Brunel University rugby side urged to hold heads up high after Twickenham defeat

Brunel University rugby coach Paddy Gill heaped praise on his spirited side after they went down in narrow fashion on Papa Johns Community Cup finals day at Twickenham.  

The students enjoyed a memorable run to the Counties 2 Championship final but their cup dreams were shattered at a sun-drenched home of rugby, as Old Rutlishians claimed a deserved 43-31 victory.

The squad had already won the league and while they could not complete the double on their short trip to south-west London, Gill could not have been more proud of his side’s efforts.

“We’ve got a really young squad, a lot of 18 and 19-year-old lads so for them to go out at Twickenham in their first year at Uni is class,” said Gill.

“The lads won the league so to then try and get the double was good, unfortunately it wasn’t the case. But with weather like that and a pitch like that to play on, it’s awesome for them to have that experience.”

Lock Joseph Baccarini scored twice either side of half time to give Brunel hope but it proved in vain as Old Rutlishians’ strong start proved enough for victory.

The students did manage to grab two more late scores, the first a penalty try before the towering Baccarini took his personal tally to a staggering four scores, and captain Noah Dann was delighted with the resolve shown by his side.

“We definitely started on the wrong foot but came straight back into it and showed grit,” he said.

“To come back as we did and get a few tries on the board was great and I’m really proud of the lads. It’s been such an amazing season. Fair play to them, they played really well and it’s been a great day.

“We’re on a journey as a Uni, we want to build through and get to the highest possible level.”

A year-long celebration of community rugby, the Papa Johns Community Cup has enabled clubs to play different opposition and visit new places, while others reignited old local rivalries, all making plenty of memories along the way.

Finals weekend witnessed non-stop action across the country with more matches being held at Sixways Stadium, Shaftesbury Park and Darlington Mowden Park. 

“It’s been great, it’s like that old school style of rugby,” added Gill.

“The lads are in an area where the games tend to be no more than 10 to 20 miles away so going to the Midlands and places like that has been really nice for the boys to get into a longer coach journey against some really tough men’s sides.

“University rugby finishes in March so it’s been nice to give the guys something to play for, it’s an excellent trophy.”

For a round up of all the Papa Johns Community Cup Final action and to watch the games back follow @RFU on X or search for #PapaJohnsCommunityCup

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