Sport writer Steffan Thomas sits down with men’s rugby captain James Thomas to discuss CURFC’s chances ahead of the Welsh Varsity showdown this Wednesday
Wednesday will see the culmination of a season of hard work for Cardiff University RFC captain James Thomas.
Despite the end of a season that has seen Cardiff finish at the foot of the BUCS Premier South A table, Thomas is adamant that his side possess the capability to end the season on a high by gaining revenge over arch-rivals Swansea at the Millennium Stadium.
“Preparations have been going well,” said the 23-year-old Thomas.
“It was a bit stop-start towards the end of the season because we had a Cup game to play.
“Then we thought that we were going to have to play a play-off, but that’s been rearranged now, so it’s been better when all the focus is on this game [Varsity] rather than other games.”
Cardiff’s season, by all accounts, has been a disappointing one, with an end of season play-off cancellation meaning that they will maintain their BUCS Premier League status for next season.
However, despite results not going Cardiff’s way, Thomas’ side did triumph over Swansea at Cardiff Arms Park in February. The significance of this is not lost on Thomas, who is of the opinion that it will give his men an all-important psychological advantage going into Wednesday’s eagerly anticipated encounter.
“Last year was the same – we lost away and then beat them at home, so it’s the same this year as well. I think it’s 50:50, but after beating them recently it most definitely gives us a psychological advantage.”
Thomas acknowledges that both sides have their respective strengths and weaknesses, but is insistent that his side will be superior physically.
“I think we have a better pack than them,” insisted Thomas.
“We scored off two driving lineouts when we played them at home last time.
“I think it will suit us to play a forward-orientated game, rather than an open game. We’ve got good backs as well, but if we kick the ball loosely to them they have a really potent back three.
“We will be trying to move our ball carriers around the field because I don’t think they have as dynamic a pack as we have got.
“That being the case, we do want to be confrontational, but in the right areas.”
The Welsh Varsity encounter will be somewhat different to what the Cardiff players are used to, with the game being played in the iconic 74,500-capacity Millennium Stadium.
Thomas is also excited at the fact that his players will be in the shop window, with professional coaches known to watch the prestigious encounter.
“Just because of the nature of the game, I think a lot of coaches will be watching it. If you can perform in a game like that, you prove that you can perform at a higher level.
“Players like Ross Wardle are a great example of guys who have played at university for three years and then got a professional contract straight after it.”
Varsity success isn’t the only important issue on the Cardiff skipper’s mind. The dynamic back-row forward has impressed in the Principality Premiership with Bedwas and was named Principality Premiership Player of the Month for January. Thomas is targeting a career as a professional rugby player once he has completed his degree.
“I have another year left in university, but after that I will be looking to play full-time.
“I’m enjoying my rugby at Bedwas at the moment and I’m staying there next season as well.”
One can’t help but feel that if Thomas can lead his side to victory on the big occasion on Wednesday, then a professional contract might just be around the corner.