Loughborough University succumb to defeat against Barbarians in thrilling exhibition game
Loughborough University’s rugby team put up a strong fight against their more experienced opponents in the Barbarians team, before succumbing to a 40-7 defeat in an exhibition match attended by over 3,000 spectators.
The incessant rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of the raucous Loughborough crowd as they watched their 1st XV rugby team run onto the pitch to face their opposition, the Barbarian FC. The exhilaration and excitement from the spectators was reflected in the pumped-up tension emulating from each player as the game commenced.
This special fixture was one of the first games to be held in Loughborough’s new 3000-capacity stadium. Loughborough University is the pinnacle of sporting achievement in the United Kingdom and this is clearly reflected in the standard of play from the 1st XI rugby team, who were at the top of the National North 2 league table and have been promoted this season to the National League 1.
Captained by Russell Weir, the Loughborough boys made a tremendous effort to keep the Barbarians at bay.
Right from kick-off though, it was clear to see that the Barbarians had the upper hand with not only a few years more experience, but with possibly a whole 50kg extra weight in the front row; they were physically like an extra man against the student team.
In charge of the Barbarian side was Scotland’s coach, Andy Robinson. Robinson has two sons currently studying at Loughborough and he himself was a graduate of the university, before going on to play 11 times for the Barbarians. These links between top class players and the university are something Loughborough are particularly proud of.
The wet weather did nothing to slow the players down, although handling errors were made on both sides with the wet ball. The Loughborough players, in particular, used the wet turf to their advantage with some rather spectacular sliding stunts.
The game saw plenty of tries, with the vast majority of the audience rooting for the students. But, despite their attempts to break through, by the end of the first half the score was 21-7 to the Barbarians.
The second half brought no more tries for the home-side, but by the final whistle the Barbarians had taken the score to 40-7.
Blindside flanker, Joe Atkinson, a Geography student at Loughborough who has been capped for England U16’s and played for the England Counties U20’s, enjoyed the game thoroughly.
“It was such a privilege playing against a team like the Barbarians. It was a great way to end the season after Loughborough students’ promotion into National League 1.”
Politics and Economics student Alfy Garnett said he was also supporting in the crowd.
“It was awesome to see the guys out there up against some top class players and really holding their own and also a huge testament to the club managing to attract such a huge atmosphere for the game.”
Although it was a solid win for the Barbarians, their victory was by no means an easy feat. And for the 3,000 strong audience watching the match, the Loughborough side managed to illustrate the promise of their upcoming rugby stars.