, despite being up against some tough competition. At the British University Dryslope Snowsports championship everyone performed brilliantly, especially considering that for most it was their first time competing at a major event, against national level performers. One racer who particularly stood out was Bebe Husakova, who qualified in the female boarder cross. Earlier this term Snow competed in the Midlands league of the British University Indoor Snowsports championship. The club entered ten skiers and seven boarders who all put in some great runs, however only two competitors qualified for the national finals in week 9; Lucy Wallace (Female skier) finished 11th and Bebe Husakova (Female boarder) who qualified in 4th place. Warwick Snow’s Varsity competition rounded off a successful run of results; a strong team was entered and placed well in all the categories. In the Individual male ski Cosmo March came 2nd, while Lucy Wallace came 3rd in the female even and Bebe Husakova won the Board competition. Overall, Ladies’ Ski team came 1st and the Mixed 1st and 2nd teams came 2nd and 3rd respectively. Freestyle: This year Warwick’s freestylers have continued on from last year’s good form; in both of their national competitions Warwick
have made it through to the finals. At the British University Dryslope Snowsports championships Freddie Neve and Joe Clarke both performed excellently in the men’s ski Big Air competition, and Rob Stronach qualified for the male snowboarding finals with an excellent run. This term the club have competed in the midlands league of the British University Indoor Snowsports championships, in which Warwick entered 7 competitors split between ski male and female and board male categories. Despite some spectacular runs only two of Warwick’s competitors qualified for the midland finals: Krista Middleton (female ski) who placed 5th
“With this year being the first time the points have counted...the pressure was on” and Rob Stronach (male board) who won the league against some strong competition, qualifying for the national finals in Castleford in week 9. Warwick Snow’s Varsity competition followed these successes, with this year being the first time the points have counted towards the competition, the pressure was on. There was had a strong turnout, with the club entering twelve freestylers (3 ski females, 1 board female, 5 board males and 3 male ski) and placed in all four categories- Male Snowboard: Rob Stronach 3rd, Male Ski: Joe Clarke 3rd, Female Snowboard: Bebe Husakova 1st, Female Ski: Krista Middleton 2nd and Naomi Milner 3rd.
Football ready for Coventry test Following a season of mixed successes for the Men’s Football teams, first team player Stuart Bryan discusses the club’s hopes and expectation ahead of their Varsity fixtures
n 2012, Coventry’s 32,000-seat capacity Ricoh Arena saw a combination of despair and elation surrounding the Men’s Football Varsity final. Having experienced defeat at the hands of the Coventry second, third and fourth teams, the Warwick firsts felt the pressure to pull something out of the bag. In a dramatic and closely contested match, it was Warwick who eventually came out victorious in a 1-0 win, which saw Tom Murray take his place as a University hero by netting the winning goal. Twelve months on and it’s a very different story. The newly promoted firsts have struggled in BUC’s Midlands 1A division, claiming just two league victories and finding themselves in the relegation zone. With the graduation of many key players, open first team spaces were filled by five footballing freshers. Yet, with little time to consolidate a strong starting 11 and establish team chemistry, the firsts suffered a string of poor performances and results, raising questions regarding tactics and personnel which resulted in changes to both the squad and formation throughout the season. Though experiencing Varsity defeat last year, the threes and fours have enjoyed a enormous success this season, challenging for promo-
tion and flourishing in their respective divisions. Indeed Demetris Pachnis’ threes side were defeated for the first time this season in February, having progressed furthest of all the Warwick Men’s sides in their cup competition. “We’ve always had a lot of good players who can play great football” Pachnis asserts, “but it’s our focus this year which has been key. We know we can win games and dictate the play, which has made all the difference.” Focus is not something that should be an issue according to Men’s Football Club Captain Tristan Loffler: “For a lot of players, this will be their last time playing in the Warwick blue, myself included, and everyone wants their place against Coventry. There should be no need for additional motivation as a Varsity game is motivation enough. We lost three of our four games last year and no one wants to experience that again.” Additionally, the Warwick seconds have enjoyed a good spell of form heading into Saturday’s Varsity fixture. An all-important 2-1 victory over Birmingham seconds was essential for morale as much as safety in the league. Fresher Jake Burgess added to his season total and is not one to be underestimated by the Coventry seconds. As top goal scorer for Warwick Men’s Football, Burgess’ combination of pace and clinical finishing has upset defences on numerous occasions, and will no doubt frustrate and elude the Coventry defence. Recent performances by the first team also suggest a glimmer of
» Warwick will be hoping for a repeat of Tom Murray’s Varsity heroics photo: Warwick Football Club hope in their attempt to retain the Varsity title. In upsetting the odds against league leaders Worcester firsts, the team showed signs that they are beginning to gel. They certainly possess great potential for future seasons considering that so few players will depart at the end of this academic year. Whilst it has not been a painless season, First Team Captain Sam Longden will be happy with his decision to prioritise attitude and character in his selection over pure technique. Travelling to the somewhat hostile Worcester 1’s saw tireless, third year Tommy Dale deliver an em-
phatic performance, dominating the middle of the park and helping secure an assured 2-0 victory over the league leaders. It is also hard to ignore the cool and composed ex-Anderlecht star John Levy, and the formidably quick feet of former Valencia man Xavier Hernandez Munoz. As they belatedly find their stride as an attacking partnership in the close-season, spectators can be sure to expect a lot from the European pairing’s influence on the game, and they are certainly the Varsity ‘ones-to-watch’. In many ways Warwick should be confident going into this Men’s Football head-to-head. While the
3s and 4s can draw upon a season of assured victories, the recent form of all teams is encouraging. It goes without saying that Coventry will up their game for this derby match, but the three defeats suffered at Varsity last year is still felt within the Warwick club and, following a season which has left much to be desired, the firsts will be looking for a triumphant finish. Spectators can expect tireless running and tight-knit, often brutal, defending from Warwick. Yet it is the rapid, tenacious attack play, infused throughout all our squads which will excite fans and create a truly momentous day of football.
Women keen to set Varsity record straight Following an impressive season of for women’s football, first team player Roseanna Deakin chats to the club’s first and second team captains about their hopes of finally getting the better of Coventry
espite several weather and injury related setbacks, the University of Warwick Women’s football team feel confident about their chances in this year’s Varsity match. With last year’s match, hosted at Coventry City’s home stadium, the Ricoh Arena, resulting in a 2-0 loss, first team captain Justine Buckmire reflects on the season’s performance as evidence that Warwick can set the record straight this year: “Last year we were too passive and Coventry were in control. This year I want to ensure we make Coventry work hard too, we will be attacking and driving for a win from the offset. Our main strength is our togetherness amongst the group. Everyone is such good friends and this unity has been reflected in some of the football played.”
