Home   Sport   Article

Subscribe Now

Varsity Match 2023: Cambridge University RUFC see recent domination of fixture come to an end as Oxford win at Twickenham





Cambridge University RUFC women’s team tasted defeat in the Varsity Match for the first time since 2016 as they went down to a 31-12 loss against their Oxford counterparts at Twickenham this afternoon.

The Light Blues had racked up wins in 2017, 2018 and 2019 before last year’s meeting between the rivals ended in a first ever draw, meaning Cambridge successfully defended the title.

But it has now been snatched from their grasp as Oxford launched a second-half comeback, and in doing so extended their winning head-to-head record in the showpiece fixture to 21-13.

Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell

It was the perfect start for Cambridge, who took just six minutes to score their first try. It was captain Emilia Bushrod who did the honours as she pounced on a loose ball 10 yards from the line and she drove forward unopposed to dot down.

It left Polly Hipkiss with a routine kick for the extras and the Oxford-raised player made no mistake to send Cambridge 7-0 up.

To Oxford’s credit they responded positively to the early setback and the reward came in the 15th minute. Patient build up play eventually found Clodagh Holmes, who having drifted over to the left flank managed to just squeeze over the line despite the best efforts of Cambridge’s Emily Bell. The conversion - from out wide - was off target from Iona Bennett, but Oxford were nevertheless off the mark.

Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell

However, just three minutes later Cambridge reestablished their control on proceedings. It started with the alert Bell as she darted in to make an interception and from there Oxford were under pressure. Cambridge eventually worked the ball to tighthead Grace Inzinyon and she showed tremendous power to force herself over the line. Hipkiss rattled the post with the subsequent conversion, which left the scoreline 12-5 in Cambridge’s favour.

It remained that way going into the break, although Cambridge had to negotiate their way through the final five minutes with one less player after Laura Vass was yellow carded for a high tackle.

But while the Light Blues safely got themselves to half-time, Oxford made their numerical advantage count just three minutes after the restart. They worked the overload to perfection, shifting the ball from right to left before Holmes once again slid in. It was another tough kick for Bennett that went wide, but Oxford had managed to cut their deficit to two points.

Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell

And in the 51st minute they edged themselves in front for the first time. Alex Wilkinson had deployed the tap and go tactic at penalties on more than one occasion during the first half, yet Cambridge failed to heed that warning and the Dark Blues’ number nine caught them cold before bundling beyond four challenges to score.

Bennett then showed her confidence had not been impacted by a couple of misses when she sent a tricky conversion from wide on the left between the posts to hand her side a 17-12 lead.

Oxford had the bit between their teeth and by the hour mark they had a 12-point buffer as Holmes completed her hat-trick. She had Sophie Shams to thank for creating the opening after the centre showed good hands to find the full-back, who held her width well before Bennett once again sent the conversion where it needed to go.

Holmes had been a thorn in Cambridge’s side all afternoon and her influence on the game continued with 10 minutes remaining when she picked up possession 60 yards out, spotted the space and then turned on the afterburners to run in a fourth try, which Bennett converted to end any lingering doubt surrounding the outcome.

Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell
Cambridge Women’s Varsity Rugby Match against Oxford at Twickenham. Picture: Keith Heppell

In the final piece of action Oxford’s Phoebe Jackson took a leaf out of Holmes’ book and ran in a solo try, only for it to be ruled out for a forward pass from Phoebe Smith earlier in the move.



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More