Meet the dark blues who will line up against Cambridge tomorrow
You can normally find George Messum in the Half Moon
Tomorrow Oxford will be looking to record their sixth straight win against Cambridge in the Varsity Match. We spoke to the boys who will be pulling on the dark blue jersey.
Height: 6′ 2 (1.88m)
Weight: 16st 2 (102.5kg)
College: St Anne’s
Course: Historical Studies
Could you explain your ineligibility to play in the Varsity match?
There have been, within the last year, changes to the Blues Sport criteria governed by the joint Blues committee. This has affected students on courses that require optional matriculation to a college. Unfortunately time constraints in applying to available and eligible courses in my chosen field have meant that I am unable to play in the Varsity Match.
How has your role in match preparation changed as a result?
My off field role has taken more of a focus and the senior players have demonstrated leadership in their given field (scrum, lineout, attack, defence, etc). Henry [the game captain] is a player who leads by example and we are focused on building a squad of leaders who drive the collective entity forward.
How capable is Henry Lamont of filling your shoes?
It’s not really a case of filling any shoes. Henry has grasped the leadership responsibilities on field with both hands in his own way. He personifies the development that this environment can facilitate. He has the trust of every man in the squad, and I could not have asked anymore from him.
It will be a close game, great for the neutral maybe watching for the first time. Outcomes are dictated by performance, controlling the game therefore is key. If we get that right, the outcome will take care of itself.
Describe Cambridge in three words
Confident, hungry, physical.
What’s your favourite night out in Oxford?
A few pints with the squad in the Half Moon, on Cowley Road.
Height: 5′ 8 (1.73m)
Weight: 13st 1 (83kg)
College: New College
How have you found the additional responsibility?
It is an absolute honour to be able to the lead the boys out and their confidence in me is something I will always treasure.
How has your role changed?
Not a great deal if I’m honest, the team is full of leaders from one to fifteen and they have all got fully behind me.
Will the team miss George Messum?
George is a fantastic player and a great man to have around. It’s a shame we won’t have his ability on the day but we have moved on and Will Wilson is a truly exceptional open-side so we are very fortunate there.
Are you confident you will be able to handle Jamie Roberts in the centres?
He’s a great player but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
How have you prepared to play against him?
There is no magic formula, he obviously has his strengths but so do all of their team. We are focusing on ourselves and how we want to play.
It’s going to be a tough day and I don’t think you could predict the score. We know if we execute our processes and play with the accuracy and intensity we are looking for, the result will take care of itself.
Position: Loosehead prop
Height: 6′ 0 (1.83m)
Weight: 15st 10 (99.8kg)
University Course: DPhil Sociology (my research is on social inequality in mental health), I’m in the second year of my DPhil, but it’s my eighth year at Oxford – I also did a BA in Classics, then an MSc in Sociology, and another MSc in Criminology & Criminal Justice.
What’s been your favourite varsity match?
It’s hard to say, they’ve all been special. Maybe 2012 because we came back from what looked like a sure defeat. We were 19-6 down in the second half and our coach decided to take off our 9, a pro who had been on the bench in the Heineken Cup final the previous year. Somehow (well, largely through Samson Egerton – now in the England 7s squad – and Charlie Marr) we clawed it back. 2014 was also special because we scored so many tries, and there was one at the end in particular which was beautifully crafted.
But I think 2013 has to be my favourite, not only because we routed them in the scrum, but also because of how we came together as a team after losing a man to a red card. There was a fantastic feeling of collective concentration and effort, perfectly reflecting how closely the team had come together off the pitch.
How is this one different?
To state the obvious, having a player of Jamie Roberts’ stature involved will really add to the occasion. We’ll have to watch out for his creativity and flair. Personally, knowing it’s the last time I’ll be able to play in the Varsity Match will make it an emotional occasion too.
I’m really glad the women’s match will be at Twickenham too. It should help raise the profile of the women’s game, so that more people end up getting involved and seeing how enjoyable and fulfilling being part of a team can be.
How have you celebrated the last five wins? Which was the best one?
The team normally has a weekend away to celebrate. The only one I’ve been on was last year, when we travelled to Istanbul, which I highly recommend.
Which May ball are you going to attend?
Oxford win – but not comfortably.
Height: 5′ 10 (1.78m)
Weight: 13st 10 (87.1kg)
College: Kellogg College
University Course: MSc Sustainable Urban Development
Your dad has played three Varsity Matches for Cambridge, will he be supporting you or Cambridge?
He’s said from the outset that while I’m playing he’ll support the Oxford boys and once I’ve finished playing we’ll go back to having a friendly family rivalry.
Which players on the Cambridge side will you be targeting?
We know they have a few talismans who they will look to carry them during the game. However we are aware they have lots of threats around the park so we have to not get too distracted by a couple of individuals.
Who is the most promising player in the Oxford squad and why?
The two freshmen, Will Wilson at open side and Tom Stileman on the wing, in the side are really exciting teenagers who have a great future in the game. They’re both in great physical shape for their age and both excellent footballers who are always a threat going forward and in defence.
Varsity rugby is always unpredictable so I wouldn’t want to predict a score. I am certain however that if we execute our processes accurately then we’ll put ourselves in a great position to win the game.