CURUFC graciously performed a guard of honour for Bristol at the end of the gameLiam Kline

Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club (CURUFC) Women this afternoon (13/10) lost to Bristol University Women 17-41 in their opening fixture of the British University and College Sport (BUCS) 2021-22 season at Grange Road. The Cambridge side will ply their trade in the Women’s Premier South division this year.

After the postponement of last season’s BUCS competition, CURUFC were eager to get their campaign underway. In terms of tracking latest competitive form, the side can joyously rewind to the summer warmth of July, where they emerged victorious over Oxford in the annual Varsity Rugby Match (04/07). More recently (02/10), however, Cambridge’s women endured defeat against a very strong Old Girls side, losing the friendly 0-62 in their first home fixture of the current season.

Going into today’s matchup, captain Laura Bleehen was joined by fourteen fellow Blues, while new additions Sophie Lamont and Rosie Lewis earned their place in the starting group. Lamont played for the CURUFC Tigers last season, with her final game coming against the Oxford University Rugby Football Club (OURFC) Panthers this past summer, contributing a well-worked try in what unfortunately ended in a 10-22 loss. Meanwhile, Lewis joins the Light Blues as a first-year postgraduate student, after completing a Bachelor of Science in Geography at the University of Manchester. She boasts a wealth of experience, previously being a Committee member for the institution’s female rugby club.

Turning to the fixture, CURUFC looked sharp during the warm-up, with the whole squad practicing line-out drills. The home side certainly looked the more dangerous in the minutes leading up to the starting whistle, but Bristol’s intimidating bangs and cries of hype from the dressing room echoed around Grange Road, promising a lively affair.

A Bristol kick got the game underway, quickly leading to an unfortunate Cambridge spill that resulted in a line-out for the away side. After her team successfully worked it across the field with some fluid passing, Bristol captain Emily Codd stormed down the left wing to secure a try with just one minute on the clock, exposing Cambridge’s defence with ease. During what proved to be an unsuccessful conversion, CURUFC huddled in an effort to organise themselves after this early 0-5 setback.

In response to Bristol’s score, Cambridge tried their luck down the left-wing, but was ultimately matched by a stern travelling defence. Strong work in the centre by Saffron Hicks and Bleehen looked to get Cambridge going, as a couple of decisions began going in the home side’s favour. With some brilliant offloads coming down the left-wing and play described by one supporter as “champagne rugby”, CURUFC were beginning to look dangerous.

At long last, Cambridge got on the scoreboard after twenty minutes of action, with flanker Rose Scowen taking advantage of a strong scrum to earn the breakthrough and level the tie at 5-5.

But Bristol didn’t stay quiet for long. Despite some brilliant tackles in the centre by Cambridge’s Emily Bell, the away side secured a well-worked try in the 25th minute, followed by a cool conversion from Maddie Rendell to make it 5-12. Five minutes later, Bristol struck again with a third try, piercing the left side of Cambridge’s back line. A second successful conversion from Rendell pushed the score up to 5-19.

However, CURUFC managed to display a late burst of quality in the final minutes of the first half, as Emma Jones topped off yet another strong scrum from the home side with a hard-fought try. Bleehen’s unlucky conversion attempt left the score reading 10-19 going into the break.

Much like in the game’s opening few minutes, Bristol sprung out of the dressing room with serious intensity, breaking down the valiant one-woman wall of Hetta Friend to extend their lead to 10-24. A few timely hits by Friend proved not enough to stop the force that was Bristol’s attack.


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Now with an impetus to really take the game to Bristol, CURUFC enjoyed a spell of dominance in the centre of the park, with Bleehen executing a couple of strong, battering runs in an effort to break down a resilient defence. In spite of this physical authority, Cambridge largely struggled to string together that all-important sequence of passes to slip through the Bristol wall. It wasn’t until the 60th minute that the home side was able to alter the score with a well-earned try, making it 24-17 and Bristol’s lead within fighting reach going into the final twenty minutes.

Yet this proved to be Cambridge’s last flurry of success in the afternoon, as three consecutive tries by the away team finished the affair at 17-41. Bristol’s Georgia Newman crafted a brilliant 40-yard dash that resulted in Nat Sodzi collecting her side’s penultimate try, while Newman one-upped herself in the closing minute by storming the length of the field to round off both a remarkable solo and team performance.

A lot of wayward passes and costly fumbles ultimately stunted Cambridge’s attack today, but they’ll hope to iron out these mistakes as they progress through this exciting season. Looking ahead to CURUFC’s next game (27/10), the Light Blues will travel west to face Cardiff University, who smashed Swansea University 54-0 earlier today.


Cambridge Starting XV: Laura Bleehen (Girton), Rhiannon Osborne (St Catherine’s), Vianney Gomezgil (St Edmund’s), Cara Prowling (St John’s), Lauren Gregory (Corpus Christi), Sophie Lamont (Corpus Christi), Rose Scowen (Magdalene), Saffron Hicks (Selwyn), Colette Russell (Fitzwilliam), Emma Jones (Selwyn), Tabbie Brough (Queens’), Hetta Friend (Robinson), Emily Bell (Fitzwilliam), Rosie Lewis (Sidney Sussex), Ella Halcrow (Murray Edwards)

Cambridge Replacements: Sophie Johnson (Pembroke), Euodia Dodd (King’s), Apriya Millan (Fitzwilliam), Hilde Schneeman (Darwin), Roksana Dukiewicz (Darwin), Suzi Pozniak (St Catherine’s)

Bristol Starting XV: Pauline Barker, Alex Johnston, Helen Barker, Chlöe Fletcher, Kitty VF, Caitlin Trevithick, Leana Greenstein, Frankie Woolf, Esther Miles, Maddie Rendell, Nat Sodzi, Georgia Newman, Vicky Baxter, Katie Hains, Emily Codd (C)

Bristol Replacements: Anna Bancroft, Anna Visher, Lieske Oomen, Kirsten Swinscoe, Maggie Hishon, Amy Woods, Anneliese McCullough