Following a Varsity clean-sweep in 2010, the Warwick Hockey club will be hoping to replicate similar success this year.
In 2010, three men’s and two women’s teams completed a maximum ten-point haul for the University, but this year there will be one less men’s team taking part. In recent years the Hockey team has been a Varsity stalwart often providing maximum points, as has been the case since 2008.
After a successful two week pre-season fitness campaign, followed by a tour to Sheffield, men’s Hockey looked primed for a good year. Despite losing a number of first team players, including an England U-21 international last year, they have rebuilt tremendously.
With an injection from an excellent crop of freshers, the first team have been doing well with one of the best defences in the league. Likewise, the second team have also been doing well in their league campaign, pushing for promotion. However, both are currently embroiled in relegation scraps in their respective BUCS leagues.
The Warwick second team played the Coventry first team in the autumn and it was a very close-fought game ending 2-1 to Coventry, which bodes well for the Warwick first team.
Second team midfielder Carl Pugh claims it is a shame that Coventry have withdrawn a Hockey team due to the recent successes of Warwick, thus meaning that two points will not be gained, and fewer players will be involved in Varsity.
The women’s Hockey team have likewise had a successful season thus far, currently sitting joint top of their BUCS league with their eyes firmly on promotion. With both women’s teams enjoying success last year, first team captain Sarah Cooper is determined to continue the trend and is looking for more goals this time around. Similarly to the men’s sides, the women lost some influential players at the end of last season but have now established a settled side targeting further success against their near rivals.
Pugh states that Warwick are under no illusions when it comes to what they are expecting from Coventry, due to frequent encounters between the two teams throughout the season. They are a team capable of causing some difficulties. Despite this, he believes that overall Warwick has a stronger array of talent to call upon, and is fully confident of victories in both the men’s games. He claims that “the first team’s fire-power up front should cause headaches for Coventry, whilst the second team’s midfield engine will be more than enough to secure a comfortable victory”.
The first team have two outstanding centre halves in Peter Gow and Stuart Evans who will dictate the tempo of the game, and will provide the solid foundations from which the whole team can work from. Offensively, the first team can rely on club leading goalscorer Harry Wilson to be among the goals come 16 March. Being strong all over the park and playing in front of a supportive Warwick crowd, the first team are likely to take the game to Coventry, and are capable of scoring all manner of goals; a slick short-corner routine is bound to pay dividends.
The second team typically enjoy the lion’s share of possession in games, but have been susceptible to a breakdown in play when the ball reaches the opposition’s 25. Pugh has stressed the importance of patient build-up and ball retention as key factors in the outcome of the upcoming clash.
Onlookers will see a team happy to pass the ball around for long periods of the game, but in Varsity, a more direct approach might be adopted. The second team’s work-rate is exemplified by their skipper, Jonathan Absolon, who is the conduit through which all play is engineered.
In Rob Ellis at right-midfield, the second team possess a genuine speed merchant who has hit top form just at the right time for the Varsity game.
Warwick students should be extremely optimistic about the Hockey team’s chances this year, following their domination over their Coventry rivals in recent times. Spectators will be treated to fast-flowing, liquid hockey that is easy on the eye and hopefully eight more points towards our Varsity total!
**Interview: Women’s First Team Captain Sarah Cooper**
**How has the season gone for women’s hockey so far?**
In BUCS we are sitting joint top of the table and have our eyes firmly set on promotion.
**How did the game against Coventry go last year?**
We won 3-2. This year we want more goals!
**What does varsity mean for your squad? Is there a bitter rivalry?**
Shoe the Poly! Definitely…
**Who are the real characters in your squad?**
Courtney, our goalie. She is something special.
**Where will the match be won and lost?**
It will be won by our pure skill and determination. The poly will not know what has hit them.
**Finally, can you give us your predictions for the game?**
Prediction? Warwick 6-0