The Cambridge Women's side celebrating their hard-fought victoryLevente Koroes

Cambridge have seen out the Dark Blues 10-5 this afternoon (04/07) to claim victory in the 2021 Women’s Varsity Rugby Match at the Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium in Leicester.

After a rendition of the national anthem and a knee in solidarity, the women’s game kicked off at 13:00 (BST). Oxford started very impressively, dominating the early minutes of the first half, and capitalising on the opportunity they created. Within five minutes, Italian international Bianca Coltellini scored, having received the ball from a quickly-taken penalty just outside the Cambridge 5 metre line to run straight through the Cambridge defence. However, the Oxford fly-half and captain Fiona Kennedy was unable to put the conversion through the posts, despite kicking from a relatively convenient spot just to the right of the posts.

This was to prove the difference between the two sides in the first half until, with roughly 15 minutes remaining of the first half, Cambridge centre Maggie Simpson ran wide to the left and got away from the Oxford winger to put the ball down in the far corner. Crucially, Number 8 Anna Park was able to squeeze the conversion in from the left touchline to put Cambridge two points ahead going into the second half.

Ultimately, while Oxford started the strongest, Cambridge realistically had the better first half, getting across the tryline a total of four times, but earning only seven points for their efforts.

The second half continued much as the first ended, with the sides looking mostly even. Oxford, however, aside from a few dangerous runs from Wales international Manon Johnes and Megan Isaac, created very few chances and saw very little of the Cambridge half, let alone their try line. Around halfway through the second half, Anna Park had the ball over the Oxford try line yet again, although the Dark Blue defence were again able to hold it up. Despite a slight Cambridge edge, the scoreline remained the same (5-7) and a try could still have tipped the game either way. With 15 minutes left to play, Anna Park helped put Cambridge further ahead with her converted penalty to make it 10-5.

Anna Park scores the penalty to make it 10-5 to CambridgeLevente Koroes

From this point on, though, Oxford did not look to threaten the Cambridge defence, with most of the play going the other way. Had the handling between Shuttleworth and Osborne been slightly better, as Cambridge broke down the right flank, the game could surely have been over, with 10 minutes to play. Just minutes before full time, Anna Park also missed an opportunity, putting a relatively easy penalty just to the right of the posts.

However, it ultimately made no difference as Cambridge came away with a 10-5 win, extending their winning streak to four matches after victories in 2017, 2018 and 2019, leaving Oxford with twenty-one overall wins in the fixture and Cambridge now on thirteen.

You can follow all the action in the 139th Men’s Varsity Match from 15:30 (BST) on our live blog.


Cambridge Starting XV: Ella Harcrow (Murray Edwards), Hetta Friend (Robinson), Emily Bell (Fitzwilliam), Maggie Simpson (Hughes Hall), Emma Jones (Selwyn), Elisha Clark (St John’s), Colette Russell (Fitzwilliam), Liz Stevenson (Darwin), Charlotte Spruzen (Queens’), Vianney Gomezgill Yaspik (St Edmund’s), Saffron Hicks (Selwyn), Hilde Schneemann (Darwin), Jenni Shuttleworth (Churchill), Fiona Shuttleworth (Churchill), Anna Park (Newnham)

Cambridge Replacements: Rhiannon Osborne (St Catharine’s), Laura Bleehen (Girton), Alice Elgar (Girton), Rose Scowen (Magdalene), Cara Prowling (St John’s), Emilia Bushrod (Pembroke), Jen Atherton (Jesus), Suzi Pozniak (St Catharine’s)

Oxford Starting XV: Clodagh Holmes (Chellaston Academy & University), Maddie Hindson (Monks Walk School & University), Megan Carter (Lincoln), Bianca Coltellini (Keble), Helen Potts (New), Fiona Kennedy (St Hilda’s), Manon Johnes (St Catherine’s), Maya Mellor (Somerville), Milly Cadman (St Hugh’s), Jessi Abele (Exeter), Katie Collis (Lincoln), Carla Schmidt (New), Megan Isaac (Exeter), Alex Travers (Worcester), Hannah Cooper (Worcester)

Oxford Replacements: Ruby James (Brasenose), Ginny Gough (Regent’s Park), Iris Maxfield (St Anne’s), Alex Allum-Pearce (St Hugh’s), Rachel Martin (Brasenose), Stella Farmer (Worcester), Laurel Chor (Christ Church), Chloe Hawley (St Catherine’s)