The annual Major Stanley’s match between Oxford’s Blues and an invitational XV is set to undergo significant changes as Oxford’s opponents will, for the first time, cease to be Major R.V. Stanley’s XV.
The change will see the Men’s Blues take on Cardiff RFC instead, a team currently sitting in 11th place in the Welsh Rugby Union Principality Premiership.
With a history thought to date back to 1894, Stanley’s match, named after the Oxford local who first raised the side to take on Oxford University’s team, has seen an illustrious array of international players facing up against the Blues.
Oxford have recently dominated the matches however, scoring at least 39 points in each of the last three fixtures, raising questions as to the quality of the invitational side and the importance of the annual fixture.
Tim Stephens, OURFC’s general manager, explained the reasoning behind the change, telling Cherwell: “Since the game went professional in 1995, year on year it has proved increasingly difficult to pull together an invitational side worthy of representing the Major Stanley’s XV, with Directors of Rugby and Head Coaches reluctant to release their players for what they perceive to be a non-important fixture, a change was needed.”
“We hope that by making this tweak of creating a national themed event, this year obviously being Welsh, we can help to market the event more effectively and regenerate attendance.
“Fortunately, to help us with the Welsh theme this year, the Women’s Blues will play Cardiff Metropolitan University after the Major Stanley’s Match, also at Iffley Road, and the Oxfordshire Welsh Male Voice Choir will be in attendance too. Assuming that this year’s event proves a success, we will look at ‘theming’ next year’s and subsequent year’s events.”