If one man is rueing the extended Shute Shield hiatus brought about by COVID-19, it’s Tim Clements.
Not only were his Students undefeated and seemingly unstoppable, but he himself was compiling a scintillating year and attracting the welcome attention of Catchpole Medal voters.
Clements admits the confidence within the Sydney Uni camp was sky-high.
“I think the belief was coming not necessarily just from the results but because of how hard we were working during the week,” he said.
“We were spurred on by how competitive training was and how much enjoyment were we getting out there as a group.”
The Students juggernaut holds the only unbeaten record in the competition after a streak of nine victories.
Unsurprisingly, they also boast a points differential of over 280-points, averaging nearly 48-points per match.
However, Clements denies any talk of their dominance within the playing group.
“We are an incredibly internally focused Club,” he said.
“We ensure we do our due diligence during the week and never let our standards slip. That’s what’s driving our squad.
“There’s been very little focus on the ladder or how other Clubs are progressing.”
In a team of well performing Students, Clements has caught the eye in season 2021 and says he now feels at home in the fullback jersey.
The 23-year-old has notched up over fifty First Grade appearances for Sydney Uni since debuting for the top side in 2017, quickly becoming a mainstay for Coach Phil Blake in a squad seeping with talent.
Clements performance against Randwick in Round Nine was particularly notable and is sure to notch the fullback strong Catchpole votes.
Along with his second half try, Clements amassed 229 carry metres, 4 linebreaks and 3 offloads on route to his sides dominate 57-17 win at Coogee Oval.
But the ever humble Lane Cove Junior says he’s just happy to be contributing to a winning team.
“Catchpole Medal votes are unexpected, as is usually the case with individual accolades in team sports,” he said.
“I’ve drawn a lot of confidence from being around this group and competing at Shute Shield level for a few years.
“I’m just grateful that I can help out my teammates and continue to get picked in this side.”
Along with his reliable defensive work for the Students, Clements has been able to assert himself more offensively in 2021, tallying up six tries through his nine appearances.
He says part of his attacking success is thanks to the confidence instilled from coaching staff and a license to experiment with ball in hand.
“We back ourselves immensely,” he said.
“Everyone in the group is empowered to try a skill they’ve been training during the week out there on a Saturday.
“Our training efforts and coaching staff encouragement give us the confidence to know we can score from anywhere.”
Another Student who is making the most of his attacking license in 2021 is scrumhalf Henry Robertson.
The 21-year-old has firmed into scrumhalf superiority amongst the Students ranks in 2021, whilst also earning his Waratahs debut against the Brumbies in Round Two of the Super Rugby AU season.
Robertson’s attacking mindset and accurate kicking game continuously earns Sydney Uni dominant field position and is sure to secure the young scrumhalf strong Catchpole Medal votes also.
Clements says he’s not at all surprised by Robertson’s rise through the ranks.
“His [Robertson’s] skill set is well beyond his years and Shute Shield experience,” he said.
“We expected big things from Robbo and he is beginning to really fulfill his potential.
“He’s been exceptional for us and is a big reason for our success so far this year.”
While nobody can deny the Students Shute Shield dominance in recent history, winning eleven trophies in the last twenty seasons, no Sydney Uni player has taken home the Catchpole Medal since 1998.
Could Clements be the first Student since Mark Catchpole, some 23 years ago, to be awarded the Shute Shields highest individual accolade?
BJ Hartmann – Manly
Hunter Ward – Manly
Kaliova Nacina – West Harbour
Otto-Louis Wendt – West Harbour
Sam Babb – Two Blues
Tevita Vea – Two Blues
Tim Clements – Sydney University
Henry Robertson – Sydney University