Wednesday afternoon saw the Greyhounds reclaim the 2nd Varsity Match Trophy in fine style after a two year hiatus, with an emphatic 50 points to 5 win over the Cambridge LX Club. On paper the Greyhounds looked to be a strong outfit with four Blues in the starting XV and so it proved as the forwards dominated the tight exchanges and the backs finished off in style. The front row of James Scaife, Will Thornton and Kieran Ball, showed why they have a Blue or in line for one next week, as they took care of their opposition at scrum time, second rows Johny Marsden – in particular – and George Vaughan showed athleticism to get around the park and hit ruck or mail with energy and intensity, whilst the back row of Ralph Weir, OURFC Captain George Messum and No 8 Jacob Goss carried the ball into the heart of the Cambridge defence making countless yards on each carry. Messum certainly put behind him the disappointment of not being able to lead the Blues on the day at Twickenham with yet another performance oozing class, whilst young Goss is surely one to keep an eye on for the future. With the forwards supplying plentiful possession the backs took full advantage, Tom Kershaw at scrum-half – another bright young prospect – was sharp around the fringes with a crisp service to Man of the Match and Captain Basil Strang at fly-half, whose all-round display showed way he earnt a Blue last year. Centres Ollie Shorthose and Jonny Philpott were rock solid in defence and slick of hand when needed to release the dangerous pair of Ali Adams-Cairns and Alex Corry on the wings, whilst Will Dace was a calming influence at full-back offering attacking options as well as clearing his line when necessary. The bench all played their part too, just rewards for the efforts they had put in since returning to Oxford six weeks ahead of term commencing to take part in the World University Rugby hosted by OURFC in September. All in all this was an outstanding performance from a well-coached side determined to put down a marker eight days ahead of the 134th Varsity Match.
Scorers: Tries Strang (2), Scaife, Corry, Ball, Adams-Cairns, Philpott, Miller Cons Strang (5)
In the absence of a 3rd XV Varsity Match, with Cambridge currently not fielding a men’s 3rd XV, the Whippets hosted Bristol University Freshers in a match to conclude their Michaelmas Term fixtures. A new Trophy, the Evans/Reeves Challenge Trophy, was inaugurated to celebrate this fixture and all future fixtures between Oxford and Bristol University teams. It is hoped this can be played for annually and to honour not only the service and commitment Lynn Evans and Bob Reeves have given to Oxford and Bristol University rugby respectively, but also to student rugby in general. Without a Varsity Match to aim for, the term had been a challenging one for this group of players but under the guiding influence of Evans and his right-hand man Dom Alonzi, now in his 11th season at OURFC, along with young aspiring coach Jonny Mitchell the players turned up all term to train and play and were duly rewarded with a narrow two point victory on Wednesday 29 points to 27. On the day both teams were committed to play with ball in hand and only handling errors prevented the score from being higher as the play fluctuated from one end of the pitch to the other in rapid time. At the final whistle the only thing separating the two teams was one additional conversion from Oxford, with each team scoring four tries.
Scorers: Tries Dyer, Haddock, Valentine, Stephenson Cons Dyer (2), Pens Dyer