Cambridge University get ready to kick off Lent Term against the Army
Five fixtures await Light Blues this term
From the highs of the Michaelmas Term, Cambridge University will be bidding to do it all again when they kick off their Lent Term campaign against the Army tonight (Wednesday).
It was this spell of fixtures 12 months ago that arguably set the Light Blues on the path to ending a long losing run in the Varsity Match, which was completed with a 23-18 win over Oxford in December.
And head coach James Shanahan will be hoping for more of the same from this year's second-term squad as they face the Army tonight (7.30pm), followed by the Spoon Anti-Assassins on January 25, the Penguins on February 1, RAF on February 8 and the Royal Navy 15.
The Lent Term offers many challenges for the coaching staff as studies take hold, injuries kick in and the future comes into focus.
So Shanahan is splitting the contenders into groups as he eyes next December's Varsity Match.
"It's a development and building term, trying to get some new faces in and seeing if they have Blues potential,said Shanahan.
"Definites, probables and possibles is the three groups - that's where we are at and these next five weeks is seeing these probables and possibles and seeing if anyone can move groups.
"It's also about strength and conditioning so a lot of the work between March and September is in the gym and on the field getting our fitness work done."
That is led by James Owen, who sets the players routines to follow during the summer months in a bid to make sure they return in peak condition in the autumn.
"A lot of it was to do with Daniel Dass making sure the standards are high and when Tom Stanley and Charlie Amesbury came on board, they really pushed it on,said Shanahan."Development and maintenance is this term and next term and into the summer. The captain is key to drive it, but James Owen with his expertise is huge and sets standards to drive it."
Shanahan is supported by forwards' coach Rich Candlin, skills' coach Jack Heald, scrum coach Chris Lloyd and Andy Holloway taking the scrum-halves and kicking.
"It just lifted everything as the Varsity Match is about the little details and getting everything right,said Shanahan.
"I felt we were better prepared this year so I think we need to continue with that and get better as well."
Shanahan sees this as the beginning of a new campaign for the Light Blues, rather than the continuation of the same year.
"We're starting again, this is a new season really,he said."Once the Varsity Match is finished it's a new year. We need to look to December this year and some of the boys will think that's a long way away but we have five games and then we meet in September."