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Hugo Lloyd-Williams makes late charge to earn Cambridge University spot to face Oxford in Varsity Match

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Hugo Lloyd-Williams has made a late charge to earn a spot in Cambridge University's Varsity Match team. Picture: Keith Heppell
Hugo Lloyd-Williams has made a late charge to earn a spot in Cambridge University's Varsity Match team. Picture: Keith Heppell

Hugo Lloyd-Williams has produced a storming late run to earn a place in the Cambridge University starting line-up to face Oxford University in the Varsity Match on Sunday, July 4.

The blind-side flanker has capped a memorable five days by being selected for the Light Blues by captain Stephen Leonard.

Lloyd-Williams produced a man-of-the match performance to help Cambridge University win the Varsity Rugby League Match for the first time in 12 years last Friday night, with a 14-8 win over Oxford at Grange Road.

He was back at the same venue the next day to make his first appearance for the Blues squad, and delivered another starring role as they beat North Walsham 31-7.

It was a display that booked a spot in the back row to face the Dark Blues at the Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

“He had been doing very well for the LX Club, and I think he had been captaining them a little bit and led them very well from the front,” said captain Stephen Leonard.

“We had been getting whispers that he had been working very well.

“We invited him to come up and play last weekend, and about five minutes after I asked him to play we found out he had the rugby league varsity on Friday night.

“I heard rumours he was hobbling about, messaged him but he said he would ice up.

“He turned up and was absolutely class again, probably man of the match two days in a row.

“You can’t not include him. We’re really excited to see what he does because he is full of energy, and he is absolutely desperate to hit people.”

There are seven Blues in the Cambridge line-up, with four of them – Charlie Watson, Jake Hennessey, Fergus Jemphrey and Joey Gatus – in the back line, which looked like a fierce battle for places.

“We had some tough conversations throughout the term trying to figure out what we wanted to do,” said Leonard.

“You’re looking at this team and saying how on earth do you pick a starting midfield and bench. They are some of the more difficult conversations, going round telling some of these guys that in any other year would easily be in the starting line-up that they are not even in the squad.

“But we’re pretty confident that we’ve got the best combination on the pitch and then we’ve got the guys on the bench who are ready to finish the job.

“It’s always difficult ending with selection because you know there are quite serious ramifications and I think the hard thing this year – as it was last year as well – you just have this group of 30 guys who just put everything into it.

“It’s difficult when you get to the end and you have to select 23 out of 30 when you know there are seven people who miss out. It is not from a lack of effort; really, a lot of the time, it is almost circumstantial.

“We’ve had a few guys miss out this term just because it is short and they have missed a few games through injury or exams or have had to miss a couple of games through self-isolating there is not really a lot you can do about that.

“We had a few pretty serious selection headaches, particularly with the fact it is a slightly different game to other years.”

But he added: “I’m pretty excited with the final composition and that we can do some pretty special things when we get out there.”

Leonard is one of three returning Blues in the pack, along with Danny Collins and Tom Walton, as Cambridge bid to follow up their victory in the last Varsity Match, a 15-0 win in 2019.

Oxford, who are led by George Messum, have nine Blues in their starting line-up.

Cambridge University: Joey Gatus* (Corpus Christi); Sam Isaacs (Hughes Hall), Jake Hennessey* (Trinity), Charlie Watson* (Selwyn), Fergus Jemphrey* (Homerton); Etienne Dussarte (St Catharine’s), Charles Favell (Homerton); Danny Collins* (Fitzwilliam), Jamey Chaudhry (Homerton), Matt Pettit (Clare), Tom Walton* (St John’s), Zac Bischoff (St John’s), Hugh Lloyd-Williams (St John’s), Demi Obembe (Churchill), Stephen Leonard (Emmanuel).

Replacements: Luke Parry (Downing), Ben Jackson (Sidney Sussex), George Cook (Robinson), Rowan Beckett (Peterhouse)*, Matt West (St John’s), James Elms (Magdalene), Max Loveridge (Jesus), Suwi Chibale (Queen’s).

Oxford University: Dan Stoller* (Queen’s); Louis Jackson* (Oriel), Nick Greenhalgh* (Keble), Andrew Humberstone (Wolfson), Rob Quinlan (Jesus); Tom Humberstone* (Jesus), Calum Grant (St Anne’s); John Aaron Henry* (Somerville), Will Barker (Keble), Euan Friend* (University), Jasper Dix* (Oriel), Piers van Dadelszen (St Edmund Hall), Sam Miller* (St Edmund Hall), Andrew Durutalo (Green Templeton), George Messum* (Kellogg).

Replacements: Louis Wright* (Trinity), Barnaby Vaughan* (Corpus Christi), Matt Dennis-Soto (Kellogg), Kearnan Myall (Kellogg), Herbert Watson* (St Edmund Hall), Rory Tegner (Pembroke), Henry Hackett* (Christ Church), Will Wright (Linacre).

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