Glen’s Birkbeck Dragons Rugby, 2016/17 season review
The Birkbeck Dragons second year saw fantastic recruitment from the Fresher’s Fayre, with some excellent players joining the team in numerous positions. With a larger pool of players Dragons were able to challenge many of the bigger and well established sides in the league, with many games showing periods of dominance from the Dragons. Again, home matches were played at Wanstead RFC with the bond growing ever stronger between the ‘Herons’ with 125 years of history and the recently founded Birkbeck Dragons.
The first match of the season was at home against a resurgent Royal Free and University College Medical School (RUMS) team in the LUSL league. Despite the Dragons fielding an incredibly strong side with several debutants (Mattia, Federico, Andre, Dave, Jon Abdul & Harry Watts) the improvement from the RUMs side was clear to see. Final score was 0-56, not an embarrassment whilst playing together for the first time against a team that regularly wins the Hospitals Cup and their Varsity against King’s College London. It was abundantly clear that the Dragons had recruited some quality players and Birkbeck deserved at least a try.
Between these games, Glen Gallogly retired as 1st team Captain (due to imminent arrival of baby Seren) and following recommendations and a vote Eric Jay was declared the new 1st team Captain, with Daniel Pycock as Vice Captain.
The second match of the season was away against Queen Mary University, a strong young side with whom Dragons have built quite the camaraderie throughout the season. Debutant for the game was Owen Davies at scrum half who had a brilliant debut. QMUL showed moments of incredible talent throughout the game, whilst in the first half the Dragons showed moments of woeful tackling and handling. With ten minutes to go in the half Dragons changed tactics and utilised their strong pack for pick and drives. The tactic resulted in a try for Glen in his last match as Captain. Score at half time was 22-5 and the match seemed to be in the balance with the Dragons new tactic working wonders. Unfortunately, despite 10 minutes of intense pressure at the start of the second half – Birkbeck were unable to push home their advantage and QMUL broke free to score a beautiful try (and open the floodgates.) Final score 53-5.
The third game in LUSL saw Birkbeck Dragons (Eric’s first full game as Captain) play Imperial College for Eric’s first full game as Captain, another strong, youthful team. The only debutant was CJ, who had a stormer. From the outset Birkbeck Dragons stamped their authority on the game, several ‘tasty’ tackles seemed to dull Imperial’s desire to take ball into impact. Despite this, the Dragons had momentum and implemented the same pick and drive technique used against QMUL, this time it wore the Imperial team down and they conceded a well worked try from Anthony shortly before half time. In the second half substitute Jordan came on at number eight and scored a hat-trick of excellent tries with Imperial unable to cope with the power and pace from him and others. The final moments of the match were tense as Birkbeck were only leading 17-10 with minutes to go (meaning an converted try could have levelled the match) however a break led to a wonderful final play try putting the match beyond doubt. This was Birkbeck’s first competitive win and put Birkbeck in with a shout of the LUSL title.
Birkbeck Dragons v Wanstead IIs/IIs (10s rugby)
This match was arranged as an exhibition match, a match where Dragons youth and pace became evident as the match progressed, was a good, fun day with match played in friendly spirit. The Dragons won the match 72 – 66.
Tries scored; Glen x 4, Owen x 2, Jamie x 2, Eric x 2, Dave x 1, Ahmed x 1.
Queen Mary University v Birkbeck Dragons (15 a-side)
Following a wonderful trip to play Queen Mary’s a friendly game was arranged against QMUL with a very strong team fielded by the Dragons. Unfortunately, Dragons started incredibly slowly and were 22-7 down at half time, despite good work from the pack in the scrum. Following an inspiring half time team talk, the Dragons only aim for the second was to score more tries than QMUL. The result was a fantastically entertaining half of rugby where every player from both teams gave their all. With minutes to go Birkbeck had scored 4 second half tries to QMUL’s, unfortunately a kick over the top led to an unlucky bounce behind the Dragon’s winger and a try for QMUL. Second half was level on tries but the Dragons took great heart from an outstanding second half performance. Final score 53 – 29, showed a massive improvement from the earlier game against QMUL. Of note was the return of THE Charles after almost a year’s absence.
Glen (x2), CJ x1, Eric x 1, Fede (x1)
This season saw an overhaul of the squad with several high calibre players joining the squad. The link with Wanstead RFC has been improved, with more ideas to build closer ties in the pipeline and we could not ask for a more welcoming club. The Dragons have won the LUSL league for a second year running, a fantastic achievement and will be competing in the Middlesex Sevens, with a good chance of leaving with some form of honour.
For 2017/18 we are looking at options to join the Essex Merit League, this will allow us to have weekly games and improve as a team, cost-effective options will be ratified over the summer. Next year should be the first year Birkbeck Dragons run a surplus (thanks to the SU purchasing kit this year) The goal for next year is to win LUSL again with 75% win rate and if possible, to qualify for playoffs in the Essex Merit League.
Special thanks to:
Oliver Bowler (President), really took the role on, organising matches, finances, organising kit orders and liaising with The Students Union
Kevin Lau – Birkbeck Staff (sports) as with last year, nothing could have happened without him, has really looked after the Dragons and our contact with the SU. Acted as our team photographer (and played a few matches too!)
Eric Jay (Captain) – Took on the role of Captain at relatively short notice and presided over the Dragons first, impressive win.
Daniel Pycock (Vice Captain) – Has been vocal in his support and motivation of the team, whilst injured, also instrumental in organising training sessions.
Glen Gallogly (ex 1st Captain & founder)