UMWRFC make history by partaking in a BUCS final for the first time.
The University of Manchester Women’s Rugby Club are looking forward to their first BUCS Trophy final later this month after a narrow victory over Sheffield Hallam in the semi-final last week. Despite a late fight-back from Sheffield, Manchester dug deep to secure a 24-19 win, which means they will participate in a BUCS final for the first time in their history.
In the earlier rounds, Manchester negotiated difficult ties against the University of York and Swansea University at the Armitage Centre. They then travelled all the way to Portsmouth to win their quarter final and the long journey of this season seems to have united the squad; team spirit and confidence are high heading into the game. Hooker Amy Linnegan is optimistic that they can bring the trophy home:
“We are nervous but excited and proud to have reached the final. We know it will be a difficult game but we hope to win it.”
The players have been searching through their records and believe this will be their first cup final since the formation of the club. The achievement is made even more notable by its distinctiveness among other Manchester teams this season; only the Men’s Hockey first team have also reached a Trophy final, and, despite plenty of success in the Northern Conference Cup, Manchester are yet to deliver a team into a Championship final. Women’s Rugby are therefore one of the few teams left flying the flag for Manchester.
Manchester’s opponents, the University of Bedfordshire, will have the shorter journey to London and will arguably be marginal favourites for the game; they lead Midlands Division 1A with 8 wins and 1 loss all season and have defeated the likes of Warwick, Cambridge and King’s College on the way to the final. They are likely to provide a considerable test.
But Manchester’s women have saved some of their best form for the Trophy competition. They currently lie fourth in the Northern Division but have upset dangerous teams on their way to the final and will be looking to repeat the feat. And Manchester have another reason to be optimistic; scrum-half Claire Shutler, who has played for the North of England Ladies team, is on good form ahead of the encounter.
The final takes place at Imperial Sports Ground in Teddington in London on the 24th March, just a few miles from Twickenham Stadium where the Championship trophy finals are scheduled for the same day. Although the dream match at Twickenham may not yet be a reality for Manchester the team will be hoping that this first final could yet be a platform for a future trip to the national home of rugby.