Stephen Leonard calls for memorable win over Royal Navy to serve as summer boost for Cambridge University RUFC
Stephen Leonard hopes that the memory of Cambridge University’s last-gasp victory over the Royal Navy will spur the squad through the summer to the 2019 Varsity Match.
The captain saw the Light Blues produce a brilliant rally from 26-10 down after 74 minutes to win a scrum against the head in the last play of the game to touch down himself, and Jake Hennessey’s conversion completed a 27-26 victory last week.
It completed a rare double over the Armed Forces after the students’ similar last-play 29-22 win over the Army A in the previous match.
“I think the only team I have beaten in the Lent Term out of the services was probably the RAF – I have never beaten the Army,” said the 22-year-old student.
“Admittedly, they came down with probably a more appropriate team to play us, but we still turned up, played well.
“The Navy brought down a good side, a similar team played the Other Place a couple of weeks ago, and we fronted up in the pack and we had very good continuity in our attacking play and managed to get some good tries.
“It was quitesweet (to get the try), but nicer to win.
“Something we’ve said all year is that our effort levels and our heart is always there.
“I think it’s nice in the last two games that we showed when times are really tough – when we defended for 10 minutes against the Army and then get a breakaway try and then against the Navy we attack for the last 10 minutes and score three good tries – our ability actually comes to the fore.
“A lot of the time we work really hard and put a lot of heart into it but it’s all around the middle of the pitch and we don’t really get any reward out of it, so it’s nice it’s shown and on display.”
Only Henry King, former captain Nick Koster and Richard Campbell will finish their studies this summer, so it means that there will be a lot of continuity in the next academic year.
“It’s really exciting as it’s a bunch of guys most of them have been through the journey once, they know what it’s about in the off-season now and they know they need to go away and work really hard,” said Leonard.
“I think they’ve got a bit more appreciation for Varsity term rugby and what that’s all about.
“I’m just certain the guys are absolutely desperate for it because they’ve been through it.
“People were obviously very happy to get on and get their Blues but people are hungry to get more now and have another bite of the cherry.”
Leonard believes that the style of their victory over the Royal Navy was the perfect way to sign off the Lent Term and the academic year.
“I remember last year when it was a complete flood [against the Royal Navy], and everyone left and thought ‘I’m so pleased we’re not playing rugby anymore and I can’t wait to get into the gym’,” said Leonard.
“Hopefully now guys will be really excited to get into the rugby and have good memories of it.”
More by this authorMark Taylor