Blues Suffer Aussie Rules Loss

Ali McWhirter gives his report on playing in the varsity match

Oxford defeated Cambridge 6.15. 51 to 1.1. 7

Upon mentioning to people that I was to play in the annual Aussie Rules varsity match, I was often confronted with the phrase ‘don’t you mean – aussie no rules!’ (insert aspirated ‘gurh’).

In the thundering winds at Exeter College sports grounds on Saturday, I often agreed. The wind, sweeping from one ‘corner’ of the pitch to the other, created a pocket of possession in 1/6 of the pitch, testing whichever team was defending in that half each quarter.

Oxford made the most of the advantage in the first, getting 5 goals (6 points) and a number of behinds (1) from constant pressure on the Cambridge defence. They then maintained their composure in the 2nd quarter, forcing Cambridge to keep it down the middle, and making effective use of the frequent loose ball, getting another goal.

It seemed that their well drilled and native Australian team was to have the better of us. But Cambridge came back in the second half with some superb defensive play. Gus Kennedy’s clearance kicks were never surpassed by anyone on either side, forcing Oxford to repeatedly have to bring it back from their half.

Great tackling by Sandy Shanklin and Eoin Macgabhan forced Oxford to take riskier long range kicks, often pushing wide of the behind posts.  Oxford’s organised attack was weakened by a number of injuries and the Cambridge commitment throughout the game.

In the final quarter Cambridge came back with a goal after Oxford’s ill discipline led to Gus Kennedy having a mark in front of the posts, which was slotted away with precision.

Constant pressure though from great clearances from the Cambridge half did not come to anything though, and Oxford finished the game with a scoreline which only reflected the first quarter.

Ball was scrappy throughout much of the game, with many failed marks and misdirected kicks on account of the ferocious conditions, but our heads never fell.

A great day was had by all, with Oxford being the perfect hosts after the match as well. As a Brit rugby player though, the irony of it all was hit home when the changing rooms beers after the game were a suspicious blue and gold.