Sydney University


West Harbour

By Bruce ‘China’ Lin

25 May 2024

The weather was at last dry while the playing surface was firm. Ideal conditions at long last for some running rugby. For those at the revamped Concord Oval there was a plethora of tries resulting in a 52-33 victory to University.

But the first quarter of the half was anything but positive for the Students. A quick backline shift to the grandstand side saw the Pirates big winger Sirker launch down the touchline for a try in the corner. Five minutes later those inner west Mariners received a penalty. Rather than kick for touch they opted for a quick tap which took the Students by surprise. West Harbour’s fullback Marsters raced downfield and linked with his winger who completed the movement to score under the posts for a 14-0 lead. University supporters were rather shocked and the coaching staff along the far side could be excused for tearing their hair follicles out.

But after this West Harbour blitzkrieg University composed themselves and took the play up to Wests. A Garryowen kick was spilled by the Pirates and regathered by speedy winger George Clark who passed back inside to outside centre Henry Clunies-Ross. Rugby’s version of *Benjamin Button went into 6th gear overdrive to score. The try was converted from wide out by Sydney rugby’s most dashing winger according to his mother, Jack Matthews. 14-7 was the score and looking more respectable than a big duck egg against the Students score sheet.

Like the international man of mystery Austin Powers University rediscovered their  mojo soon after. West Harbour were being backpedalled by the incessant rucking and recycling by the Students pack. Twenty metres from the Wests line a loosely marked ruck was exploited by University halfback Hwi Sharples. Sharples saw the fractured defence before him and took off through the ruck towards the line. The sneaky halfback did not have a hand touching him to score another converted try. From this point on University became a *poikilotherm in their quest to score more tries. By halftime University were now ahead 26-14 after the initial shell shock.

Wests in the second half started the scoring with a bumping try from a five metre lineout. But the 26-21 score did not last long. A five metre rolling maul try and another runaway Clunies-Ross try from a spilled ball saw the scoreline balloon to 40-21 to University. University sensing the Pirates were prime to walk the plank commenced to punish them with another phase of quick tries. University had surged ahead to 52 points. Two more West Harbour tries failed to peg back University. The Students eventually recording an important 52-33 victory but not without some heartburn during the initial phases.

Head coach Todd Louden looked a relieved man after the encounter. “We knew how to win and nearly lose games but that comes with a young side. I have to mention the incredible efforts today from Jack McCalman and Sam Allsopp.”

Newcomer to the club second rower Ilan Evans hailing from the green valleys of Wales plying his apprenticeship with the RGC club is now revelling in his sojourn down under. The big Welshman with the baby face said, “I just love it here and wanted to experience something outside of Britain. I’m here for the rest of the season.”

Next week University are at home against arch rivals Eastern Suburbs on our famous Ladies Day.


*Poiklitherm – A cold blooded animal.

*Benjamin Button – The Curious case of Benjamin Button was a 2008 fantasy romantic drama film where a man ages in reverse.