Fallen Blues to be commemorated at Rugby Varsity match

The Tab brings you the low down on the Varsity Rugby, this year focusing on WWI

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When Oxford and Cambridge line-up for the 133rd Varsity Match at Twickenham Stadium in December the players the 55 Blues who paid the ultimate sacrifice in WWI will be commemorated with a minute’s silence, a century on from the start of the war.

As well as the 55 Blues who died, many other players who had featured in Dark and Light Blue lost their lives in the ‘war to end all wars’. Seven players from the 1913 Varsity Match at Queen’s Club failed to return from WW1 and all 30 served ‘King and Country’.

Two of the Oxford team of 1913 were killed in action and six returned with Military Crosses. Cambridge lost five of their 1913 line-up and the rest returned with three Military Crosses and a Distinguished Flying Cross.

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The Cambridge team from 1893, featuring Alexander Todd (back left) who is one of 28 Cambridge Blues to have lost their lives in WWI

“The idea of paying tribute to the Blues who served in WW1 at this year’s Varsity Match is a great one. It is difficult to imagine how things were a hundred years ago, but it is easy to respect the decision made by so many young men to step forward to serve their country,” said Oxford captain Jacob Taylor.

“Even though none of us have any connections to the 55 Blues who gave their lives so willingly, we will have something very special in common with them at Twickenham on Varsity Match day. It will be a privilege to pay our respects to them.”

Taylor follows in the footsteps of former Sale Sharks professional John Carter, who led the team to three successive victories, as captain of Oxford University and becomes the sixth Australian skipper in 12 seasons at Oxford.

“Going for the record five wins in a row is a big incentive, but that doesn’t really motivate me as much as the task of bringing a new Oxford squad together this season,” said Taylor.

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The Oxford and Cambridge captains meeting King George V at the 1919 Varsity match, the first match after the war

Hoping to mastermind a Light Blue revival will be former England Counties scrum half Harry Peck, who won his first Blue last season. He follows in the footsteps of his father, Ian, in captaining Cambridge and will be hoping for better fortunes.

24-year-old Peck led a Cambridge squad of past and present students on a summer tour to the United States and takes over the captaincy from fellow Bedford School product, prop Will Briggs.

“Blending tradition and moving forward is one of the real challenges faced by Varsity squads. It is extremely important that the players are aware of the history and how it informs the Varsity,” said Peck.

“However, we cannot carry the baggage of previous defeats. The shared goal of a long awaited victory is something we will use to unify and motivate our players.”

The 133rd Varsity Match will take place on Thursday, 11 December at Twickenham Stadium. Cambridge lead in the series 61-56, with 15 matches ending in draws.