UCS Old Boys chief expects decisive final-day duel with relegation rivals Wasps

James May gave UCS Old Boys the lead against Datchworth on Saturday, scoring the opening try, but hi

James May gave UCS Old Boys the lead against Datchworth on Saturday, scoring the opening try, but his side were defeated. Pic: Nick Cook/UCS Old Boys - Credit: Archant

UCS Old Boys’ director of rugby admits the first team are expecting a final-day showdown with struggling rivals Wasps as their attempt to avoid a second successive relegation goes to the wire.

UCS lost 31-7 at Datchworth in London North-West Division Three on Saturday, despite leading 7-0 in the first half after a try from James May and a conversion from Rory Gibson.

The Old Boys were also well in the game at the break as the sides went into the interval locked at 7-7, but Stefan Filip broke his leg in the second period and the visitors ran out of gas as the contest got away from them.

With two games remaining, UCS are only above Wasps – who share their points total – and the relegation places because they have won one more game than their rivals.

Both sides face tough tests this weekend, with the Old Boys hosting third-placed Belsize Park while Wasps visit league leaders Fullerians – and they then go head to head on the final day on April 11 in what is expected to be a decisive showdown.

“It’s very unlikely either side’s going to win this weekend,” UCS’s director of rugby Geoff Boxer told Ham&High Sport. “My guess is it will all come down to the last game.

“It makes it exciting. In a way it’s probably better to finish with something meaningful than being in the middle of the table. Obviously we’ll hope to win that and stay up.

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“All our players know it’s in our hands and that’s the way you always like to be in sport. You always like to know that if you produce a performance it’s in your own hands, so we’re confident if it goes to the last game.”

UCS were plying their trade in London North-West Division Two last season and, having dropped down a step, they are in danger of doing so again in the coming weeks.

However, Boxer insists that would not be a disaster and that the close connection with University College School mitigates the risk of losing players.

“Rugby is very cyclical in lots of ways - clubs go through high points and low points,” he said. “We got high up in Level Seven and we had a very strong, experienced group of players at that time.

“We’re rebuilding and in the end if we are relegated a lot of those younger players will perhaps find a level where they can express themselves.

“We were relegated from Level Seven last year and obviously we don’t want to be relegated from Level Eight at well, but clubs go through periods when they rebuild.

“The club’s very strong in terms of its model because it’s very close to the school. It’s one of the few old boys’ sides to have a very close relationship with the school so we have a feeder of players through, but it takes a while for some of those players to get used to this standard. Learning your rugby in Level Seven or Level Eight is quite tough.

“We think our model is sustainable and we have more coaches available now than we’ve ever had, which is great.”