On Sunday 3rd June the 2nd Old Girls Varsity Match took place at Streatham & Croydon RFC withe the Oxford squad running out by 45 points to 30.
As the players arrived on a scorching hot June morning, hugs were exchanged and sunscreen applied. There was an air of inter-Oxbridge peace: a sense that, as Old Girls, we had all moved on from the intense rivalry of our Varsity days, made nice, and even made friends(!). But do not be mistaken, this was all about to change. Boots on, gum shields in, huddle up. Rivalry was back on.
Straight from the kick-off, Cambridge took charge, through a series of direct phases which saw Oxford rather surprised that it wasn’t touch, Cambridge put the first points on the board. A Light Blue score was enough to ignite some aggression within the Dark Blues, and they wasted no time striking back through a quick tap penalty. What followed was a series of scrappy attempts at wide play from both sides, a series of knock-ons, several penalties from Oxford who couldn’t figure out how to enter through the gate, and endless water breaks as no one could deal with the 27 degree heat. With the score tied at 2 tries a piece, the deadlock was broken by another direct running try from Cambridge which saw them leading at the break.
Half time consisted of more water, a sit down, negotiations of how much longer we should play for, a positions reshuffle and some words of wisdom from the side-lines. This was punctuated by an attempt at singing by Cambridge, something about dreaming spires and unclean places. Rejuvenated, the teams returned to the field. Oxford, inspired by their water break and a renewed game plan, finally managed to get the ball wide, getting outside the Cambridge defence and scoring in the corner. Pleased with the success rate of their efforts, they repeated the tactic several times and soon found themselves firmly in the lead. Cambridge, never ones to go down without a fight, ran some brilliant lines, winning several collisions and gaining ground through penalties thanks to Oxford’s rather inaccurate (and unintentional) attempt to apply a ‘no ruck no offside’ tactic. Despite several close range tries from Cambridge, they were unable to deal with Oxford’s pace and wide play, with a final score of 45 -30.
Two rounds of three cheers, a tunnel off, an Oxbridge photo, and a fun game of ‘How many tabs does it take to spell GBDO with their bodies’ saw the end of the competitive part of the day. For the remainder of the afternoon, rivalry and alliances were forgotten, beers and burgers revived players and supporters alike, and an excellent demonstration of Oxbridge integration led to plans being made for next year’s fixture. All in all, a successful day of rugby and friendship, punctuated by an ever important Dark Blue win.