Our mid-season report card contains a real mixture in review.

The Easts game typified our first 9 rounds in that 7 of our 9 games were played in wet weather conditions on soft grounds.  The development of our youth again shone through with Henry James at 10, out of Scots College in 2023, and Eamon Doyle, playing out of position from 6 to 4 and straight out of St Josephs in 2023. To put this into perspective, Eamon’s’ opposite number in the Easts team was Fergus Lee Warner, brought on in the 30th minute, who returned from Europe playing professional rugby as a lock and previously played with two super rugby teams in Australia.  He had also played with the Waratahs the night before.  This experience is invaluable for Eamon’s development and showcases how young we are compared to the current top clubs in the competition.  Hwi Sharples was straight out of St Joseph’s College in 2023 and had an excellent game.  Both Eamon and Hwi, through their efforts, have been selected in the Australian Under 20s World Cup Squad, along with Bryn Edwards, Ronan Leahy and Boston Fakafanua.


One of the most noticeable advantages in the Shute Shield this season is the number of teams carrying fresh forward reserves, which makes a big impact at the back end of the game. This is something we traditionally have not done, but it shows how the competition has evolved.


We welcomed back James Kane from France, who played his 50th first-grade game when he came on against Easts. Although it was a loss, our young squad should be very proud of the effort in very difficult conditions against a touted Easts team with 3 returning Waratahs from the night before playing and numerous fresh forward reserves.

This year, we were charged with renewing the game model and accelerating a young playing group. We achieved this for the first part of the season, with 37 players already playing first grade and numerous debutants due to strategy and a big injury list.


In terms of SUFC game elements:

  • We are entering our opponents’ 22m zone more than any other team in the competition. We are second best in the competition at limiting opposition entries in our 22m Zone. We look to improve our conversion and repel at either end of the field.
  • On average, we score 4 tries a game for a bonus point.
  • Our tactical kicking game has evolved since last season and is tracking within the top two in the competition.
  • Regarding our defence, we are the best team at stopping the opposition before the game line.
  • We are not missing more tackles than the competition average. However, this is an area we are looking to improve upon.
  • We have been able (through both defence and attack) to score more bonus points than any other team in the competition via our close losses.
  • Of our losses, we have been in every game, and our young team has been learning lessons greatly.
  • Our scrum has been under pressure most games, not through lack of ability, but lack of availability with most of our props at the Waratahs and a couple on the injury list. It has been problematic to consistently practice scrums until this week. We see this as a big improvement area as we gain consistency in players.
  • Our lineout has improved considerably, and whilst it has fluctuated, we have the second-best attacking lineout in the competition, and our defensive lineout is currently fifth.
  • Our mauling game, which is the traditional part of our game, hasn’t been as effective, and this is a trend across the competition, with the referees interpreting the mauling structure differently.

Looking forward to the second half of the year, we will have some super rugby backs returning, but there will be no forwards returning at this stage, which is a big change from the past 15 years.  This means that the squad we have in place will continue to develop and need to step up against the more fancied clubs in 2024, such as Easts and Randwick, who will have many representative players returning and bolster their chances at the 2024 Shute Shield.


From a coaching perspective, I am not negative about this fact. I am more practical in terms of where we need to focus our development and game. More importantly, every lesson and every ‘win’ we can get is crucial and bodes well for 2025.


I have been around the Club on and off for 23 years, and whilst we may be thin with representative players and renewing several elements of our program and game model, this has been the most rewarding and challenging season so far.

Your support of our young team is critical and does not go unnoticed.

I can promise you this group is resilient and hard-working, attributes that are a core part of the Sydney University DNA.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday against Eastwood at TG Milner.


Head of Coaching – Todd Louden