Buckmire feels the team have come a long way from last year’s performance, and maintains that “weaknesses have been rectified from last year and I think everyone is a lot more comfortable on the ball. Defenders, as well as attackers, are confident to take on players and pass the ball around, which is a big positive.” The club has enjoyed great success so far this season, with the futsal team being crowned champions of their group, after winning all five games, and progressing through to the national championships. In the 11-a-side league, the first team currently sit in third place with four games in-hand, whilst the seconds have been less fortuitous in their league bid, sitting second from bottom overall. In a previous altercation with Coventry this season, second team captain Ruby Compton-Davies feels her team exhibited one of their best performances yet, stating: “when we played Coventry earlier this season, we were impeded by injuries and the treacherous weather conditions, meaning we ultimately lost. However, the score line re-
mained at 2-2 for a large majority of the match and we know exactly how to beat them now – hopefully minus the injuries and snow.” Similarly, injuries have caused problems for the firsts, with influential central midfielder Phoebe Penfold out for the remainder of the season with a serious knee injury. Other setbacks include star keeper, Beth Griffiths, being unable to play the majority of games, and captain Justine Buckmire also facing recent struggles with injury. However, this doesn’t faze Buckmire in the buildup to the Varsity clash, as she believes the squad has the depth necessary to emerge victorious: “Upfront we have Jenny George who has been amazing, scoring thirteen goals in six games. She’s a natural striker with a real hunger for goals, and should definitely be one to watch. Olivia Lonsdale and Rachel Ephraim have been also immense as our central midfielders.” After losing out to rugby for ‘Varsity Finale’ status this year, the club are keen to ensure that this disappointment will not detract from the club’s determination to
win. Admittedly, it is disappointing not to be performing at the Ricoh this year, with the once-in-a-lifetime experience of competing in a professional arena having driven the team to aspire to reach a high standard last year. Yet, Buckmire maintains that her players will be motivated to perform to the best of their abilities by the excitement surrounding the Varsity fixtures, if not by the arena in which they take place: “I know how frustrating it is to have a good season and then not perform to the best of our ability at Varsity in front of a big crowd, so I want to make sure this doesn’t happen this year.” Encouragingly, she is confident that these big game nerves will not be an issue this year: “I will try to motivate everyone to play their own game and just express themselves. There’s no point in holding back since, at end of day, we are the underdogs, and so we should just go for it.” The advantage of playing at Warwick University’s Cryfield pitches should nonetheless be a boost for the club, especially after a season of great performances at the ground, such as beating Bishop Grosseteste
8-3 in a spectacular victory. Women’s football feel hopeful that the firsts will put in a solid performance, with new additions to the team, and experienced players creating a diverse mix of talent that is certain to test a tough Coventry side. Having not beaten them for three consecutive years, Buckmire explains: “The new players have been absolutely amazing. Having Louise McCalary at centre back has been vital to the team’s success. I think the intake of new players this year has been so enthusiastic and keen to impress that it has really upped everyone else’s game. Additionally, having experienced players who always bring a bit of levelheadedness to big games such as Varsity is a huge bonus. Sometimes you’ve got to just have faith that the better team will come out on top...eventually.” Will women’s football make it this year?
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Last year’s goalscoring hero Tom Murray is buzzing for Varsity once more
It was the stuff of fairytales. In his first year as part of the football team at Warwick University, Tom Murray gave his side a 1-0 win over Coventry in the annual Varsity encounter. A year on, and he still remembers the atmosphere which he hopes will be replicated once again. “I got a lot of banter from people within the club about the goal, as I went on about it all the time!” laughed Murray. “The victory and celebrating af-
terwards was one of my best moments at Warwick University. “After the match, it was just pure joy – I really hope that we can relive that again this year. I’m very confident we can win again.” Second-year Murray claims that the team aren’t worried about their rivals. “We’ve not paid much attention to Coventry this year at all - every game is a new game. “We’re definitely a team rather than a group of individuals – there’s
goals throughout the team, they could come from anywhere.” And Murray believes that this year’s match-winner could come in the shape of a first-year, just as it did in last year’s match. “We’ve lost a lot of players this year, so the first team is full of freshers. “We work well for each other and there’s no doubt in my mind that we will go there and get the win. “It’ll be a great game for the spectators, so get down and watch it!”
One to Watch: Sam Longden First team captain Sam Longden chats to co-Sport editor John Downes about the prospect of his third Varsity, and the chance to end an otherwise disappointing season on a high note Firstly Sam, how do you feel about being chosen as the Boar’s ‘One to Watch’; I know your mate Benji was the ‘One to Watch’ last year and did very well in the Varsity match at the Ricoh Arena, so how do you feel about being given this title? Yeah it’s obviously a big honour to represent your university at any level, and in any sport really so to be chosen as the ‘One to Watch’ for Varsity is obviously a great honour and to be compared to players like Benji is great as well. But there’s a lot of really good quality players in the first team especially this year. We’ve had some really good freshers come in so it’s really about the team performance and getting a good result in that sense. Brilliant. What’s your form been like this season as a team and as an individual? We’ve struggled quite a lot as a team this year mainly, I think, because we lost a lot of senior players at the end of last year and this year the team has been a majority of freshers or first years in the club so it has been difficult to sort of get a mould on that. We also lost our coach, James Ellis, who was a big influence in deciding the team strategy and the way we set out to play, so that was a big lost as well. But there’s a lot of positives. It’s a transition and the team is looking like it will be brighter and stronger in the future. Certainly next year, we’ll have a very strong team as a lot of the third years, myself included, are staying on. As an individual I’d say I’m quite consistent so I have played well in a lot of games. I’ve been moved around quite a lot so that’s been difficult to adjust with, and I feel like being captain perhaps you have less time to focus on your individual performances but it’s not for me to comment really, it’s a team game and we look like we’re developing a good team here for next year. You’re obviously a senior member of the team now, but how do you feel you’ve stepped in as skipper? I
know in first and second year, you were instrumental as part of the team, but as a captain do you have to take on a lot more responsibility as a player and a leader too? Yeah, since I’ve been in the club I’ve always tried to give my all and be a leader on the pitch whether I’ve been a captain or not and I’ve been a captain before at school and at other levels but I feel like I’ve given it all that I’ve got. It’s been disappointing this year because we haven’t done that well and it’s hard to not take that personally really but then again I’ve tried to inspire those around me in every single game so it was a natural progression for me to take on the captain’s role. You mentioned earlier about switching positions this season, so have you not been able to build a central midfield partnership similar to that of yours and Joe Bloomfield’s last season? It’s been quite difficult because we’ve had a lot of new faces at the club and it’s been hard to gage how good people are and what sort of level they’re at. It takes some time for teams to sort themselves out. I
“Stuart Bryan has been a class act on the left wing. He’s really direct. He plays a bit like Gareth Bale” started off playing this season with Adam Westgarth in centre midfield and he’s since moved to right back. We’ve had various people playing in the centre mid. position: Andrew Amato, Matthew Tuveson (a fresher), John Levy and Javier Hernandez, so there’s been a lot of chopping and changing. I think that lack of consistency has not helped us this season. Last year Benji was known for his finger wag celebration and poor dress sense, so as this year’s key player, I’ll ask the same question: are you renowned for anything around the club? I’m kind of just a down to earth sort of guy. I just go about my business around the club. I’m not the loudest, I let the others have a lot more say than other captains may. My nickname’s Longy so not that imaginative there and I don’t score enough to have a signature celebration unfortunately (laughs).
