December 09.2016

varsity 2016

The 30th Women’s Varsity Match and 135th Men’s Varsity Match at Twickenham have proved a huge success, with large numbers of supporters watching the action either online, live on the BBC, or at the stadium. 

In a closely-fought Women’s Match, Catherine Wilcock’s Dark Blues upset the odds to win a pulsating contest 3-0, only twelve months after conceding eight tries in a record 52-0 defeat.

Last year it was the Cambridge full back Alice Middleton who stole the show with her hat-trick of tries and 27 points. This time even she was upstaged by her opposite number Sophie Trott, the defensive rock on which Light Blues hopes were dashed time and time again.

Just as Middleton had been everyone’s choice as the winner of the inaugural Bunting-Peggers medal as the player of the mach in 2015, so Trott walked away with the title this time for her massive contribution to the 236 tackles put in by the winners.

Trott halted Middleton, Sophie Farrant and Lara Gibson in their tracks with try-saving tackles as the Dark Blues won for the first time since 2014 in the 30th staging of the Women’s Varsity Match, defending the slender lead Wilcock’s first-half penalty gave them. The win also earned Oxford points in the BUCS Premier South division, guaranteeing them a place in the top league next season.

Later that afternoon, it was Cambridge’s turn to use the odds, as the men’s team ended a six-year hoodoo to claim their first Varsity Match victory since 2009 with a 23-18 triumph.

A first-half interception try from Mike Phillips gave the Light Blues a vital lead against the run of play before a second half corner effort from his centre partner Rory Triniman secured the win that ensured prop Will Briggs didn’t end up a loser for a sixth time in a row.

The Dark Blues threatened to win the Varsity Match for a seventh successive season when Matt Greiger burst onto Henry Hughes’ pass wide out wide late on, but the full back was eventually bundled into touch by an Amesbury and Gillies combination just a metres short.

Oxford also managed to level the scores with time running out — and they required only a draw to retain their title — but Cambridge then went in for the kill and a brilliant cross-field kick by Gillies allowed Lare Egorbogbo to release Triniman and allow him to roll out of a tackle and in for a try in the left corner. Gillies added a touchline conversion.

And in between the two matches, England Head Coach Eddie Jones delivered a training session outside the ground to students from four lucky schools.

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