A highly successful day at Iffley Road on Wednesday, saw both the men’s and women’s Blues gain morale boosting victories in the run -up to Varsity, the men continuing their winning streak against the Major Stanley’s XV and the women’s completing the ‘Double’ over the University of Gloucestershire in their important BUCS Premier League fixture. For a report of the men’s match, courtesy of Rob Cole please see below, the women’s match report is below that.
Basil Strang made the most of his half-day off from teaching at Kingham Hill School to cement his place in the Oxford University side for the 135th Varsity Match with a matchwinning performance in a 39-5 win over the Major Stanley’s XV.
The 23-year-old outside half gave the Dark Blues a flying start with a try in the opening minutes and went on to score 20 points, After converting his own score he improved a try by skipper Fergus Taylor and also kicked two penalties.
Studying for an MSC in Learning and Teaching at Stephen’s House College, Strang looks set to be a major weapon for Oxford as they attempt to extend their record winning streak over Cambridge from six to seven games on Thursday, 8 December. At 6ft 5in tall, and weighing in at 17st 6lbs, it is no wonder he has capture the attention of the Worcester Warriors scouts.
Having been unavailable for last year’s Varsity Match – he played in the Greyhounds big win over the LX Club – the ex-RGS Newcastle and Durham University student has made himself indispensible this season. His goalkicking has been ultra-reliable and in this game he was able to showcase his distribution skills when the game opened up in the second half.
Taylor’s team have spent much of the build-up to next month’s clash with Cambridge at Twickenham showing off their defensive skills against Aviva Premiership clubs, but they showed there is much more to their game against a much stronger and better-organised Stanley’s XV than in 2015.
Having done the hard-graft in the first-half, the Dark Blues were able to able to reap the rewards after the break. It took a further 13 minutes of softening up, with the fit-again Nic Huntley-Roberts happily restored to the home pack to provide his own brand of vim and vigour in place of the skipper in the second half, before the third try flowed.
The ever alert scrum half Henry de Berker, another key player returning to full fitness, ensured the ball was whisked away quickly from the breakdown and right wing Ed David was held up just short in the corner. The ball was recycled and de Berker picked out second row Andrew Grant as his best-placed runner and he was able to dive over unopposed.
The conversion was once again a formality for Strang and the outside half then skipped through the Stanley’s defence for a second time to notch another try. His conversion made it five out of six on the goalkicking front and took his match tally up to 20 points.
Stanley’s finally got on the scoreboard with 10 minutes left to play when replacement scrum half Tom Kershaw scampered over. But the home side had the final say when No 8 Will Wilson finally rounded off a period of hammering away at the Stanley’s line with a muscular try which Tom Dyer improved.
Team Kieran Ball, Edward Hart, Joseph Morris, Fergus Taylor, Andrew Grant, Jonathan Marsden, George Blomfield, William Wilson, Henry de Berker, Basil Strang, Ed David, Alex Hogg, Henry Hughes, Tom Stileman, Daniel Barley
Subs William Thornton (on for Edward Hart), James Scaife (on for Kieran Ball), Hugo Lu (on for Joseph Morris), Nicholas Roberts-Huntley (on for Andrew Grant), James Beaufils (on for Jonathan Marsden), Jacob Goss (on for George Blomfield), Dylan McGagh (on for Henry de Berker), Tom Dyer (on for Basil Strang), Jack Holmes (on for Daniel Barley)
ScoresT: Basil Strang (2), Fergus Taylor (1), Andrew Grant (1), William Wilson (1) C: Basil Strang (3), Tom Dyer (1) P: Basil Strang (2)
On the evening of Wednesday 16th November, OURFC Women’s Blues took to Iffley Road stadium in a must-win match against former BUCS Champions the University of Gloucester. This was a hard fought match, with spectators on the edge of their seats from start to finish. Oxford took an early lead with a drop goal from Captain Catherine Wilcock. With spirits high, Oxford pinned Gloucester in their 22 once again, resulting in a score from thundering centre Heli Copley. Wilcock converted. Gloucester didn’t give up and put pressure on Oxford, eventually scoring in the corner. Oxford attacked back, but Gloucester managed to break through again to score their second, putting them ahead at the half time whistle. Undeterred, Oxford rose to the occasion, with exceptional work from van Heerden and McCay in the back row. Excellent scrummaging from the Oxford pack gave a solid platform for fullback Sophie Trott to beat 3 defenders and dive over the line to go 15-12 ahead. With sheer Dark Blue grit and the support of the crowd, Oxford fought tirelessly to maintain their lead. The match concluded with a final attack from Gloucester, who were forced into touch before they could capitalise.
Final score Oxford University 15: University of Gloucester 12