Which players do you look up to in the professional game? Who would you liken yourself to the most? I’ve always been a massive, massive fan of Steven Gerrard. That kind of mould, having that drive and desire to push your team on and I try to emulate him in the way that I play and the way I give to the team. I know you’ve had a bad string of results as a team but have there been any stand out players in your mind? I know you are the Boar’s ‘One to Watch’ but who is yours? I think Stuart Bryan who is a second year at the university but only came into the club this year has been an absolute class act on the left wing. He’s a really, really direct and powerful player. He plays a bit like Gareth Bale actually. He’s really direct and fast so he’s excellent because he’s always dangerous when he gets one on one with a full-back. We’ve got a lot of very gifted, technical players and a lot of foreign players like Javier Hernandez, John Levy (who’s come into the club from Belgium) and Andre Amato, who can all make things happen. You’ve played in the last two Varsity’s: we narrowly beat Coventry 1-0 last year in a memorable day at the Ricoh and we sneaked it on penalties the year before, so how hard a team to beat are Coventry, and do you rate our chances? It’s always very difficult to tell because Coventry have a lot of semi-professional players that don’t always play in their league teams but come down for Varsity so it can be quite difficult to gauge where they’re going to be. However, you can always expect from a Coventry team that they will be well organised and up for the game. It’s always going to be a bit of a fight and you’ve got to have that desire and belief in your own ability to beat them. Talking about playing at the Ricoh Arena last year, I was there, I know the atmosphere was brilliant, so what was it like to play at a Championship quality stadium, even a Premier League stadium some would say? It was literally the best experience of my life. You really feel like you’re playing in the same place that great players have been, players so much better than you and you really get inspiration from that. It was just a wonderful, wonderful experience. It was great for them to have us
» Can Sam make it three from three in Varsity? photo: John Downes on there. The pitch was fantastic, the fans were great and I think the acoustics of the stadium helped because it sounded really loud when we were on the pitch. It was just a fantastic experience and it’s a shame we don’t have it again this year but it is once in a lifetime and you’ve got to enjoy that. Well I remember that one of the most unforgettable parts of the day were the celebrations at the end, so can you tell us some more about them? (Laughs) Yeah, you just lose it for a moment; you just forget completely where you are and it’s just about you and your teammates. It was a bit of a weird mixture because we hadn’t played that well last year so there was that relief that we got the result
but also that pride that we’d upheld the university name and upheld the fact that football can be successful at Varsity as football’s often one of the most competitive sports. It was also really great because our other three teams had lost, so it was nice to put one over them. Ok, so finally what are your expectations and predictions for the match? I think it will be a very tough game this year. It’s quite a small pitch down at Westwood Heath where we are going to play so it will be a bit of a scrap but I think we have got the technical ability within our team to beat Coventry. We need to show that we have the belief and the desire; that’s what’s really going to make the difference on the day.
Shayan (President) It has been one amazing year for me. Never would I have thought that we could ever reach the dizzy heights of last year. This year, however, Warwick Economics Society has gone from strength to strength, increasing membership by over 20% ,hosting its first ever ball, introducing a new discount card, reviving its once fledgling magazine , ‘Assumptions’ and also hosting 2 tours! I am proud and honoured to be associated with such an incredible society that will genuinely leave a void when I have to hand over those symbolic reins in a few months. Even with a dissertation, my time at Warwick would not have been made easier without the Economics Society. It has added an extra dimension to my life; allowed me to meet many incredible people and make some great friends and has most importantly kept me sane, giving me an outlet during those times when work feels like its dragging me down. I believe societies and sports are the most fundamental part of the Warwick system, they allow us to implement our interests on a grand scale whilst also providing a platform for people who house the same interests to meet. As I said in the first edition of our magazine, these are opportunities we often take for granted and we should endeavour to make the most of them. If you feel Warwick Economics Society has been enjoyable for you this year or think that there are areas we could have improved upon, I urge you to sign up for elections.
‘‘While we’ve bo experiences this year w lives would not have b without sitting on the Ec
List of positions (curr President: Shayan Amin Vice President: Angus Taylor Treasurer: Abhijai Shah Social Secretary: Alex Davis Tour Secretaries (X2): Shadi Danechi and Genna Aldridge Editor in Chief, ‘Assumptions’: Megan Brown Assistant Editor in Chief, ‘Assumptions’: Emily Boyce
Megan (Editor-InChief) Much like my make-up preferences and ability to deal with hangovers, Warwick Economics Society has changed a lot since my time at the university began. But rather than discuss the relative merits and drawbacks of excessive black eyeliner, I’m going to focus on the latter point. ‘Inaugural’ became my new favourite word as we organised the society’s first ever tour last year and introduced our own ball and magazine this year, hopefully starting off a few great traditions that future Warwick economists will have the opportunity to enjoy for years to come.
oth had differing we both believe that our been half as enjoyable conomics Society Exec’’
rent person in position): Charity Secretary: Hitesh Pankhania IT and Communications: Jeremy Steele Speaker Coordinator: Ashe Meno and Stefano Vendramin (next year will be one role) Events Coordinator: Luke Macklin and Afo Olowolafe (next year will be one role) Head Ball Coordinator: Louise Mewett Vice Ball Coordinator: Amanda Feast
Growth prospects for these new ventures already look promising, as our (inaugural) tour grew from one weekend in Dublin to a tour duet this year, with many lucky members heading off to first Manchester and later Barcelona. Maybe next year Warwick Economics Society will go transcontinental – the sky is indeed the limit. With the spring issue of the magazine out this week (pick up a copy from the Ikea room in the library, it’s not a bad read) and the suitably lavish ball mere days away, it seems the work of many of the exec members is coming to a conclusion. We’ve had an absolute blast, but now it’s your turn.
