John Butler takes a look at Saturday’s visitors to Butts Park Arena, Loughborough Students, for the opening game of the National League One season (kick-off 3pm).
It was the students themselves who, back in 1919, formed the first student team at the College. In terms of the Universities Athletic Union, Loughborough’s first game was played in season 1930-31.
Over the decades, Loughborough have produced many great players who have gone on to grace the game at a higher level. Two of them were to become future captains of England, hooker Eric Evans also of Sale and centre three-quarter Jeff Butterfield (Northampton), a contemporary of our own Peter Jackson. A third, Welshman Ray Williams also went on to become secretary of his home Union.
Down the years Loughborough have many times graced the Middlesex Sevens, and in the 2008-09 season that they became the first Student side to win promotion to the National Leagues. By the end of the 2011-12 season they had been promoted to National League One where they have remained since.
In charge of affairs, as he has been now for some time, is head coach Dave Morris with additional new coaches being Gerard Mullen and George Chuter, the latter remembered of course from his days with the Leicester Tigers forwards.
Last season saw Loughborough finish in 13th place, close to where they had been most of the time and just one position above the relegation places, so no doubt this time round they will be looking to ease themselves into safer territory.
They have in recent seasons built successful links with a number of Premiership clubs and during the build up to this season something approaching 20 new recruits have been brought in. One of their departures was back row Sam Harry, who is now with ourselves at Cov Rugby.
Loughborough completed their pre-season matches last weekend with a 46-21 defeat at new Championship outfit London Irish.
Our two clubs met twice in friendly fixtures in the early 1990s, each side winning once, and one has to move forward some 20 years before league fixtures began in season 2012-13.
Today is the ninth such meeting in National One and Coventry Rugby has won all eight matches played with our biggest margin of victory coming on last season’s visit to the Loughborough Campus, 48-12.