Having won two Premierships in a row, the odds on Sydney University being in and around the pointy end of the season again in 2020 would be pretty short. But they do come into the new campaign with a few unknowns. Head coach Robert Taylor was preparing for a third tilt at the title when Covid-19 put a halt to proceedings, but the hiatus gave English giants Leicester Tigers the chance to swoop in and offer him a well-deserved chance at the next level. That led to a coaching reshuffle, with Taylor’s assistant Joe Horn-Smith and Uni’s Director of Rugby Michael Hodge handed the co-coaching reigns for the revamped season.

Given the pedigree of success and the production line of talent coming through the ranks at Camperdown, you wouldn’t back against them continuing their recent dominance. But just how the fledgling combo fare with a team shorn of many of last season’s crown jewels, and with the distinct possibility that they won’t see any of their traditional Super Rugby talent return, is an intriguing prospect, particularly given the fact they have been forced to prep their new team from either side of the Tasman. Horn-Smith explained all to Behind the Ruck this week…


Covid-19 has presented a unique challenge to sport, how have the Students adjusted and coped with those challenges?

“We’ve got better at communication and formalising our communication methods with some good team Zoom calls. We had to modify our training to make sure that it meets all the requirements outlined by the government, starting with groups of nine like everyone else and staggering the times guys have been coming into sessions. We’ve been doing a lot of one-to-one stuff in terms of giving feedback to guys as well, and organising personalised training so they could train at home throughout Covid, and that forced us to get creative.

“We did stuff like using a running app to map all of our running routes, and then uploading them all to a group chat for a competition to see who could run the fastest three kilometre time trial. It’s been a logistical challenge with guys dispersing all over the state, but it’s just been important to keep constant communication with everyone in our group. That’s been the big thing, making sure we’re all connected with one another.”

Continue reading >