Cambridge’s win today marked their second win of the 2021-22 BUCS seasonKane Smith/

Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club (CURUFC) Women came out on top earlier this afternoon (22/01) against Swansea University at Grange Road, beating their BUCS opposition by a score of 25-7.

Briefly looking back to 2021, captain Laura Bleehen’s side struggled to find a steady run of form in the Women’s Premier (South) division, sitting in fourth going into today’s matchup. The Light Blues’ most recent league game ended in 24-5 defeat to Cardiff University back in December, while their only win of the current season came against the Dark Blues of Oxford in their penultimate game of last year. Swansea, on the other hand, found themselves bottom of the table as they made their four-hour trip to the green of Grange Road.

Turning to today’s game, however, Cambridge adamantly set the tone early on, with Cara Prowling producing a huge clearout at the breakdown after several big carries from the Light Blues’ forwards. A dominant scrum in just the third minute created the opportunity for lock Hilde Schneeman to crash over for the first score of the afternoon, followed by skipper Bleehen narrowly missing the conversion from a difficult angle.

Swansea began sloppily, giving away numerous penalties, mainly for offside calls, and thus allowing Cambridge to control the game. The home side almost went two scores ahead in the tenth minute, with Lauren Gregory offloading brilliantly to Colette Russell, whose attempt to do similar ended in a knock-on just short of the line. They did add to their tally moments after, however, as Vianney Gomezgil Yaspik scored from close range, Bleehen unfortunately putting the conversion wide once again to leave the score at 10-0 in favour of the Light Blues.

A nasty injury to the Swansea scrum-half signalled a short break in play, giving a shell-shocked away outfit time to regroup. Yet they bounced back almost immediately after the stoppage, as Cambridge were left exploited by a huge overlap to let Swansea back into the game. The conversion was made to leave the score at 10-7.

Unlike the visitors, Cambridge seemed to lose momentum after the halt in play, with handling errors creeping into their game. Cambridge’s absolute dominance in the scrum remained though, consistently driving Swansea back. Swansea’s distribution was far cleaner, however, allowing them to begin to play some expansive, free-flowing rugby which the Light Blues had been lacking. Despite their superior scrummaging, line-outs proved to be a different proposition entirely, with three first-half turnovers going Swansea’s way.

Cambridge full-back Emily Bell won Varsity’s Player of the Match, putting in a solid performance and earning a try for her effortsKane Smith/

As the second half drew to a close, neither team was able to create real scoring opportunities, and stern defensive work from both meant the referee blew the half-time whistle with the score still at 10-7.

After the break, the referee opted to switch the scrums to uncontested due to Swansea’s mounting injury problems, taking away Cambridge’s primary weapon in the first half. In spite of the glaring sun, Cambridge full-back Emily Bell was solid under the high ball, almost gliding through an opening after gathering one if it were not for an untimely slip.

The first ten minutes of the second half saw Cambridge encamped in Swansea’s 22, with Yaspik eventually adding her second try of the game, forcing her way over after several pick and gos from the base of the breakdown. The conversion fell short, making it 15-7 to the home side.

Brilliant defensive work from Emma Jones prevented a promising Swansea break, with a last-ditch tackle stopping the Swansea outside-centre after a bursting run from inside her own half.

The second forty proved to be as disjointed as the first, with frequent breaks for injury ensuring that neither side could build on any momentum. It took for Bell’s superb individual try to add to Cambridge’s tally, as she picked up a loose ball and darted forty yards to dot down under the posts. Bleehen, who had a tough day from the tee, missed again, leaving Cambridge ahead by 20 points to 7.

Bleehen made up for her miss moments later, however, as she piled over in the corner to make it 25-7.


Mountain View

CURUFC Women’s 88’s Match: Cambridge beat Oxford 15-0

Jones marshalled the Light Blue backline well from fly-half in defence, although potentially could have spread the ball wide more often. Sibella Egerton ran well in the midfield, ably supported by outside-centre Nancy Twigg.

The second half was far more fluid than the first for Cambridge, and they could have easily had more were it not for an admirable defensive performance from the visitors. At the full-time whistle, the score read 25-7, with Cambridge running out deserved winners in their Lent-term return to Grange Road.

Varsity Player of the Match: Emily Bell (Cambridge)

CURUFC Women will take on Swansea once again in their next league fixture, as the Light Blues prepare for both a long journey and rest of the season in their efforts to charge up the table.


Cambridge Starting XV: Laura Bleehen (Girton, Captain)*, Saffron Hicks (Selwyn)*, Vianney Gomezgil Yaspik (St Edmund’s)*, Cara Prowling (St John’s)*, Hilde Schneemann (Darwin)*, Rose Scowen (Magdalene)*, Hetta Friend (Robinson)*, Lauren Gregory (Corpus Christi)*, Colette Russell (Fitzwilliam)*, Emma Jones (Selwyn)*, Suzi Pozniak (St Catharine’s), Sibella Egerton (Gonville & Caius), Nancy Twigg (Homerton), Millie Bushrod (Pembroke)*, Emily Bell (Fitzwilliam)*

Cambridge Replacements: Bridget Withers (Churchill), Rhiannon Osborne (St Catharine’s)*, Sophie Johnson Bridget Withers (Churchill), Sophie Lamont (Corpus Christi), Roksana Dutkiewicz (Darwin), Polly Hipkiss (Queens’), Rosie Lewis (Sidney Sussex)

*Denotes Blue

Swansea Starting XV: Unconfirmed

Swansea Replacements: Unconfirmed