Athletics hope for continued success titions. However, this is not to say that Deborah takes Varsity lightly. In 2012 she won the 200m, the 400m the 400m hurdles and then ran the anchor leg of the 400m relay victory. Now, having been in charge of sprint training for this year, Deborah is optimistic that she is not the only individual ready to take varsity by storm. Looking around the track, Deborah pinpoints Georges Vacharopoulos, Laura Whitehead and Aimee Hargreaves as new additions to the team who are ready to take the fight to Coventry. Nonetheless, it is not just new faces that have benefited under the new regime. For others, like Tom Newman, the new training has led to a new commitment to running and a corresponding improvement in performance. Last year Tom finished over 30 seconds behind current Men’s Captain Nathan Wilkins in
» Members of Warwick’s Athletics squad photo: Warwick Athletics
Nathan Wilkins pinpoints the Athletics club’s vigourous new training schedule as key to their hopes for success at this year’s Varsity event.
tefan Colaco flags as he is chased down around the top bend of Westwood Athletics Track. A large group of runners, men and women, sigh and shiver in the bitter cold. Charlie Smith is still thundering down the track, pole poised to complete an imaginary vault. It is close to freezing and the darkness is drawing in… but for
Warwick Athletics another training session has been completed. Way back in September 2012 the club executive decided to implement a new approach to training. The traditional Friday track session was to move to prime-time Wednesday afternoon, and weekend sessions were to be introduced. The executive wanted serious training that anyone, of any ability, could take part in. Most importantly, the club needed a renewed sense of team spirit. With Varsity now fewer than two weeks away, those changes are starting to bear fruit. As well as the Men’s Cross Country team being promoted for only the 2nd time in the last 25 years and
» Warwick’s successful athletics squad photo: Warwick Athletics
the women’s team securing their highest ever finish, the club has only just finished celebrating their most successful ever BUCS Indoor Athletics Competition. The club finished with no fewer than 10 BUCS points – 10 times more than in 2011-12. While David Banwell-Clode purported to steal the show with a signature sprint finish in the 800m, Charlie Smith’s pole vaulting meant that both ended the weekend in record-breaking 4th place. In total, no less than 5 club records were broken. For Deborah Willis, the current Athletics Captain, Varsity represents a nice transition between indoor and outdoor BUCS compe-
The executive wanted serious training that anyone, of any ability, could take part in... those changes are starting to bear fruit the 3000m. After yet another tough session, both acknowledge that this year the result is unlikely to be the same. While the focus of those watching athletics tends to be on the individual, the current Women’s Captain Gemma Barry identifies Varsity’s “vibe and sense of team spirit” as the things that make it stand out. This year it is expected that the massively increased attendance at training sessions will translate into a hefty number of entries for the Varsity event. Having just led the
women’s team to their highest ever finish in the Midlands Cross Country League, Gemma knows a fair bit about team spirit. It is the nature of Varsity that any Warwick athlete can choose to come along, get involved and compete in the race of their choice. This welcoming approach is something that has worked well in previous years: in 2012 a rugby player and a cheerleader won the 100m and high jump respectively. This year the distance events are likely to be especially heavily subscribed. The Men’s Cross Country team was successfully promoted on the back of its huge presence, with students of all sporting backgrounds and nationalities coming to the fore. Despite being snubbed for much of Warwick Sport’s Varsity publicity, all three of the captains spoken to were confident that the combination of high quality individuals, a strong sense of team spirit and good attendance will make Varsity 2013 the best yet. One can certainly sense this potential when watching a Warwick Athletics training session. The banter surrounding the self-appointed Men’s B-Team captain was as much a tribute to the size of the team as it was to the diversity of talent. Meanwhile, the gossiping Women’s Jogging Squad happily trained beside the intense preparations of nationally competitive athletes like Kirstie Overfield and Mitch Kirbey. Last year Warwick narrowly lost the men’s competition while the women romped to victory. In two weeks’ time, at this well-trodden Westwood track, the measure of how effective the new training regime has been will tell its own tale. Last summer it was the track stars of Farah, Ennis and Bolt who stole the show; now it is the chance of Bagnall, Banwell-Clode, Redwood-Sawyer and everyone else in the Warwick team to do the same.
Basketball: Varsity preview Basketball President Natasha Dudas speaks to Boar co-Editor Chris Hackett about her club’s hopes that home advantage will pay off
resident of Warwick Basketball Natasha Dudas is quietly confident that both the men’s and women’s teams will grab a victory at this year’s Varsity, despite both losing last year. The Boar spoke to Natasha, who is an International Management finalist, ahead of their big games. How would you say the season has been going this year? From the girls’ perspective it’s been highs and lows. At the moment we’re on quite a high so going forward we are looking to finish the series strong. From the boy’s perspective unfortunately there have been a lot of injuries that have plagued the team so they’ve had to replace a lot of their team members. So they are looking quite weak at the moment, but having said that, they have managed to beat Coventry before so we feel they can do it again. How do you fancy your chances at Varsity? This year we actually feel our chances are quite high for both the men’s and women’s. We played them in our BUCS league so we’ve played them twice this season and we’ve lost one and won one. But the most important thing is that we beat them most recently so we feel that is what’s going to happen at Varsity, or at least we hope so if we get a crowd behind us. The boys lost just on the buzzer last year, so there’s a revenge element to their game! How do you rate the Coventry side? They’re very strong, they’re very
physical and very aggressive players. It’s the team that we dread the most to play, but that’s also because of the embedded rivalry. We haven’t beaten them in three years since I’ve been here. They’re the toughest team which is why we want to beat them. Other than the disappointment with losing, how did you find Varsity last year? Enjoyable? Tense? I would say the atmosphere is always very good. We played at Coventry last year and they have a big arena and it was full. Unfortunately there were quite a few more Coventry supporters than Warwick supporters, so we’d really like to change this. It’s finally a home game for us so we really want to leverage that, but it’s always a great atmosphere. The crowd gets into it, you have commentators and things, so it’s just really enjoyable and one of the best games to play even if we lost unfortunately.
