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CBS Canterbury Division 1
Last Friday night players from the Lincoln University Division 1 squad gathered together. It was the day before their club day. They met to hear some of the past members of the club talk about their club’s heritage.
Lincoln University remains one of the great clubs of Canterbury rugby. In 1981 for example the club won the Metro title and 13 of their players went on to play for Canterbury such was their collective strength.
The 2009 squad is a team with undoubted potential. Coached this season by Mark Herbert and Allan Lindsay, the average age of their squad is younger than most others, although it means that there is plenty of promise.
Most prominent is lock Sam Whitelock (who played for Canterbury last season and is likely to do so again this season) and flanker and captain Tim Emery, another former Canterbury Colt and promising player.
“They are really at the head of our leadership group,” Mark says, “although we haven’t been helped by having five players out with injury at the moment.”
Other prominent players include second-five Shaun Hill (who is from Auckland) and utility back Nick McLennan, who is currently playing first five-eight. Half-back Kerry Robb has also been prominent.
“The guys have been frustrated,” Mark says. “In most of our matches this season we have been very competitive but have been let down by our mistakes. Against New Brighton last weekend for example we were down 12-5 at half-time before losing 25-5.”
Against championship leaders Christchurch the students were in the match until the last 20 minutes. It might be a sign that they are a season or two away from reaching their potential.
“What we will be trying to do is keep these guys together when they finish their courses. If we can establish some continuity then we will be much better in the next few seasons.”
University rugby is course a unique thing in the club competition and Mark says that it is “incredibly nurturing”. In other words, much time and effort is spent on developing the players on and off the field.
For Mark and Allan it is a long way from Linfield Park, where the duo was coaching last season. “I had decided to take this season off, although I was asked by a couple of the students to put my name forward and so I did,” Mark says.
Mark says that his players enjoy the distinct identity that comes from playing for Lincoln University. “A lot of our guys have played first XV rugby and they enjoy that sort of spirit that also exists in university rugby.”
With three matches in round one remaining, Mark says that his side is aiming to win two and then steadily improve going into round two. “The potential in this side is huge and it is so enjoyable to be a part of it.”
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