By Jonathan Evans
West Leeds RUFC’s first XV have promotion in their sights after putting last season’s Twickenham heartbreak behind them with a 17-match unbeaten run.
With 14 wins and three draws they currently sit top of Yorkshire Division Two, but only hold a four point advantage at the summit over Keighley RUFC with nine games remaining.
On the key to the excellent season so far, head coach Andy Neeve says: “I think it is the fear of losing that drives the players the most. They don’t want to be the players who end the undefeated season.”
The side has managed to achieve this success despite a defeat in the RFU Senior Vase Final last season at Twickenham. They look to make it back to the home of English Rugby this year, with Whitley Bay their opponents in the next round. A victory would leave them needing only two more wins to return to the famous ground.
Captain Sam Neeve has hailed the continuity of the team, saying: “A lot of us came through the juniors together and now we’re a bit more grown up and experienced we’ve turned that into a massive positive. We’ve put a major emphasis on the social side of things so we aren’t just teammates we are all big mates as well.”
The coach also tells of where he believes the success originated from a close defeat to a past Yorkshire Shield champion a couple of years ago: “We managed to stick in there and score two tries in the last five minutes. From that point we’ve thought that we should be doing better than we are in Yorkshire Two.”
The club, founded in 1926, currently have three senior sides as well as a thriving junior division.
Chairman and first XV backs coach Phil Christopher says that the club know their goals for the future: “We are looking to get promotion up into Yorkshire One and consolidate when we get there. We have nearly got there before so it’s important we see out this season first.”
Christopher also says that the team’s success hinges on their ethos: “We are still amateurs and we feel that we would be going the wrong way as a club if we were to start paying out big money to bring in players.”