“It’s finally a home game for us so we really want to leverage that, but it’s always a great atmosphere” Is Varsity the most important game of the year? That’s how I like to portray it. I’ve been telling both teams that this is the most important game. If there’s one game we win, this should be the one. Like I said, this season we’ve had ups and downs with the girls and the boys haven’t done too well, so this is the one game where we can really turn it around and it’s the one that matters the most. What makes basketball stand out from other sports and indeed other sports clubs at Warwick? I would say, from my perspective, it’s how international it is. On our team, I think I’m the most English person, and I’m actually part-South
African. We have people from Spain, we have people from Lithuania, Bulgaria. People come from all over the world and they are able to play basketball here and I think that’s what’s lovely. This is especially relevant in the Intramural Leagues. We have 80 participants – we have the Malaysian society playing the Chinese society and it really is very international and that’s what I really like. I think this is quite unique because some of the sports are quite British in nature but basketball is really universal. What does your training regime consist of? We train three times a week - two skills and fitness sessions and one purely fitness session on a Saturday. On top of that, the boys do a classroom session where they review each of their games afterwards to see how they can improve. It’s quite an intense regime but we enjoy it. Are there any players we should be looking out for? On the girls side there is one player called Meritxell Sayós. She’s amazing. She’s from Spain and she’s definitely our MVP. She will score 30 baskets in a game. On the boys side you should look out for Tom Care and Evagoras Eliades, as well as Phil Reeder, whose ball handling skills are amazing. Could you give us a prediction for the two matches? Well obviously we’re going to win both. For the boys I think it might be a close game but I reckon we’ll take it at the end, probably by five points. The girls, if we come out how we beat them last time, we should win by at least ten, so we’re going to go out there with confidence behind us so let’s hope it pays off. Can the boys overcome their injuries? Comment online: theboar.org/sport
It’s just not Cricket... Mark Robinson discusses Warwick Cricket’s indoor match against their archenemies, Coventry
As Varsity is held at the end of the second term, long before the smell of freshly-mown grass wakens cricketers to the real cricket season of long sultry afternoons and leather on willow, the University of Warwick Men’s Cricket Club (UWMCC) shall be competing against Coventry University in the indoor format of the game. In contrast to last year, where the action took place in Coventry’s more cramped facilities, we will confront our rivals in the Desso Hall on campus. It will involve three short six-a-side games; there will be plenty of room for spectators to support us during them. The UMWCC boasts a first team that competes in the BUCS Premier League, and collected an impressive 1064 BUCS points this year, compared to Coventry’s 426. However, indoor cricket often throws
up unexpected results. Last year, Warwick won a tense encounter 2-1, and lost by the same margin the year before. This year we expect the tie to be just as tight. However, the UWMCC has put additional focus on indoor cricket in recent months in an attempt to ensure that the points will go to Warwick for the second year in succession. Extra training sessions have been arranged to focus on indoor skills, and a practice fixture was arranged against De Montfort University: we ran out comfortable winners in all three games, an encouraging result which we want to replicate against arch-rivals Coventry. The event is at 11am on Saturday 9 March – Varsity finale day – and is free of charge, supplementing the other showpiece events on the day. Spectators will be treated to the riotous spectacle that is indoor cricket: balls ricocheting everywhere, off walls, off ceilings and through the legs and hands of normally competent fielders. And this is all in a game that is over in less than the time that it normally takes the U1 to get onto campus.
Frisbee fling into Varsity
or the time ever Coventry University have put together an Ultimate Frisbee team to compete against the Warwick Bears. With 36 years of history behind the Warwick side, Coventry have their work cut out for them on the pitch, yet they have honorably ris-
en to the challenge and demanded they play Warwick’s First Team. At the sport’s inaugural Varsity match, Warwick Bears are going to ensure that they remain the only University team in the area that other teams need to concern themselves with.
Saddle up for Varsity
he Riding club are participating in their first ever official Varsity this year, after having a friendly run last year to test the water. Chances are you may not know a lot about the sport or their BUCS format so here is a brief summary: The competitions take a two stage format, with a dressage and show
jumping phase. For Varsity there will be 8 people in a team and the idea is to get as few penalties as possible. The Warwick team goes into Varsity with great poise. The First team have competed against Coventry’s equivalent for two years and have beating them comfortably on both occasions.
» Warwick’s basketballers will be shooting for success at Varsity photo: Warwick Basketball » A Warwick player defends his basket photo: Warwick Basketball
Netball to play a ‘safe game’ Captain Imogen Rome-Hall talks to Roseanna Deakin about the club’s ambitions ahead of the Varsity fixture What are your key strategies going to be? We are going to play a safe game. No rushing or taking unnecessary risks, just simple netball. Short, sharp passes tend to tire the opposition out and will be what sees us through the match hopefully to victory! Who are some key players to watch out for? If there is one person that can be relied on week after week it is our GD (goal defence), Ellie Taylor. Ellie is a stunning defender and has the uncanny ability to pick off interceptions that you think she can’t possibly reach. If we have suffered a turnover in attack, and the ball has made its way through our mid court defense, Ellie can be trusted, more often than not, to cause a turnover. She is solid as a rock and her calm presence on the court is an important asset to the team. How does your experience of playing in previous Varsity games help in playing this one? Varsity is always a tense experience and as we have played Coventry in that environment before, we can mentally prepare for the inevitable abuse from the crowd. Having played Coventry in previous Varsity matches and in our BUCS league,
we know how they play and what to expect from them.
team and also the ability to deal with a high pressure situation.
What are the main strengths of the team and some weaknesses that can be improved or let us down last year? As a team we are particularly strong in providing back-up from the defensive players when we are attacking. It is such an asset to the attacking players. We also have creativity in the shooting circle and are able
What are your predictions and expectations for the game? It is definitely going to be a closely contested match. The last time we played them we were winning throughout the whole game but we narrowly lost in the last quarter. Coventry’s netball players are renowned for being overly aggressive so it will be an extremely physical game.
