Twickenham calling: Varsity rugby preview

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In a week which has seen the University’s rugby union Blues take on both the cryptically named Major Stanley’s XV and Sydney University, it is only right that we at Cherwell turn our attention to the upcoming Varsity game. It’s only 14 days away.

Of course in rugby, two weeks is a long time. But at this stage in
the season we are well placed to take stock, and consider how our boys
will perform on the big- gest stage, especially as there is only one warm-up remaining before the big one. It’s now or never to stake a claim for a spot in a very long history.

The Tabs have had a mixed year so far too, with losses against professional sides Saracens and Bristol, but a resounding victory against National Championship side London Scottish will have done their confidence no harm as the run up to the Varsity game continues. 

History

The history of The Varsity Match extends back to early 1872. It was a year af- ter the first ever rugby international (England v Scotland). Both Cambridge and Oxford sent officials to meet and arrange a match between each other. At The Parks, Oxford, they played a 20 a-side version of the game (as opposed to today’s 15 a-side games; the teams would be set to 15a-side by 1875). Oxford won the inaugural meeting. In that first match, Oxford wore dark blue jerseys (the same as today, though at some stages they wore white), however, Cambridge played in pink, changing to their blue and white in 1876. Matches were played at the Oval 1873-80, Blackheath 1881-87, Queen’s Club 1888-1921, and Twickenham since then.

Since 1871 the match has been played every year apart from during WWI.

Last 5 years’ results:
2008 Oxford 33 – 29 Cambridge

2009 Oxford 27 – 31 Cambridge

2010 Oxford 21 – 10 Cambridge

2011 Oxford 28 – 10 Cambridge

2012 Oxford 26 -19 Cambridge 

Varsity results, 1872-2012 61 56

14 draws 

Cherwell Sport’s comprehensive OURFC form guide

With the end of term approaching. this guide takes you through the Blues’ successes and failures this term – and the games still to come.

Vs Biarritz Espoirs – This was the first game of the season against a team of full time professionals and the Blues were unlucky to not come through on top. A promising start to the season in the Pyrenees. 21 – 25 Defeat

Vs Bayonne Espoirs – A slightly less pleasing performance but nevertheless encouraging to run a team such as Bayonne close so early on in the season. 12 – 21 Defeat

Vs Richmond FC – First match of the regular season saw a trip to play National 1 side Richmond FC. A team who had clearly spent more time together meant it was 0 from 3 in September. 10 -19 Defeat

Vs Trinity College Dublin – A traditional fixture against old rivals and friends TCD. TCD play in All Ireland 1B rather than inter uni competitions, the equivalent of National 1 over here. A scrappy affair in which the Blues showed a lot of grit to pull through 6 – 3 winners. Victory

Vs Newport Gwent Dragons – The Blues 3rd top flight opposition of the season brought Rabo Direct Pro 12 (the Magners League) to Iffley Road. Once again, the full time professionals scraped through, 18 – 20, though the Blues put in a real performance for 60 minutes, encouraging steps forward. Defeat

Vs Ealing Trailfinders – An away trip to struggling Championship side Ealing saw the Blues come away with a comfortable victory. The Blues were comprehensive in making their dominance count and only a thunderstorm curtailed the free scoring Blues. 31 – 7 Victory

Vs Worcester Warriors – Premiership outfit made the trip down to Iffley road, repeating a similar pattern as seen against Biarritz, Bayonne and Newport. A strong 60 minutes, only for the Blues to be pipped. 25 – 34 Defeat

Vs Russia – The Russian national team visited Iffley Road for the second time in as many years. The Blues had a phenomenal start, leading at half time, and with a minute on the clock had a 50m penalty to win. The kick drifted agonisingly wide, and the Russians scored on the counter attack. 24 – 31 Defeat

Vs Major Stanley’s XV – The traditional Michaelmas fixture. Before the professional era the Major Stanley’s XV match was used as England trials for the home nations tournament, now the invitational side still attracts some big names. The Stanley’s XV fielded 6 internationals alongside club players from London and Oxfordshire. However, their barbarian style play couldn’t hold up against the Blues well worked attacking structure and strong defensive strategy. A comfortable win for the Blues, 40 – 14 Victory

Vs Sydney University – The undisputed top ‘footy’ club in Australia only usurped by the Super 15 franchises (all Super 15 players also belong to a club. Sydney Uni players include Israel Folau along with over 15 other NSW Waratahs!)SUFC – on their 150th anniversary tour of the British Isles, were beaten by a strong home performance as OURFC came back from a slow start against jet-lagged opponents. As they are soon to play Cambridge, Sydney will be a key barometer of where our boys stand in comparison to their foes in the Fens. Victory

Still to play

Vs Esher – The final game before The Varsity Match, and the last before the squad is announced. Always a very nervy fixture but a key one to make final decisions and prepare for the match on the 12th.

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