Johnny Girling
Closely contested Varsity matches down the years against a strong team in St. Mary’s certainly shows that Brunel University has pedigree in Rugby League. With two players representing the South East regional side for the first time this year, along with two returning, there was a strong showing in the squad from Brunel. Malikhi Lloyd-Jones and Ibrahim Kabia once again represented Brunel, whilst Howard Smith and George Geddes put in a strong showing for the region who managed one draw and one defeat before beating their South-West rivals to clinch fifth place.
A dogged showing in the opening match of the competition saw the South East region tough out a draw, finishing 6-6 against the North East, who would eventually finish just one place above them after losing in the 3rd/4th playoff. The Pool groupings had seen the region drawn against holders Yorkshire, and the South East region were always underdogs and eventually succumbed 20-0, knocking them out of the group stage. The squad recovered strongly to ease to a relatively comfortable 16-8 victory against arguably their local rivals, the region of the South West.
The strong showing from members of the ‘Brunel Big Dogs’ was an appreciation of the fine effort this season which saw the squad ease to the league title following six wins from seven games. The results matched their haul from last year as the title was eventually won by Yorkshire in the competition held in Nottingham, as the regional squads had just over a week to train with new teammates and learn new moves whilst adjusting to different styles of play.
The regional competition provides a springboard for players to put forward their case for selection in the England Universities Squad, and hopefully Brunel can continue to provide a decent number of players in the squad in future years. The attention now turns to Varsity as home advantage will hopefully play a part in a Brunel victory as the university looks to reclaim the trophy that Brunel students believe rightfully belongs to them.