Swansea win first ever Varsity Cymru rugby league match


Ian Golden at Swansea University Sports Park

Swansea University won the first ever “Varsity Cymru” match against their rivals Cardiff University on Wednesday morning just metres from the coastline in front of around 500 fans, most of whom were wearing the green of Swansea or red of Cardiff.

It’s the first season that rugby league has been played in Cardiff University – Swansea’s side originally ran out in 1977 – so it’s the first time that they’ve been able to compete in the big one-day event where over 30 sports are played between the two establishments.

The match was scheduled as the earliest kick-off ever in British Rugby League at 9am, but kick-off was delayed due to the Cardiff side being stuck in rush-hour traffic.

So, at 9.20am, Swansea kicked off the historic game between Wales’ oldest and newest rugby league clubs.

Archie Whillock looked for the first try in the fourth minute as Swansea went on the attack, but he was held up over the line. At the other end, Josh Reed was stopped short of the line in Cardiff’s first real attack.

Defences were definitely on top in the first quarter of the game. Tristan Walters thought he’d given Swansea the lead on 21 minutes but was judged to have been pulled into touch as he grounded the ball.

Finally, on 23 minutes, Whillock forced his way over for the historic first ever Varsity Cymru rugby league try. Thomas Moore converted.

A try in the corner from Jack Hunter extended their lead six minutes later with Moore’s kick hitting the post.

Hunter was quick to follow up with his second try of the game, and Swansea’ third, with Moore landing the kick to put the score onto 16-0.

But as soon as Cardiff regained the ball, they scored. Lloyd Miller reaching out to place the ball under the sticks making the conversion easy for Alex Naylor.

The first half scoring wasn’t over yet. Cardiff were penalised for a professional foul and Moore kicked the penalty in front of the sticks to put Swansea into an 18-6 lead at the break.

Moore was first over the line in the second half, officially 11 minutes in, play having been stopped early on in the period due to injury. He converted his own try.

Cardiff got back into the game again on 56 minutes. Dom Sheath picked us a stray pass on his own 30 metre line and ran all the way himself, converting his own try.

But Swansea secured the win with 13 minutes to go when Whillock scored his second of the game and Moore converted.

Cardiff hadn’t given up. Greg Cook thought he’d scored a consolation, but again defence was on top and he was pulled into touch as he grounded.

They eventually scored with four minutes left. James McLaughlin twisted his way over to score but Naylor couldn’t land the conversion.

But Swansea cemented their win with the final move of the game with an unconverted Cameron Messetter try.

SWANSEA: 1 Harvey Dryland, 2 Jack Hunter, 3 Tristan Walters, 15 Kit Heales, 5. Ollie Moody, 6 Thomas Moore, 7 Euan Owen, 8 Eli Weekes, 9 Charlie Penton, 10 James Sanderson, 11 Archie Whillock (captain), 12 Will Tong, 13 Sam Stradling. Subs: 14. Rahul Vinoy, 4. Evan Moore, 16. Alex Thorpe, 17. James Hirst, 18 Aiden Petit, 19. Alfie Velasco, 20 Cameron Messetter.

Tries: Whillock (23, 67), Hunter (29, 33), Moore (51), Messetter (80)
Goals: Moore 5/7

CARDIFF: 1. Toby Andrews, 2. Pelo Kgatlhanye, 3. Ben Morris, 12. Dom Sheath, 14. Greg Cook, 16. Lloyd Miller, 20. Alex Naylor (captain), 8. Moses Fakava, 9. Josh Reed, 10. James McLaughlin, 6. Alex Darling, 11. Brandon Cahill, 13. Rhys Hill. Subs: 17. Sam Chaloner, 4. James Lake, 23. Amar Ali, 24. Callum Willington, 5. Jonny Sutcliffe, 19. Rory Dekan, 21. Tom Dailley.

Tries: Miller (37), Sheath (56), McLaughlin (76)
Goals: Naylor 1/2, Sheath 1/1

Referee: Malcolm Holmes
Half-time: 18-6