The first semester of the 2011-12 university sport season brought all the highs and lows expected for a relatively small institution like St Andrews. Saint Sport assesses the progress made by some of the AU clubs and their chances for league victories, promotions and silverware come the season’s end.
We start with Fencing, who had one of the finest years of all the clubs in 2010-11, as the Men’s 1sts finished runners-up in the BUCS Championship and so could claim to be the second best university fencing team in the UK.
Having begun 2012 with a comfortable 132-110 home victory over Durham, the team now looks forward to the quarter-finals of the 2011-12 BUCS Championship. Victory in February’s match against either the University of London or King’s College will put them through to the final four for the second consecutive season – it would be a notable achievement, considering the team is essentially undergoing a period of transition.
The University’s Football clubs have had a distinguished season of progression. The Women’s 1sts finished second in the BUCS Scottish 2A League and are into the quarter-finals of the Scottish Conference Cup, facing Queen Margaret’s University at home on 15 February.
The Men’s 1sts are also in the quarter-finals of their equivalent competition, with Strathclyde up next for them. League-wise, they presently sit in second place in BUCS Scottish 3A, only a point off first. Games against Dundee (home) and current leaders Glasgow Caledonian (away) will prove crucial.
The Men’s 2nds, meanwhile, have five fixtures to play this semester, hoping to win the BUCS Scottish 7A League and challenge for the Scottish Conference Plate.
As for Golf, the Mixed 1sts came second in the BUCS Scottish 1A League, edged out by Stirling, while the 2nds and 3rds also placed second in their respective divisions. The 1st team have one more match to look forward to, hosting Edinburgh in the BUCS Golf Championship Last 16.
In Hockey, it has so far been a frustrating season for both the Men’s and Women’s 1sts, but the Men’s and Women’s 2nds, plus the Women’s 4ths, look well-placed for potential domestic promotions.
The less said about the Men’s Lacrosse team’s season the better, unfortunately, as they have really struggled in the BUCS Premier North Division.
By contrast, the Women’s 1sts have flourished. They are top of the BUCS Scottish 1A League with six wins from six matches and a +77 goal difference. With four fixtures left (three of those being at home), the team will be confident of winning the league and thereby qualifying for the BUCS Premier play-offs as they did last season.
One of the most outstanding performances so far this year has come from the Men’s Table Tennis 1sts, who won the BUCS Scottish 1st division at a canter with a 100% record in their eight matches. They travel to play East Anglia Men’s 1sts in the BUCS Championship quarter-finals on 22 February, aiming to continue their success from the first semester.
Andy Murray again had a decent tournament in Australia, but came up short. Much the same can be said for the Saints Tennis teams in the first semester. The Women’s 1sts were knocked out of the BUCS Tennis Championship, yet are still in with a shot of winning the BUCS Scottish 1A League – their match away to Stirling on 7 March could prove the decider between the two sides.
The Men’s 1sts have two games to consolidate their mid-table position in the equivalent men’s division, while the Women’s 2nds also have two fixtures left – a win in either of them should be enough to preserve their 1A league status.
The Men’s 2nd team can seal promotion from the 3A division by winning both of their last two matches, while the Women’s 3rds remain in the Scottish Conference Cup and play Glasgow 2nds on 29 February.
Another of the University’s most successful sports is Volleyball, with the Women’s 1sts winning the 2010-11 BUCS Trophy in Sheffield. They look set for a mid-table finish in the top tier of Scottish Volleyball, while they are into the quarter-finals of the Trophy. A win against Glasgow on 22 February would take them one step closer to defending their Trophy crown.
As for the Men’s 1sts, they have a Scottish Conference Cup campaign to look forward to (as do the Women’s 2nds), as well as attempting to apply the pressure on leaders Glasgow in the BUCS Scottish 2A League. If they can win both of their remaining games, top spot might just be theirs.
The final club to have come to our attention in BUCS competition is the Water Polo Club. While the Men’s regular season is over (they finished second to Newcastle in the BUCS 2A League), the Women’s 1sts have three matches still to play, starting with Dundee (home) on 15 February, which could see them consolidate top spot in the BUCS 2A division.
In short, there’s plenty to look forward to from a Saints Sport point of view this semester, with the potential for clubs to punch above their weight once again. To see what fixtures you can support the St Andrews teams at, see http://www.thesaint-online.com/sport/saints-sport-fixtures/, while The Saint will of course cover their progress (if all goes well) all the way to the 2012 BUCS Championships in Sheffield in March.