University of Manchester retain Varsity crown

Another Varsity turns purple

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Varsity crowd

A packed UoM stand

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Man Met don’t take the annual Rugby Varsity too seriously. Surely a team who boast in the match-day programme of fielding J. Christ at fly half with the safe hands of P. Doe on the bench are reassuringly unlikely to overcome a Manchester University XV who have brushed them aside for thirteen consecutive years.

After kick-off, however, something became painfully apparent: Man Met were good. Attack after attack hit an immovable wall of former polytechnic beefcake until one had to contemplate the awful thought: ‘crumbs! This one might not go the same way as the university rankings’.

varsity scrum

Filthy scrum shot

The packed purple end of the stadium winced as their compatriots fumbled, with knock-ons galore and sloppy penalty concessions making spectator inebriation less of a choice and more of a necessity. Man Met rallied, and were rewarded, kicking six points without reply.

Thank heavens, then, for the first streaker of the night (there were five to follow). The crowd were re-energised. They bayed for baps. They got baps. Manchester University got a lift.

Suddenly, Man Met looked mortal. The frustration of the opening exchanges was quickly forgotten as twice UoM broke through. Danny Kennedy at number 8 was supreme, crashing over for the second of two unconverted tries. Half time came – 10-6. The UoM end took a deep breath and sat down to enjoy the half time entertainment: two streakers, todgers out, cartwheels-a-plenty.

Varsity streaker

We can see you streaking out

The second half started much like the first: terrifyingly. Man Met pressured and were rewarded swiftly with a try. 10-11. Natural order threatened. A timid touchline hugging streaker in Bridget Jones pants was booed. Now was not the time.

Once again, UoM were valiant in their response and thankfully imposed one way traffic until the final whistle sounded: Four tries scored, three converted, Man Met conquered until next year at least.

Varsity crowd light

Fans storm the pitch at full time

‘You can shove your red bricks up your arse!’ heckled the Man Met faithful as both universities joined the obligatory post match pitch invasion. That may be, but the trophy is staying where it belongs.