Rare rugby scoreless draw as Cambridge University and Royal Navy sink in the mud
Extremely testing conditions lead to abandonment
With the visit of the Royal Navy to face Cambridge University, the heavens decided to try to make them feel at home on the water, but the problem was it the Grange Road pitch into a mudbath.
Seldom do you see a 0-0 draw in rugby, and the merits of this result may be considered after referee George Richardson abandoned the match after 63 minutes.
However, it is usually deemed that a score will stand if more than 60 minutes have been played, and given the endeavours of both sets of players, it certainly should do.
The conditions were virtually unplayable but both sides were giving it their all to get the game going and the ball moving.
The Royal Navy players had travelled many miles to face the Light Blues, including one player who had driven seven-and-a-half hours from Plymouth to take part.
Richardson had checked with both captains to confirm they wanted to start the game, and they were eager to play.
The problem was footing was tricky as the pitch squelched with the mud and the pouring rain made handling a virtual no-go as the ball was just impossible to control.
There was some fierce defence from both sides though, as once players did manage to get a bit of a foothold and a head of steam, the opposition were quite literally slipping off tackles such was the wringing wet shirts.
It was taking combinations to halt the opposition, and, in a perverse way, that teamwork and putting the body on the line should help stand the Royal Navy in good stead for their clash with RAF for the BT Cup at the Twickenham Stoop on April 20.
The visitors did go the closest to scoring, when Nathan Huntley crossed the line in the first half, but the ball was deemed to have been a knock-on.
Dave Fairbrother, the Royal Navy No 8, was their leading threat, and it was taking some big hits from the students to stop him, while on the other side of things, there was a lot of hard-running from Cambridge captain Nick Koster to put his side on the front foot.
The university can certainly take some heart in the way they were applying the pressure on their opponents and should carry that forward next season; it was just that getting over the try-line was challenging.
The Light Blues had become dark brown by the end of the first half, and so a change of shirts was required but with the rain unrelenting it seemed only a matter of time before the game was abandoned.
Richardson had called in captains Koster and Ben Priddey to ask their views about continuing after 50 minutes, and after consulting their teams, they both wanted to carry on.
However, the inevitable happened after 63 minutes as Richardson had little choice but to abandon the game.
With the score standing, it ended the university’s 2017/18 season with a fourth draw and cause for optimism for the next academic year.
Cambridge University: Blick; Hattea, Craib, Hennessey, Baines; Perks, Bell; MacCallum, Huppatz, Troughton, Hunter, Eriksen, Leonard, Hammond, Koster.
Replacements: Schusman, Dean, Rose, Saunders, Phillips, Smith.
Royal Navy: Mne P Coy; AET T Notman, Mne S Raumikita, AET G Loydal, Logs Kurrusas; Mne N Huntley, AET J Oulton; LA (AH) K Mason, LPT B Priddey, AET C Warner, Musn E Pascoe, AET S Makepeace, Mne R Vakalutukali, Mne J Hayler, Cpl D Fairbrother.
Replacements: Musn H Marsh, AET K Beasley, AB (MW) C Frogley, Mne J Cheshire, ETWE (CIS) M Harvey, NA K Moore, Cpl M Warrick, LPT J Basjer, AET B Janes.
Referee: George Richardson.