2019 Shute Shield GF: Meet the Teams – Sydney University


All photos by AJF Photography


Robert Taylor_Sydney Uni head coach_2018_AJF

Sydney University’s coaching team of Robert Taylor (backs) and assistant Joe Horn-Smith (forwards) take us through their 23 man squad for Saturday’s Intrust Super Shute Shield grand final showdown…



1. HARRY JOHNSON-HOLMES: The Big Red Wombat. When he’s not busy serenading opera singers, he’s a destructive scrummager and powerful ball-carrying prop. Capped this year by the Wallabies against the Springboks as reward for a strong Super Rugby campaign with NSW. Harry remains a shoe-in future Mayor of Newcastle.

2. DECLAN MOORE: After missing almost all of 2018 with his second leg fracture in three years, Declan is a great comeback story, and has had a strong year in 2019, maturing into a dominant 1st Grade player. Part of the 2017 2nd Grade Premiership winning team, he is now a stand-out ball carry threat in 1st Grade, as demonstrated by two line breaks in last weeks semi-final earning the nickname Declan ‘The Raging Bull’ Moore.

3. CHRIS TALAKAI: Chris had a breakout year in 2019, featuring in the matchday 23 in every round of the Super Rugby competition for the Tahs. A wrecking ball at scrum time, he loves the challenge of being able to prove himself week in week out. What can I say this man loves to scrum!

4. LACHLAN SWINTON: Playing in his 3rd Shute Shield Grand Final for SUFC, Lachlan is an explosive character and one of the emotional leaders of this playing group. An immensely popular character amongst this playing group, who debuted at Super Rugby level in 2019 for the Tahs. Lachlan will complete his doctorate in astrophysics in 2020.

5. DAVE McDULING: Big Dave is a well travelled rugby man having played stints in South Africa (Sharks) and New Zealand, where of note he won the Mitre 10 Cup with Canterbury. He has been a mentor to multiple Colts transitioning in to grade, most notably Nick Champion De Crespigny. A powerhouse at scrum time and steady hand around the park, Dave splits his time between the football field and the corporate board room.

6. MITCH WHITELEY: Hailing from the Central West of New South Wales, Mitch is a proud Indigenous Australian. Playing with SUFC since 2013, he has displayed talent every year but has had his progress disrupted by injury. 2019 has seen him establish himself in 1st Grade on a regular basis. Mitch is a part-time footballer, full-time city slicker, working in the real estate sector.

7. JOSH KEMENY: Josh was part of the 2017 SUFC undefeated Colts team, and was subsequently rewarded with a place in the 2018 Australian U20’s team. He has been one of the stars of 2019 with his physical playing style. It’s only a matter of time til Josh is snapped up by a Super Rugby franchise.

8. ROHAN O’REGAN: A product of the SUFC juniors program, Rohan captained the 2018 1st Grade Premiership winning team. After a short off-season sabbatical with the Ealing Trailfinders in the English Championship, Rohan returned to Uni mid-season bringing with him his exceptional leadership.

9. JAKE GORDON: Another product of the SUFC juniors program, ‘Jake the Snake’ starred in the 2018 Shute Shield Grand Final. Unknown to most, his nickname ‘Snake’ actually hails from his elite salsa dancing ability. Jake had to make the tough call in 2018 to walk away from his dancing career and focus on rugby.

10. BEN HUGHES: The former 1st Colts captain has been with SUFC since 2013. Ben is a picture of hard work and perseverance, having had multiple injury set-backs and played for extended periods in lower grades. Ben has taken his opportunity with both hands in 2019. The only thing better than watching him carve up defences on a Saturday, is listening to him on a Saturday night tearing up the stage with his guitar and mic.

11. JAMES KANE: The often villain of the Shute Shield, and the man opposition clubs love to hate. James continues to develop his game in 2019 with his kicking being a standout point of difference. When not playing football, James is an aspiring part-time actor.

12. GUY PORTER: Current 1st Grade captain, Guy leads by example both on and off the field. He is an example to any aspiring professional with a work ethic second-to-none. His power in contact and speed around the field has made him one of the best backs in the Shute Shield over the past two seasons. Without doubt a future Super Rugby star.

13. JAMES DARGAVILLE: ‘Dargs’ returned to SUFC in 2019 after stints with the Brumbies and North Harbour in the Mitre 10 cup. A former SUFC Colt, Darg’s has an exceptional rugby mind and a work ethic to match. Having him back in the group has elevated many of the young backs around him.

14. HARRY POTTER: The magic man himself led the Shute Shield in 2019 in most attacking metrics. He will be returning home to Melbourne for the 2020 season after being recognised and rewarded by the Rebels for his fine form in 2019, and receiving a professional contract. Harry missed the 2018 pre-season when he instead decided to ride solo on a scooter across Vietnam. As you do.

15. TIM CLEMENTS: A huge boost for the playing group after returning from long term injury mid-season. An out-and-out fullback, he is perfectly suited for the role. His vision, understanding of the game, toughness and work rate, are exactly what you need as the man in charge at the back.



16. TOM HORTON: Kept out of the starting line-up through a semi-final injury and sure to contribute to the match day. One of SUFC’s best in 2019, a tough and relentless competitor who plays like Michael Hooper playing at hooker. He has built the physical traits to compete in senior rugby with multiple comparisons drawn to Dane Coles. Tom will only continue to get better as he physically matures. Just a matter of time til we see Tom in a Super Rugby jersey.

17. ANGUS BELL: The boy wonder burst on to the Shute Shield scene with a Man of the Match performance in Round 16 against Norths. An explosive athlete that has a bright future in the game, Angus has forced his way into the 1st Grade matchday 23 through outstanding playing form, despite being only 18-years-old – following in the footsteps of Lachlan Swinton in 2016.

18. MATT SANDELL: Matt has again been a big pillar of the team this year. He is extremely unlucky not to be in the starting line-up. He goes about his business in a very professional manner, and we wouldn’t have made it this far without his consistent efforts throughout the season. Possibly the best un-contracted Prop in Australian Rugby, and still only 24 years old.

19. JACK SHERRATT: From the University brethren across the pond, Jack came via Otago University in 2018 to complete a Masters Degree. Highly passionate about the environment, and how that relationship works in the commercial world we live in.

20. HUGH SUMMERHAYES: Another former Colt in his fifth year at the club, Hugh debuted in 1st Grade in 2018, and has gone on to be a regular impact player off the bench in 2019. An explosive high-speed backrower, he has the ability to break the line and score tries.

21. NICK PHIPPS: A young fella who started in 3rd Colts at the club after making no representative teams at school. This guy has a big future, watch this space.

22. CONOR O’SHEA: With a great kicking game and a very physical defender, Connor is a real luxury coming of the bench and has the ability to control games with his speed of thought.

23. WILL MCDONNELL: A real no-nonsense country lad, who brings a fearless commitment to the contact area and thrives in it. He is a highly-skilled player and sees the game very well.

SYDNEY UNIVERSITY: 1. Harry Johnson-Holmes; 2. Declan Moore; 3. Chris Talakai; 4. Lachlan Swinton; 5. Dave McDuling; 6. Mitch Whiteley; 7. Josh Kemeny; 8. Rohan O’Regan; 9. Jake Gordon; 10. Ben Hughes; 11. James Kane; 12. Guy Porter (c); 13. James Dargaville; 14. Harry Potter; 15. Tim Clements –  Replacements: 16. Tom Horton; 17. Angus Bell; 18. Matt Sandell; 19. Jack Sherratt; 20. Mitch Whiteley; 21. Nick Phipps; 22. Conor O’Shea; 23. Will McDonnell







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