Before they headed south to Twickenham for their BUCS Championship final on Thursday, SCRUM Web Editor Gary Heatly caught up with the Edinburgh University Ladies coaching staff and a key player:
Edinburgh University Ladies will look to complete a unique BT Murrayfield and Twickenham double on Thursday.
The capital side won at the national stadium in Edinburgh in the Varsity match against St Andrews University in September and now they are taking on Northumbria University in the BUCS Championship final at Twickenham in London at 3pm on Thursday.
Last week Edinburgh went into Wednesday’s semi-final with Durham University at Peffermill in fine fettle.
They had already won the BUCS Premier North league this season and had their Scotland players back from the 6 Nations.
Durham started strongly, but it was Edinburgh who led 7-0 at the interval.
The second half continued much the same way, with Durham putting phases together and Edinburgh never really getting into their stride. Durham pulled a try back, but this was quickly followed by Megan Gaffney re-establishing the lead for Edinburgh.
Durham then crossed to close the gap to two points before in the last six minutes of the match two tries from Lisa Thomson meant a 22-10 victory for the Scots.
Head Coach Claire Cruikshank said: “The end result looks quite comfortable, however the game was anything but that. Until the last six minutes it really could have gone either way, credit to the players for sticking to their task and battling through.
“Qualifying for the final is a massive achievement, this hasn’t been achieved by a Scottish university in 19 years, before many of our current team were actually born!
“Much of what it means to the Uni is the same as it means to the players and coaches. To see the development of the team over the season is pleasing, we’ve overcome some obstacles and things haven’t always gone our way, but it’s how we’ve reacted to these setbacks that have lead us to this final.
“To get to the final is a huge achievement, we’ve had the goal for a number of years, but we’ve always fallen just short in the knock-outs, so to reach the final is a huge achievement and everyone is over the moon.
“We’re all now looking forward to performing on the big stage on Thursday.”
Claire’s Assistant Coach Gordon Lyon added: “One of the biggest things we have seen this year is how the players have developed their understanding the game.
“We have taken an approach that continually challenges the players both physically and mentally in training and in games. The team has faced different types of battles this year from physical challenges to going behind early and having to fight back, I believe this has contributed to their game understanding, confidence and resilience.
“Over the past few weeks I have seen a real instalment of mentality and confidence and have been sitting back and really enjoying watching them train, solving problems, raising to the challenge and staying calm and composed. This as a coach is when you start to think, yes they get it and they may now be ready for the big challenge.
“We have talked to the players about opportunity and expectation. We hope they realise the chance that they have and how thousands would love to be in their shoes. They have responded well, leaving no stone unturned in their preparation. It is impressive to see students so diligent to balance study and training to maximise their preparation.
“As a coaching team it is not lost on us that it is the biggest coaching event of our careers too, there have been many, many messages and phone calls made along with some sleepless nights.
“We now have to sit back and let the players do what they have been training so hard to do.”
WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
— BUCS Super Rugby (@BUCSsuperrugby) March 28, 2017
Scrum-half Sarah Law has played in some big matches in her career with Scotland, but the 22-year-old cannot wait for this one.
“I think the overriding feeling in the squad at the moment is of excitement,” she stated.
“It’s a new experience for all of us, and I think we are beginning to realise how special this opportunity it is.
“This team has come a huge way since I was first involved five years ago. We’ve gone through a cycle of relegation from the British league, winning the Scottish league and then struggling to just maintain our position in that league and then finally to winning the league this year and also reaching the Championship final.
“Northumbria will present a massive challenge. We’ve played them twice this season and each team has won at home, so on a neutral ground it’s all to play for.
“I think this team is ready though.
“After such a fantastic season, we’ll be looking to put in a performance that does justice to the early morning gym sessions, the late nights training in the snow and hail, and the general hard graft that has been put in by every member of this squad this season.
“To win at Twickenham would be the best finish to what has already been an incredible season.”
Thanks to Adrian Henry/Rugby People for the photo
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