“Last time we played them we were winning throughout the whole game but we narrowly lost in the last quarter” to apply strong pressure to break down opposition’s center passes. However, we struggle sometimes with mental strength but this is something we have been working on throughout the year. How have new players improved the team? And what will the experienced players bring? Our new defender, Hannah Davies, has added not only desperately needed height but also a persistence and tenacity to the circle. This makes such a difference when we are faced with a tall, dominant shooter. We also have two new midcourt players, Kate Hanshaw and Libby Brewin, whose presence allows for more flexibility in centre court and they are both extremely fit! Our experienced players will bring knowledge of the Coventry
How do you feel the season has gone so far for the team? We have had a mixed season. It started a little shaky as we tried to figure out the best playing combinations. However, we are now firmly in our stride and on a run of wins. We are through to the final of the Conference Cup and are now confident in our abilities. We have had a few extra training sessions with Rachel Sharrod, which have been particularly helpful. Rachel has worked on certain aspects of our game and given us great advice on how to implement this in game situations. We have also been going to team meals, which have really helped to improve our team spirit. Have there been any setbacks? Two of our players are medics and because of their hectic timetables have been unable to train as much as the rest of us. This has meant we haven’t been able to train as a team. Luckily, we have had no serious injuries (fingers crossed) apart from standard netball injuries to ankles and knees.
Snooker poised for a win after a successful season .
»First team won the Midland’s Cup photo: Snooker Club First team member Matthew Ansell discusses the club’s hopes of continuing their good form in the Varisty fixture
he Snooker Club is looking forward to its Varsity fixture against Coventry having already enjoyed a successful season so far. We are currently sitting in third place in the Leamington & District A Division League, only a few points off a promotion place and having being top of the pile for a number of weeks in term one. We recently hosted the Midlands Cup in Coventry, where 16 teams from 10 different universities competed. Despite being underdogs in both the semis and the final, Warwick firsts played some excellent snooker to become winners of the Team Championship event. This included a comeback from 4-0
down in the final against Nottingham firsts to level at 5-5, where Captain Dan Turner then won the play-off frame to secure Warwick a 6-5 victory. This was Dan’s first win in a national snooker tournament. He is leaving Warwick at the end of this his eighth - year and will be looking to guide Warwick to victory in their first competitive Varsity fixture. Another key player of ours is Cookson “Cookie” Chiu, who won the Individual Trophy at BUCS last year, and now leads by example, consistently setting the standard for the rest of the team to play to. Incidentally, the run at the Midlands Cup included a 7-3 win over Coventry in the group stages, so we will be looking to repeat or better this result at Varsity. The club also beat Coventry 13-7 in the friendly fixture last year, installing a justified confidence of bringing home the points for Team Warwick.
Badminton annihilate Coventry Badminton president Haocheng Pan and men’s first team captain James Ellis chat to the Boar’s George Ryan about their continuing their domination of Coventry
n Sunday, the first team sailed to victory with a fantastic score of 7-1 and the second team with an even more impressive 8-0. Haocheng said, “The atmosphere was great, we had both matches going on side by side at the same time so the spectators had plenty to feast their eyes on. We are ecstatic with the results although a full-strength squad would have almost certainly gotten us two 8-0 victories. Well played to the Cov boys who bought their sportsmanship as usual.” It has clearly been a good year for Warwick Badminton. For starters, the men’s first team are in contention to be promoted to the BUCS Premier League. Haocheng is confident of the firsts' promotion, and not without good cause: they haven’t lost a game all season.
As Haocheng commented, “they’re fighting for promotion to the Premier League next season, so hopefully they’ll keep their form going and get that top spot.” However, the Captain on the men’s first team, James Ellis, warned that it will not be easy to achieve their much-anticipated promotion; “The men's first team have got a difficult series of matches ahead of them as we move into the playoff section of the season. I'm still confident we have a good chance of being promoted but it will by no means be easy.” It’s not just the men’s first team that have been doing well. Four out of the five of Warwick’s teams are in the BUCS first division in their respective men’s and women’s leagues. Haocheng Pan told me that it was success all round for the Badminton teams: “The men’s and women’s seconds were promoted this season, so they’ve both had quite tough seasons in their respective leagues. Our thirds got into the cup final, which was quite an achievement for them.” The club’s president has high hopes for a great end to a brilliant
season: “Our season is coming to an end; each team has roughly two games left to play, so hopefully we’ll just play out the season with a few solid wins.” Ellis cut a proud figure as he
“We are ecstatic with the results although a full-strength squad would have almost certainly gotten us two 8-0 victories. Well played to the Cov boys who bought their sportsmanship as usual” enthused about a successful season for the club. “Overall this has been a good season for Warwick Badminton. Both our men's and ladies' first teams are still in position for promotion and our men's third team have done an excellent job in reaching the Midlands Conference cup final.” In spite of his ostensible composure when discussing matches against Coventry, the president explained that preparing for a Varsity
match was different to training for a match against any other university team. He explained that there was a lot of pressure on players to perform: “Technically we are more than capable of defeating them, but I think it’s more about the mentality.” “The fact that it is Varsity and it is quite an important competition for us and this fixture really matters. It’s the kind of the match where players have more pressure to perform well.” Outside of competitions Badminton has had a great year as well. The sports club has well over 400 members and hope to expand even further to become one of the biggest sports clubs on campus. The club offers opportunities for members to train every day, which plays a big part in the success they have enjoyed this year. Haocheng explained that “we have a club session every day of the week; we’re the only club that offers opportunities for all of our members to play every day.” It’s not just training that has kept the team busy; Badminton has adhered to a busy social calendar throughout the year as well. “We’re
a really diverse society with people from all over the world. We try to cater for everyone in that respect, so socials we try to get a mix between drinking and non-drinking socials. For example this week we went to ‘Laserquest’.” After a hectic season the club is looking forward to a bit of relaxation over Easter as the club has a tour planned to visit Amsterdam: “It should be fun, it will be a nice to have a few days away from work with friends.” When I asked the club President if he could sum up the Warwick Badminton experience in one sentence, the response was unequivocally positive. “There’s no stopping the club really, we’re going from strength to strength and the team just wants to deliver fun badminton for everyone.” Coventry, you have been warned. What are your thoughts on badminton’s matches?
