The 134th Varsity match between Oxford and Cambridge took place on Thursday 10th December at Twickenham. The event began in 1872, which was the year after the very first international rugby match was played. Since 1921 the game has been played at Twickenham. Oxford University RFC who have dominated the event recently have 59 wins, and Cambridge University R.U.F.C. maintain the lead with 61; 14 games have ended in draws.
Cambridge University narrowly suffered a sixth straight defeat to Oxford in a desperately cagey and attritional Varsity match 12 -6 which could have gone either way right up to the final whistle. See the full match report below. Former Ikey under 20 player and Australian lock Dan Vickerman was the last man to captain the Light Blues to victory in 2009.
Former FNB Ikey Tigers lock and Varsity Cup winner James Kilroe featured for Cambridge, as did Welsh star centre Jamie Roberts, the side being captained by ex Matie Don Stevens. The uncompromising forward who studies an MPhil in Technology Policy at the Judge Business School, as a member of Robinson College and has played a few games for the light blues since his arrival, was in great form, scoring two tries in the match leading up to the Varsity Match.
Kilroe says "I have been at Cambridge, in the beginning of the Michaelmas term this year, which is the beginning of October, so I arrived straight after the Oxford / World University Rugby Cup tour."
"My best game for Cambridge so far would have to be against the Steele-Bodgers XV. It is an invitational team, which is selected by Micky Steele-Bodger (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micky_Steele-Bodger) It was a wonderful occasion and about 5000 people came to watch, it was a close game and we managed to win 36-33. The dinner afterwards was particularly fun!" explains the former Ikey.
There have been a number of former Ikeys who have represented both varsities in recent years which have helped Kilroe settle in the new environment. "Zandy MacDonald was the last Ikey player to go to Oxford and I did talk to him prior to applying. I think James Richards was the last Cambridge Ikey player and we played together in the World University Barbarians match in Sydney in 2013. One of the Cambridge guys I met there is playing with me in the Varsity Match now."
A number of Ikeys have also captained one of the sides over the years Quentin de Bruyn, Nick Mallet, Chad Lion-Cachet,Dan Vickerman, Andrew Everett, Neil MacDonald and Dugald MacDonald.
Varsity Match 2015: Cambridge pay the ultimate penalty against Oxford
Gripping, tense and captivating to the bitter end, the 134th Varsity Match may not have been the thrilling try fest that many would enjoy but this year's renewal should go down as an epic.
It was like a game of strategic warfare where the pieces are moved ever so carefully in to place to exploit the opponents' weaknesses.
And yet, there were very few weaknesses to be exploited as Cambridge and Oxford Universities went toe to toe at Twickenham.
If you had wanted to see tries, then the prelude to the 134th renewal was the one to watch, as the Light Blues crushed their opposition 52-0 in the first women's match to be held at HQ.
But if you were at home with attritional, gritty, bodies-on-the-line fayre, then the men's game had it in abundance.
It was certainly not pretty, there were times when you could go long spells without even seeing the ball, but it felt like a throwback to what rugby used to be where the forwards fronted up in a friendly but physical nature.
They desperately fought to win their respective sides some possession, but with few opportunities to run the ball, it always felt like it would come down to the roulette of penalties and when you dice with that danger, you always run the risk of paying the ultimate cost.
And so it was to be that George Cullen kicked Oxford to a 12-6 triumph and a record-breaking sixth successive Varsity Match win, condemning Cambridge to the history books.
This defeat felt very different from the losses in 2013 and 2014 though – while the others on this run have long been cast into the distant memory – and you could not help but feel a degree of sympathy for the Light Blues.
A bloodied and bandaged Daniel Dass in the second half perfectly summed up everything Cambridge had given to the game, they really could not have put in any more.
Ian Nagle was a colossus in the line-out and his defence was superb, and the same could be said of so many of his team-mates.
Dave Spelman, Don Stevens and Fraser Gillies had joined Nagle in making last-ditch tackles to deny Oxford on their few line-breaks, while the James Kilroe and Dass partnership in the back row could probably command its own television show if it was picked up by a network.
Dass was the same tackling demon he has been all term, and there waiting for any Oxford leftovers that got through was Kilroe.
The work-rate of the pack was immense, but that is not to undermine the importance of Oxford's own tight eight.
Andrew Grant and Fergus Taylor in the Dark Blues' second row were matching Nagle and Rob Hall in the loose, but Cambridge had the significant upper hand at the line-out, with their defence particularly standing out.
And the two Oxford flankers, Nic Roberts-Huntley and Will Wilson were also getting through so much work, and therefore it was something of a surprise when Oxford winger Tom Stileman was named man of the match.
That is because it was not a game where the backs had any space, let alone any space to run into, and so the longer the game wore on, you felt that kickable penalties were coming into play, and that brought forward the sharp-shooting boot of fly-half Cullen.
He had traded kicks with Stevens in the first half as the sides remained deadlocked at 3-3.
Cambridge had been dealt a blow at the break when Jamie Roberts had to go off with a dead leg, but then Stevens booted them in 6-3 front after 59 minutes.
While in future years many of the players will no doubt enjoy telling their grandchildren about the time they played at Twickenham, Oxford full-back Matt Geiger may want to omit what happened to him in the 64th minute.
Oxford had been building up the pressure and created an overlap on Cambridge, but when the ball went wide to Geiger he fumbled and juggled the ball before dropping and knocking on when all he needed to do was ground it for a try.
That kept the game finely balanced before Cullen levelled matters eight minutes later.
It was another six minutes before Oxford edged back ahead through a third Cullen penalty.
And any hopes Cambridge had of winning the game, or at the very least getting a draw, disappeared four minutes later.
Simon Davies engaged in an aimless exchange of high kicks with Oxford and on his third go, he went flying high to get the ball when there was no realistic chance of reaching it and took Henry de Berker out in the air.
With that yellow card for Davies went Cambridge's chances of preventing being on the wrong side of history, and to add salt into the wound, Cullen kicked a fourth penalty for Oxford as they won what was the lowest scoring Varsity Match for 14 years.