Daniel Dass praises Cambridge University’s Varsity Match heroes
Daniel Dass hailed Cambridge University’s win in the 135th Varsity Match as “fantastic”.
The Light Blues were on a run of six successive defeats, and captain Dass had played in two of those matches.
But they arrested that run of form with a 23-18 win over Oxford, with tries from Mike Phillips and Rory Triniman and 13 points from the boot of Fraser Gillies.
“It’s been a tough 364 days,” said Dass, reflecting on the last year after the 12-6 loss in 2015.
“It’s been unbelievable, I’m just so happy to get the win just to see how happy the boys are. To see them get the win, be part of that team and us all to get the win, it’s fantastic.
“And then to see the stands and all the Old Blue and the boys I played with last year and the year before, it’s fantastic for all of those people.”
Dass was joined in lifting the Varsity Match trophy by loose-head prop Will Briggs, who had played in five of the previous six defeats.
“It feels weird lifting the trophy on your own because for 20 minutes I wasn’t even on the field – it’s a team performance, if you could everyone would lift it,” said Dass.
“For Will, it’s so special because six losses no-one has ever had that.
“It’s easy to come back each year if you win. It’s easy to come back because you’re getting that reward but for Will to come back each year, this is his seventh, and each year to come back and work for it is unbelievable.
“It’s so admirable. It was tough for me to come back after last year, but for him to do it six years in a row is unbelievable.”
Cambridge University head coach James Shanahan was thrilled to earn victory in his third attempt, which was split across two spells.
“We’re really happy, really proud of the boys,” said Shanahan. “It’s the most confident I have gone into a Varsity Match.
“I knew it would be difficult, obviously they always are but the way the group’s worked – it may not be the most talented group I’ve had – the attitude and the application has been outstanding, and the last four games has shown that.
“We had two weeks of great preparation and to come away with the win in not a perfect game, which it’s never going to be, I’m really happy and really proud of the boys and happy for Dan (Dass) and the rest of them because they have worked so hard.
“I just put things in place and they are the ones that have delivered.
“I was relieved at the end when we made it a little bit tighter than I probably wanted at 10 points up, but it’s a win so we will enjoy that and no-one is really going to care about the scoreline, it’s just the result.
“This group of lads have been outstanding, led by Daniel Dass.
“I think his relaxed demeanour really helps us because on the field in the Varsity Match there’s such pressure but because our leader was relaxed – and I’m a fairly relaxed person - I think the players make better decisions when they’re under pressure.
“Maybe last year we were a little bit frantic and on the edge and that was probably the difference between this year and last year.”