Cambridge Suffer Heavy Loss in Rugby League Varsity

JOHN LEDGER witnesses the downfall of Cambridge Rugby League at the Twickenham Stoop.

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Oxford 60 – 16 Cambridge

Rumour has it that the Cambridge team bus showed the Liam Neeson thriller “Taken” on the way to the Twickenham Stoop to face the Dark Blues. Perhaps “Downfall” would have been more appropriate.  The last days of Hitler might have prepared the Light Blues for the feelings of desperation and defeat they no doubt felt at the final whistle, having been put to the sword by a rapid and physical Oxford side. (For the record, I am by no means comparing Cambridge Rugby League Club to the Third Reich. Except for the fact that they lost.)

The issues started early on. Almost directly from the first kick off, Cambridge suffered from the sheer physicality of the Dark Blues team; their first man to run with the ball was smothered and driven backwards towards his own tryline. Before long, the ball was in Oxford hands and their captain Marcus-Alexander Neil was crossing under the posts for the game’s first score.

This pattern was to be repeated for the entire of the first period, and despite Cambridge completing some sets and gaining some time in the Oxford half, they soon found themselves two tries down, as a break through the midfield led to another try for the Other Place.

From that point on, Cambridge were fighting a losing battle, as an Oxford team with their tails up pounded the Light Blue defensive line, breaking through time and again to post a half time score of 36-0.

A dejected Light Blue side after the loss

The break came as something of a respite for the Cambridge support. The Harlequins cheerleaders, who had the aura of a development squad, showed their acrobatic prowess with a routine of unmatchable competence. Dazzling in their multi coloured uniforms, the girls allowed worried Cantab minds to wander away from the painful first half performance. Sadly, the show was destined to go on. And go on it did.

An improvement, of sorts was seen in the second half, with Cambridge scoring 16 points. James Bousher, who thus far in the game had seen most action with his right boot, taking kick off after kick off as Oxford ticked over the scoreboard, touched down with Cambridge’s last try, a fitting reward for some tiring leg work.

Sadly, 16 points was not enough, and the Dark Blues continued to run in tries, ending up with a comfortable 44 point win, with Man of the Match Ben Calverly putting in good solid work all evening.

The picture which will spur Cambridge on in the next 12 months.

For most of the supporters, however, the game was merely a sideshow to some of the most inspired chanting this side of the Egyptian Revolution. Personal favourites included the classic, “You’re shit, and you’re on Sky Sports”, and the surely destined to be platinum selling, “You wouldn’t make our third team…and we don’t have a third team”. (Even political subjects got an airing, with the refrain of “I’d rather be Gaddafi than a Tab” echoing confidently around the ground.)

In all, it was a chastising experience for the Cambridge team. With only three of last year’s side returning (compared to eight of the Dark Blues) if was always going to be tough, but this was even more painful than they would have imagined. Rugby League seems destined to always play second fiddle to Union in the grand scheme of Cambridge sport, and results like this one aren’t going to change that accepted order. However, experience will have been gained, and the team will no doubt have already begun to look forward to next year’s game.