Tweet: @BoarSport #WarwickVarsity
Ice Hockey: Cov. victory over depleted Warwick iour, it looks like Varsity Ice Hockey will keep its crown as the biggest event in the sporting calendar.
Calum Murray reflects on Warwick’s 11-9 loss in the opening Varsity event
nticipation of a long awaited victory for the Warwick Panthers were dashed this year as Coventry added yet another notch in their growing tally of Varsity triumphs. A truly clinical performance from Coventry’s highly experienced forwards granted them a well deserved victory in a match packed with tension, action and downright brutality. Although concerns had been raised about ticket sales in weeks prior, the event saw a spectacularly high turnout of well over 2,500 students, creating an incredible atmosphere in the Coventry SkyDome. The event managers secured not only a top-notch audio-visual team to conduct the customary pre-game display, but also the services of announcer Kevin McGreevy, whose rich and silky tones gave the proceedings a truly professional feel. Despite extensive pre-planning and strategy, it was not to be Warwick’s day. Hoping to capitalise on Coventry’s dependence on their semi-pro trio - Luke Brittle (Telford Tigers), Rick Slater (Solihull Barons) and Josh Nicklin (Coventry Blaze) Warwick had planned to shut out their stars early in the game with hard, physical hockey. However, Warwick themselves had found themselves with limited resources, as illness and imminent fatherhood prevented them from fielding Matti Konsala and Ian Williams respectively. As the puck dropped for the first period, Warwick looked relaxed and ready to execute their game plan. Yet, just sixteen seconds later, a floating pass to a goal hungry Rick Slater had given Coventry their first of the game. Warwick immediately looked shaken, with Pavol Kiralvarga conceding a penalty for slashing and Richard Belfitt missing a chance on the breakaway. Nevertheless, divine intervention allowed Warwick to equalise just four minutes in, when Coventry goaltender Alex Young accidentally pushed the puck into his own net whilst recovering a shot from Andris Egle. The period continued with strong physicality from the Warwick bench, as Coventry’s Ignas Romaškevičius and Josh Williams both received one way tickets to the ice courtesy of the Warwick defense. However, Warwick failed to adequately cover the slot, leading to a profusion of shots on their net. In a performance that can only be described as sensational, Warwick goaltender Dan Harrison picked each soaring puck from the air with exquisite accuracy, keeping the Warwick fans’ hopes alive. Yet, in a cold reminder that even Warwick students are only human,
» Referees struggle to restrain Axel Benson and Joe Moreton during second period fight photo: Axel Tanty Adam Fleet managed to put Coventry ahead once more from an unmarked position in front of the posts. Harrison’s virtuoso performance between the pipes held out any further damage until the buzzer blared for the first intermission, allowing the exhausted Warwick team to wearily leave the ice. Concerns were evident and the only words Warwick Bench Manager Ross Nicol had to sum up his feelings were that “2-1 sounds better than 8-0”. Unfortunately, this phrase would prove ironically foretelling. The second period was gruelling for Warwick to say the least, especially as Coventry provokingly elected to field their back-up goaltender Tobias Whitmarsh. A goal in twenty seconds from Coventry’s Adam Fleet immediately put Warwick on the back foot and, despite exploiting the inexperienced Whitmarsh for two goals in quick succession, Warwick were unable to keep Brittle and Nicklin from penetrating the slot. A flurry of penalties against Warwick opened up the ice, gifting Brittle, Nicklin and Slater five goals between them and leaving a beleaguered Warwick 8-3 down. It is perhaps little surprise then that the end of the second period saw tempers over-boil, much to the satisfaction of the cheering mob. After a clean hit on Coventry’s Romaškevičius sent him crashing toward the boards, a full scale brawl broke out between the two bitter rivals. For Coventry D-man Joe Moreton, this meant facing down all six-foot-three of Axel Benson: a situation no man would choose to experience. In a matter of seconds Benson had Moreton pinned to the ice, reportedly leaving him with not only a split nose, but with bloodied fists from his fruitless attempts to punch Benson’s helmet. Coventry’s dominance was reflected in their Bench Manager
James Lilley’s confidence before the third period, who elected to keep the novice Whitmarsh in the net. Affirming this conviction, Rick Slater opened the third with a goal in just five seconds, setting a new record for the earliest goal in a period. However, the decision to field Whitmarsh came back to bite Coventry’s arrogance. Another spate of penalties, this time for Coventry’s Romaškevičius, Brittle and Moreton, gave Warwick the opportunity to put three past Whitmarsh’s pads and squeeze a few beads of sweat from Lilley’s brow. Despite scrambling a visibly aggrieved Young back into the net, Coventry continued to take punishment from a revitalised Warwick squad. Two goals from Dan Thornton, one from Richard Belfitt and another from Veit Dinges brought the score to 9-7, and with it gave a whisper of hope to the boys in blue. Nevertheless, the fire and passion displayed could not suffice. In a last hurrah, Rick Slater hammered two final nails into Warwick’s already
splintered coffin to claim his fourth of the night, and secure his inevitable selection as Man of the Match. Battered and bruised, Warwick could only watch on in anguish as the buzzer heralded Coventry’s triumph. Match Analyst Jamie Holland summed up the win as “A well deserved victory for a more skillful and quicker team”, adding that, “Warwick struggled even with the basics when put under such pressure”. At the end of the day, it was a game that was decided by margins, and those margins were called Rick Slater, Luke Brittle and Josh Nicklin. Against such an experienced Coventry side, Warwick certainly gave a valiant performance. Dan Harrison’s wizardry in the net may have earned him Warwick’s MVP, but the team as a whole performed excellently in adversity and provided a glorious spectacle for those lucky enough to secure tickets. With such a wealth of talent, excitement and controversial behav-
Varsity Ice Hockey is garnering a bit of a reputation when it comes to controversial events, with last year treating us all to a rogue Coventry student rigging the prize raffle and two Warwick students enjoying a little private time in the changing rooms. Fortunately for us, this year was no different. Coventry kept form by attempting to unilaterally declare a twoall victory in the “Sports Officer Shootout”, although whether it was an effort to cheat or a lack of basic numeracy skills is slightly unclear. Nevertheless, Bam’s hockey pedigree appeared to not translate to ice, and Cov’s Ali Burr went on to win fair and square. More importantly, we all know that it’s not about the winning: it’s the gratuitous nudity that counts. In the second intermission, one brave Coventry student skated on to the ice with naught but a black thong to conceal his short and curlies, initiating a stadium-wide Harlem Shake. Initial speculation had suggested he’d be going Full Monty, but he must have reconsidered after realising that a freezing cold ice-rink does no favours for your personal reputation. Warwick also joined in on the fun, pitting their new mascot against Coventry’s. After some keen right hooks, one thing was obvious: an elephant in dungarees fighting a bear clad in sportswear is a great way to get a crowd going. But how can this be topped next year? I, for one, will not be around to see it, but I can assure you that Coventry and Warwick students alike will delve into the depths of depravity to try. Can Warwick come back after this setback?
