Rugby Blues round-up: meet the players planning on beating O*ford

Women’s, men’s, League and Union Rugby- we’ve got you covered

I would say that it’s that time of year again, except it really isn’t for rugby. Postponed from late 2020 to March this year, and now June/July, the Varsity Rugby Matches are finally here.

The Rugby League game will be played today (June 18th) at the Cambridge ground on Grange Road. Meanwhile, the women’s and men’s Union games are on the 4th of July in Leicester …. keep reading to find out more and how to book your tickets!

The Rugby League Match

When: 18th June at (2’s at 5:30 pm, Blues at 7:00 pm)

Where: YouTube and Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club, Grange Road

Rugby League and Rugby Union, similar names and similar games. The biggest difference is that there are thirteen players per team in League rather than fifteen in Union. 

We spoke to the team captain Max Holcroft and Club president Elliot Stockdale (Stocky). Their top advice for fans to help “give the lads a boost” was to make sure you’re “letting O*ford know how bad they are.” Though the tickets are already sold out, those watching at Grange Road should shout “as loud as possible” in the stands. Those without a ticket can take “some good luck messages” to the comments of the YouTube stream.

The Cambridge Rugby League players (Image credits: Max Holcroft).

When asked if they had any tactics to beat O*ford, Elliot kept it vague (can’t let Oxford know what they’re getting up to), but he did reveal that if they “play to [their] capabilities,” they “will win the game.” 

Of course, I had to ask how they might celebrate, and I was given a simple answer: “win or lose, we’re on the booze,” (with non-alcoholic options for those in the team that don’t drink). Elliot added that, with a win, drinks would be “consumed via the varsity trophy in a strictly Covid-19 safe way with comprehensive risk assessments” (provided by their Welfare officer Ritz).

The Rugby Union Matches

When: Sunday 4th July (Women’s kick-off 1 pm, Men’s at 3:30 pm)

Where: Welford Road, Leicester (purchase tickets here) and watch it streamed live here

After beating Oxford in the 2019 matches (women 8-5, men 15-0), the Cambridge teams are looking to reclaim their trophies. For the first time since 1921, the match isn’t taking place at Twickenham stadium; instead, you can watch them play on the 4th of July in Leicester with tickets available to purchase here (there are “potentially supporter buses from Cambridge”) or catch it live on the Varsity Match website.

We chatted with Blue’s women’s captain Elisha Clark about their plans for the game. She revealed that their winning tactics include their “strength, skills and fitness” and added that the ability of “a few of the players *cough* Shuttleworths *cough*”  to “get under Oxford’s skin” always adds to the “contest” on the day.

The teams have been affected by Covid-19 restrictions, with both of them following adapted rules which ban scrums and mauls, emphasising fitness and more “ball-in-play time.” Elisha described that in a “crazy year for everyone”, CURUFC has offered a “huge support network” of “one big family.” She added the women’s team “are looking better than we’ve ever been.” Oxford better watch out because the women’s team are ready for their fourth consecutive victory!

The women’s team won the varsity match 5-8 last year (Image credits: Cambridge University Rugby on Instagram)

Meanwhile, on the men’s team, we spoke to Charlie Watson (centre), Tom Walton (flanker) and Jake Hennessey (probably “somewhere in the backs”). Again, they kept quiet about their tactics to beat O*ford, but Jake told us that they should watch out for “our 3 E’s” (I can’t say I understand what that means, but fingers crossed it’ll lead to a win).

Asking the important questions, we moved onto their diets leading up to the big games. “Seb’s burritos” are a pivotal component for the women’s team; meanwhile, the men’s team gave us a breakdown of their daily intakes. Jake averages 4,000 calories a day, and Tom eats 600g of carbohydrates the day before the game (325g is the recommended daily amount). An average breakfast for Jake consists of “two turkey sausages, two bacon rashers, a bagel and five eggs.” (Trip to the Gyp with the Rugby blues, anyone?).

The men’s team won the varsity match 15-0 last year (Image credits: Matthew Impey at Wired Photos)

The Union blues have their own special preparations ahead of the match, such as a “shirt giving ceremony” and dinner the evening before. Whilst Elisha described that she didn’t want to “reveal too much upfront” about how they might celebrate if they do win, she described that it is an “honour” “to get the chance to play our Varsity Match at a proper stadium” and that the women’s team are “making history!”

Before I end this article, I was given a few strange inside jokes from the teams, and I thought I might as well include a few for baffled Cambridge students to enjoy. Apparently,  Todd Tunley’s “Just can’t get enough” “brings a tear” to the eyes of the Rugby League team, and for the men’s union team, apparently “you can’t park it their sir” (make of them what you will).

In-jokes aside, I hope the very best to the blues rugby teams. In a year that’s been challenging in many ways, let’s cheer on the teams that are going above and beyond to beat O*ford (and make “history”!)

Feature image credits: Max Holcroft and Instagram

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