Ah, the smell of freshly cut grass; the awesome sensation of a cool breeze on a sunny day; the sound of bodies crashing into each other with utter disdain and savage determination.
This was the scene at York University as the Varsity Blues men’s rugby team embarked upon their 2002-03 regular season against the York Yeomen with an inspired, come-from-behind 29-10 victory. After a quick start where they took the lead, the Blues defence let the Yeomen slip by, and trailed 10-5 after the first half.
“We started off hard today, but then we lost focus in the first half,” said rookie Andrew Little. “We definitely regained our focus and stuck to the game plan in the second…. [We] came out much stronger for sure,” he said of a second half where the Blues scored 24 points, and took command early.
The Yeomen were pressing early in the second when they made an error that opened up the floodgates to the visiting Blues offensive onslaught. York advanced more than halfway up the pitch before U of T veteran John Woolley intercepted a pass and ran the distance for the Blue’s second try.
From that point, there was no looking back for U of T. As the Blues advanced the ball with renewed fervour and converted more tries, their defence tightened up immensely, and would not allow the Yeomen a point in the second half.
“They did exactly what I expected of them, offensively and defensively,” said Blues coach Clarence Brown. “Our team played six pre-season games and it paid off because we got to know each other,” he said.
This appears to be the start of a very promising season for the rugby squad, who had a disappointing year in 2001-02, posting a sub-par record of 3-5. Coach Brown feels that his year’s team will be better, but also admits that it is still early to start celebrations.
“I don’t want to speak too early, but it’s looking good so far,” said Brown in an interview, after giving a post-game speech to his players.
He also said that there were still a few improvements that needed to be made before the Blues can take the next step. “There are many minor things that need improvement, such as our ball handling in the early stages of the game,” he said.
Rookie James Thom also feels that the team is on the verge of something big. “It’s a young team and we are starting to gel together, so it’s very promising.”
The Blues’ home opener will be played on U of T’s back campus field on Wednesday, September 25 at 5 p.m. Thom, along with the rest of his teammates, hopes that there will be a lot of supporters at the match. “If we can start to get more people out for our games, that would an amazing uplift,” he said.