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» The match saw several fights break out as old rivalries were stirred photo: Axel Tanty
Tennis smash woeful Coventry Isaac Leigh spoke to third-year tennis players Max Teeling and Chris Prince before Tennis’ 8-0 Varsity win over Coventry
or first-team captain Chris Prince and president Max Teeling, this year’s Varsity was particularly poignant. The duo played their final tennis matches at Warwick University in the series, and it is clear that Varsity success meant everything to them as they represent the club for one final time. “It’s my last year and as for all the other members of the team, this is the one we really want to win,” said Chris. “The league is important throughout the year, but Varsity has got something a little bit different – it’s a more direct rivalry rather than just points in the bag, it’s about winning and losing points on the leaderboard, so we really get up for this one.” While Chris portrayed a team desperate to beat Coventry, there was no disguising Max’s personal desperation to overcome the old enemy. “It would really mean everything to go out on a massive high by taking them down one final time,” Max mused. “The seconds (whom Max represents) haven’t lost Varsity since I started at Warwick, so it’d be great to hold onto that record as long as I’ve been here. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love to stuff Coventry?” Unfortunately, Max’s confidence was misplaced as he lost 6-2 6-3 to rival Jack Thompson, whom he beat in a BUCS match on Wednesday. There is a wealth of talent within the Warwick ranks which was always likely to be converted into Varsity points. The star player for the women is captain Gemma Praditgnam, who breezed through her match 6-1 6-1. And as for the men’s draw, it is a
25-year-old former Oxford University student who Prince identified as the key player. Marc Baghdadi, who is three years into his PhD at Warwick, captained the Oxford team during his degree and made the top 10 of the juniors’ rankings during his teenage years. He subsequently beat Alan Li 6-4 6-1 in a commanding display.
“We do struggle every week, but we want to give everybody an opportunity to play; so it’s tough to pick the teams, we just try to pick the best 12 players on the day really.” Chris, a third-year economics student, is refreshingly laid back for a man with such responsibility. He has been part of the first team throughout his time at university,
portant for the whole team result as well as the individualistic aspect, so it does increase the intensity significantly for the whole day.” Meanwhile, Max, who competed in the seconds, has filled multiple roles during his time with Warwick Tennis. “Tennis has been a huge part of what I’ve done at university,” enthuses Max.
» Chris Prince, far left, finished his Warwick tennis career with a bang photo: Joe Harris With the depth and variety of talent on board, first-team captain Chris admits that it is difficult to choose the players who will represent Warwick Tennis each week. “Myself and vice-captain Joe (Harris) struggle every week to work out exactly who’s going to play, because people’s form varies and the amount people have gone to training varies, as well as fitness and things like that,” said Chris.
progressing to the national BUCS singles finals this year along with Marc.” And he confesses that it has been challenging balancing the roles of captaincy and performance this year. “I didn’t expect the difference to be so great, as when I’ve finished my own match I’m still just as nervous and tense,” admits Chris. “It suddenly feels a lot more im-
» First team captain Prince had to make a tough selection decision before Varsity photo: Edd O’Neill
“I’ve been involved in the exec for the past couple of years and the teams for three years, so I’m looking forward to putting on a really good performance in my final match at Warwick. “I’ll be playing in the second team, which is where I’ve played throughout my time here, and am really looking forward to it.” While Warwick are understandably enthusiastic about their own capabilities, there is the small matter of a Coventry side desperate to deny their rivals glory. But Chris insists that while they knew a little bit about their opponents, they would attempt to simply accentuate their own strengths. “It’s a combination of factors,” explains Chris. “You’ve got to try and play your opponent due to their weaknesses, but you want to concentrate on your focus, intensity and concentrating on winning your match. “It’s about getting in their head and grinding through the match, so it’s partially about matching up our players to the strengths and weaknesses, but also about everybody playing as well as they can. We can only ask for one hundred per cent
effort and concentration of them, and that’ll win a lot of matches.” While Chris was circumspect about Warwick’s chances of overcoming their rivals, Max needed only to reflect on his personal experience to imbue himself with a sense of confidence. “Last year was a roaring success – we pounded the seconds 12-0, but they managed to beat our first team,” smiled Max. “We’ve had some really tough matches against Coventry this year in the regular BUCS season, though. “I’ve played them three times so far this season; I haven’t lost a match yet so I’m hoping to keep that up, but it’ll be a really close fixture.” In a game which will be potentially decided by a series of small factors, it could prove crucial that Coventry are going to be at home. But Chris believes that the relative proximity of the venue to Warwick, and the mental strength of his players, means that home advantage had no impact on either side. “We’re only down the road, where we’ve played quite a lot of times ourselves, so there is probably only a very small home advantage for them,” insists Chris. “It’ll be played on the carpet, which is slightly faster than the courts we play on, but it actually suits quite a lot of the guys’ playing styles, so in reality there’s going to be very little advantage gained by the courts.” Whoever has the technical advantage of playing at home, both Chris and Max enthused about the prospect of playing in front of raucous spectators. “Varsity’s always a big occasion,” said Chris. “Last year was brilliant, we had loads of supporters down and we put in a really good performance. “I think this year it will be the same again – hopefully we’ll have even more supporters down. “It should be a really good atmosphere, and Coventry always bring a lot of people as well, so it’ll be quite a partisan atmosphere which brings out the best in most of the players. “It is always an enjoyable event, even if it is a little tense at times!” And Max, in his role as president and second-team stalwart, simply wished to do himself justice on the biggest stage. “I’m really excited. Varsity’s always a highlight of the year, and it would mean a lot as it’s my final year,” explains Max. “Hopefully I can give a good showing for the final time.” And with that, the two players departed to prepare for Varsity. And the message was clear: Warwick would take some beating. *Warwick beat Coventry comprehensively 8-0
Published on Apr 20, 2013