The Dark Blues made the 133rd Varsity Match one to remember as they thrashed Cambridge University 43-6 at Twickenham to achieve an Oxford record of five consecutive Varsity victories. In an historic afternoon in front of more than 25,000 supporters at Twickenham, Oxford also broke the record for the highest winning margin which stretched back to 1910 as they became the first to score more than 40 points in the historic battle between the two universities.
Oxford captain, Jacob Taylor, remained calm despite the famous win when he spoke after the game, “The records are great external markers that this team can take away with them,” said Taylor, “It’s nice but the real enjoyment has been the last three months that we have spent together.”
Sam Egerton, who himself made history last year when he became the first player to ever be sent off in a Varsity Match, made amends with a brilliant performance and rightly saw him being named as Man of the Match. Oxford managed to rack up six tries and, vitally, denied any Cambridge reply. Tries came from Sam Egerton, Alexander Macdonald, Tom Reeson Price, Ian Williams, George Messum and Gus Jones.
The match, which commemorated the 55 Blues that fell during the Great War which commenced 100 years ago, burst into life in the 11th minute thanks to Egerton. The Keble College student became the hero, scoring a wonderfully crafted try out of nothing. Egerton pounced on a loose ball and sprinted over half the length of the pitch to score for a third consecutive year at Twickenham.
In a tight first half, a series of penalties increased the drama. Oxford’s George Cullen successfully converted his effort whilst Cambridge’s Don Stevens scored two kicks to reduce the Oxford advantage to just four points.
But Zandy Macdonald eased Oxford’s worries a minute before the break, scoring his fourth try of the season and took the Dark Blues into half time with an 11 point lead. The South African capped off a spell of pressure when he found a gap in the Cambridge line from close-range.
The second half was marred by two serious looking injuries for Cambridge. Both Don Stevens, scorer of all of Cambridge’s points, and George Smith had to be stretchered off, hurting the dreams of the Light Blues.
The injuries hit Cambridge hard and began a second half demolition from Oxford. The Dark Blues scored four tries in 23 minutes and punished a tiring Cambridge back-line who looked more dejected by the minute.
In the 55th minute lock Tom Reeson Price continued his impressive Varsity campaign going over following a delightful blindside move from the Dark Blues.
By the hour mark the Oxford party was in full swing when prop Ian Williams broke free of the Cambridge defence and bundled over the line to extend the advantage to 21 points.
With just six minutes remaining Oxford added insult to injury when Egerton set-up fly-half George Cullen in a fast break.
Oxford’s England U20 Gus Jones completed the annihilation in the 78th minute with his third try of the season, set up by an outstanding offload from Alexander MacDonald, which gave rise to celebrations on the Dark Blues bench.
The victory was also an important one for Oxford prop Lewis Anderson who became the most decorated Rugby Union Blue of all time, winning five Varsity’s in a row. As ever, the 24 year old was humble about his achievements. “It’s not really what’s on my mind at the moment,” claimed Anderson, “We have worked so hard together and become so close and it’s sad to be ending a brilliant season we have had together.”
David Lewis, OURFC Press Officer
Team Lewis Anderson, Nick Gardner, Ian Williams, Fergus Taylor, Tom Reeson Price, Fraser Heathcote, Gus Jones, George Messum, Samson Egerton, George Cullen, Henry Lamont, Alexander Macdonald, Matt Janney, Edward Doe, Jacob Taylor
Subs James Wisson (on for Nick Gardner), James Scaife (on for Lewis Anderson), Guy Western (on for Ian Williams), Graeme MacGilchrist (on for Fergus Taylor), Henry de Berker (on for George Cullen), Henry Hughes (on for Edward Doe), Basil Strang (on for Matt Janney), Ralph Weir (on for Gus Jones)
ScoresT: Gus Jones (1), Tom Reeson Price (1), Ian Williams (1), George Cullen (1), Alexander Macdonald (1), Samson Egerton (1) P: George Cullen (1)
Earlier in the day, the Oxford Under 21’s also enjoyed Varsity victory with an emphatic 36 points to 12 win over their Cambridge counterparts.
Oxford U21s put the misery of losing their 2013 Varsity Match behind them to regain the title in an enthralling 36-12 victory at Twickenham. A man-of-the-match performance from Oxford winger Sam Williams included a hat-trick of tries which helped the Dark Blues lift the Varsity Plate once more. Chris Mansfield, Ed David and Kit Goodfellow all added tries for the Dark Blues and extended the victory margin to 24 points. The opening try of the day came just six minutes in when Oxford winger Sam Williams found some space on the far left to finish off a well-worked move from the Dark Blues. On such a big occasion it was clear that both sides were struggling with nerves, making a number of unforced errors. In the 18th minute Cambridge’s Dan Schofield picked off a loose pass from Oxford to sprint home under the posts and Angus Strachan’s simple conversion gave the Light Blues an early lead. But within ten minutes the Dark Blues had fought back, capitalising on another misplaced pass which allowed Jesus College student, Chris Mansfield, to grab a well-earned try for Oxford. In an end-to-end first half Cambridge almost made an immediate response, but a solid back-line within five metres from the try-line denied Cambridge restoring their lead before the break.
Oxford got the second half going in storming fashion, scoring their third try of the game within two minutes of the restart. Kit Goodfellow escaped the Light Blues back-line to score before successfully converting to extend the Dark Blues advantage to 12 points. In the 56th minute Ed David had the Oxford fans out of their seats in full voice with a wonderful 40 metre run before calmly playing in Sam Williams for his second try of the game. With ten minutes to go the Oxford party was in full swing with two quick fire tries. First Sam Williams completed his hat trick following a powerful scrum. Just three minutes later Ed David sprinted through the tiring Cambridge back-line to give the Dark Blues a resounding 36-7 lead. There was just time for a last minute try for Cambridge as Rory Luscombe finished off a prolonged spell of Light Blues pressure. But this was not to dampen the well-earned Oxford celebrations.
David Lewis, OURFC Press Officer