The 85th Varsity Match
St. Paul’s School, Saturday February 21st, 2015
They say that records are made to be beaten, and a powerful Cambridge side duly set themselves the target of exceeding the margin of Oxford’s 300-38 victory in the 2010 Varsity Match. This they managed to do, allowing Oxford just 23 points, not only by virtue of a superb performance by their top four players, conceding a mere eight points in the whole match, but also by solid back-up from their third and fourth pairs.
After the singles, Cambridge’s four stars, Kay, Beltrami, Shaw and Brubert, all of them ranked in the top 20 nationally, had established a lead of 56 points, and this pattern continued relentlessly in the doubles. Great credit goes to all the Oxford players for never giving up in the face of this battering; the scores do not reflect the effort they put in. They were well led by Whitney and had prepared seriously for the match, but the sheer quality of the opposition’s play was too much for them.
The members of Cambridge’s third and fourth pairs (Ader & Malde and Bury & Pinder) had experience from last year, and it showed. They were particularly severe on Oxford 4, while allowing Oxford 3 (Hale & Sale) to win 11 points off them – rich pickings in the context of this match! Incidentally, Sale and Mills, both selected for Oxford, are the first Old Boys of their respective schools, Eton and Highgate, to play in the Rugby Fives Varsity Match since its inception in 1925.
The reserves match was closer but Cambridge’s first pair, Law and Lau, had too much experience for their opponents to cope with, and that made the difference as they won all their games comfortably. The newcomers on both sides, hailing from a wide variety of schools and with very little competitive fives under their belt, improved visibly as the match went on. A seasoned observer of Beavers v Sparrows matches made Lau ‘Man of the Match’ – a tribute to the effort he has put into his fives.
In a day of firsts, another noteworthy innovation was the inaugural Ladies’ Rugby Fives Varsity Match. Here, the Oxford pair were much too experienced for the Cambridge newcomers to the game and provided something for Oxford to cheer; but in this case the event itself was of greater importance than the result. If two pairs appear for each side next year, a well-known lady fives player of the past has promised to present a trophy!
Lastly, our thanks go again to St. Paul’s School for hosting these matches. The courts are now in very good condition again, and the gallery was full of supporters to witness a day of excellent sport and sportsmanship.
See at the end of this post for some statistics regarding the fixture
Oxford v Cambridge
Singles (Oxford names first): AM Horsewood (Winchester & Harris Manchester) lost to EI Kay (St. Paul’s & Emmanuel) 2-15; TM Hoskins (Oundle & LMH) (Hon. Sec.) lost to BMJ Beltrami (St. Paul’s & Selwyn) 2-15; NA Whitney (Tonbridge & Magdalen) (Captain) lost to MJR Shaw (St. Paul’s & Homerton) 0-15; MW Hale (Winchester & St. Hilda’s) lost to JB Brubert (Alleyn’s & Queens’) (Captain) 0-15.
Doubles: Horsewood & Hoskins lost to Brubert & Kay 1-15, 1-15; lost to Beltrami & Shaw 0-15, 0-15. AN Mills (Highgate & St. Edmund Hall) & Whitney lost to Beltrami & Shaw 1-15, 0-15; lost to Brubert & Kay 1-15, 0-15. Hale & OED Sale (Eton & Wadham) lost to JS Ader (St. Paul’s & Pembroke) (Hon. Sec.) & JK Malde (St. Paul’s & Clare) 4-15, 0-15; lost to TM Bury (Kelly & Queens’) & JW Pinder (Winchester & Robinson) 2-15, 5-15. OA Even (St. Paul’s & New) & JSW Godding (Marlborough & St. Peter’s) lost to Bury & Pinder 1-15, 2-15; lost to Ader & Malde 0-15, 1-15.
Result: Cambridge bt Oxford 300-23.
Oxford Beavers v Cambridge Sparrows
Singles (Oxford names first): WJ Yates (St. Paul’s & Regent’s Park) lost to RB Law (St. Paul’s & Pembroke) 3-15; AO Petrenco (Westminster & LMH) lost to WCK Lau (Tonbridge & Trinity) 1-15; H Petin (Christ’s Hospital & Corpus Christi) lost to JR Tennison (Trinity House & Trinity) 11-15; PJ Corden (Adams’ GS & Oriel) bt CR Jenkins (Gower College & Churchill) 15-7.
Doubles: Petrenco & Yates lost to Law & Lau 3-15, 1-15; bt Jenkins & Tennison 15-3, 15-6. Corden & Petin lost to Jenkins & Tennison 11-15, 8-15; lost to Law & Lau 1-15, 2-15.
Result: Cambridge bt Oxford 151-86.
Oxford Ladies v Cambridge Ladies
Singles (Oxford names first): LKA Hotson (Oundle, Durham Univ. & Corpus Christi) bt SE Noll (Pomona College & Pembroke) 15-0. CL Jamison (Parkstone GS & BNC) bt QA Pusey (James Allen’s Girls’ School & Pembroke) 15-1.
Doubles: Hotson & Jamison bt Noll & Pusey 15-0, 15-1.
Result: Oxford bt Cambridge 60-2.
Some statistics regarding the Varsity Match: