The Melbourne Unicorns and Melbourne University will make history on Saturday 1 May, hosting the first-ever community rugby Pride Cup.
Both teams will be hoping to replicate their round 1 form after suffering tough losses last Saturday.
The Unicorns came up against a near full-strength Power House side, falling to a 0-69 defeat.
While a valiant Melbourne University fought until the final whistle in their 24-39 loss to Western Districts.
We caught up with both sides before their Round 3 clash to hear their thoughts on their sides preparations and what they believe the opposition will bring game day.
How was your pre-season with the Melbourne Unicorns?
Yeah really good. Obviously coming out of Covid it was challenging at first getting back into things. The social aspect of it was really good. It was challenging as everyone was a little bit unfit after Covid. But it was great socialising, getting back into fitness and meeting each other as we are a fairly new team.
What do you love most about the return of rugby this season?
I think the return has been fantastic in terms of socialising, getting fit and getting back into the community.
The Melbourne Unicorns sit 1-1 after two rounds, how do you feel your side has performed so far this season?
Each team we have played against have had their own strengths. The hardest thing for us is a lot of us are fairly new so we are all learning how to play together. That has also been a win for us because we’ve been thrown into the deep end, gotten in there and communicating as a team. The biggest challenge has been our defence line, but we are working on that and it can only get better.
You personally had a great game last week, but the side had a tough loss to Power House. What do you take away from that clash?
It was a tough loss; there is a lot to take away from that. The biggest one for us is learning how we all play as a team together. That has been a big challenge. Our defence line is another key thing we need to work on. With loss comes a lot of learning as well, so that is the positive thing to come out of it.
What players have impressed you this season?
It’s hard to pick one or two. Honestly, the whole team has been great. Mina Gonzales Luna, one of our forwards, has only played a couple of games, but she is an absolute machine. She gives it everything and is really inspiring to be honest. Caoilfhionn Culliton, one of our backs, used to referee previously so she gives us some great tips out on the field.
What do you think Melbourne University will bring to the match-up?
I haven’t actually played Melbourne University yet, but I have watched a couple of their games against our girls. From what I can see, they are a fairly strong new team with a couple of key players. They play a fast-paced game which is what we play as well. We’ve got to get back to our basics, do what we do best, stick to our structures and what we do at training. We’re going to give it all we’ve got.
What does it mean for the club to host the inaugural Pride Cup match?
It is fantastic. We are creating an environment that is making people feel included. As a sporting club, we are the heart of the community. By hosting the Pride Cup, it gets everyone talking about the challenges of the LGBTI community and creating that inclusive environment for everyone.
Melbourne University Captain Emily Harvey
How did your pre-season preparations come along?
It was a good pre-season. It was good to get around the girls finally after such a long time off. We were really keen to have the girls return from the Aon7s squad and have them back in the team.
How did your side perform in the trial matches?
We have quite a few new girls in the squad. So, it’s good being able to mentor the girls, get around them, get everyone involved and just get back to playing rugby.
What players are you expecting to fire this season?
Kelera Ratu is joining our squad from Aon7s. She has some great potential at 9 and on the wing. Also, the experience of Twin Kupa in the forward pack will be good to watch.
What your sides expectations this year?
We want to build on our last season. It’s been a long break for us, so just building on our comradery we had last year. We want to contest in all our games and have a good season ahead.
What do you love most about the return of rugby this year?
Just getting back to playing. It’s been a long time coming. Just getting the boots on and getting around the girls and having a good season ahead.
What do you think the Unicorns will bring to the match-up in Round 3?
We had a trial match against them earlier in the year. They were a good contest for us, I think we are evenly matched. It will be great to test out our skills and hit it up hard against them.
Pride Cup kick-off times: 11:30am Melbourne Chargers v Cerberus, 1pm Pride Cup Presentation by Ellia Green OAM followed by keynote speaker and presentation, 1:30pm Lindroth Cup – Melbourne Unicorns v Melbourne University, 3:15pm Dewar Shield – Melbourne Unicorns v Melbourne University.