BY STEVE BALE
West London Institute 31
University College Swansea 30
There were approximately 55,000 fewer people at Twickenham yesterday than were present last Saturday but they witnessed a spectacular universities' final considerably worthier of a full house than the Anglo-Scottish contretemps that preceded it.
You had to feel for Swansea, scorers of four tries (plus a couple disallowed) to West London's one but booted to defeat by the unerring Andy Lee, the Saracens outside-half, who amassed 26 points and finally won the match with his seventh penalty from its very last kick.
And in particular there is Stan Addicott, a figure of great respect in the Welsh game who has taken Swansea to Twickenham seven times in the 24 years he has been the university's rugby coach and has seen his sides lose the lot. Addicott had a successful period as coach of Swansea Rugby Club and was also involved with Wales during the Ron Waldron years, but even in this latter role he never experienced such intensely personal disappointment as this.
With the Universities' Athletic Union having become the British Universities' Sports Association with the widening of university status and a hugely increased number of participating institutions, the quality of this competition has sharply improved, and it showed in yesterday's fantastic match.
No longer is it a case of Loughborough versus the rest - though the Leicestershire university's women did beat De Montford, Bedford, 53-11 in their final - but the very fact that West London had put Loughborough out in the semi- final reflected their high calibre. A year ago they were the beaten finalists.
Yesterday, though, they were on the back foot from the start when Lee Davies's wicked up-and-under eluded Ray Hennessy and the pursuing Gerry Williams scored the first try after 46 seconds. Duncan Hughes then scored Swansea's second try and it was not until they had fallen 17-3 behind that West London at last pulled themselves together.
Another Saracen, the England A flanker Richard Hill, was the main revivalist. But the eradication of the deficit was left exclusively to Lee, who put West London in front with six penalties and then converted a try by Malcolm Kemp that climaxed a length-of-the-field break-out after Rhodri Griffiths had scored Swansea's third.
The finale was as breathless and breathtaking as what had gone before. No sooner had Swansea come back again with Paul Beard's try than Lee restored West London's lead with a drop goal. And no sooner had Hughes dropped a goal than Lee, with the last seconds of stoppage time ticking away, made his winning kick.
West London Institute: Try Kemp; Conversion Lee; Penalties Lee 7; Drop goal Lee. UC Swansea: Tries Williams, Hughes, Griffiths, Beard; Conversions Davies 2; Penalty Davies; Drop goal Hughes.
West London Institute: R Hennessy; A Clarke, M Kemp, S Thompson, R Francis; A Lee, A Down; E Cripps, S Rodgers (capt), I Peel, D Ruffell, D Zaltzman, C Clements, N Jones, R Hill.
University College Swansea: N Ferns; G Williams, D Hughes, D Fitzgerald, A Harris; L Davies, S Powell; A Lewis, D Robbins, A Collins, R Heal, C Yandell, A Little (B Martin, 78), R Griffiths (capt), P Beard.
Referee: D Reordan (United States).Reuse content