Cambridge are now less than a month away from their Varsity Match against Oxford at Twickenhan on Saturday 2nd AprilKatie E. Kasperson

Cambridge University were defeated 35-14 by Trinity College Dublin (TCD) yesterday evening (10/3) at Grange Road, marking three defeats in the last four games for the Light Blues.

As the home side entered the tail-end of a season plagued by injuries, Thursday’s game was no different, with Cambridge suffering multiple absentees. However, Stephen Leonard returned to captain the side following his absence from the victory over Crawshays Welsh XV, while Alex King retained his place at fly-half.

Cambridge went into the bi-annual fixture knowing that TCD would pose a stern test, perhaps bearing in mind the dominating 50-0 win back in 2016 from the Irish students.

As Cambridge’s preparation for the Varsity match on Saturday 2nd April ramps up, they suffered a bruising first-half performance, in which very little went right.

The first ten minutes gave the Light Blues hope, but despite being camped on TCD’s line they couldn’t force a way over and came away empty-handed.

A few minutes later, TCD showed Cambridge how to play clinical rugby. With their first proper attack in Cambridge’s half, powerful ball carrying got them near to the try line before Giuseppe Coyne crashed over from short range, with Michael O’Kennedy adding the conversion.

TCD continued to look dangerous with the speed of their attacking moves, and by this point the momentum had swung completely in their favour. They made this count on the scoreboard in the 15th minute, when a solid line out and driving maul enabled Alan Francis to score, and the extras were also added to give TCD a 14-0 lead.

The solidity of TCD’s set-piece contrasted with Cambridge’s own woes, who were finding it difficult to establish any attacking platforms or territory, suffering heavily at the scrum and conceding three scrum penalties in the first half. On top of this, their line out was also malfunctioning, with TCD stealing the ball three times at the line out in the opening forty.

TCD winger Ronan Quinn was a constant thorn in Cambridge’s side, proving to be the best player on the pitch. There are very few players who can beat Cambridge’s Tim Andrew for pace, but this man seemed to be jet fuelled.

Cambridge felt the full effect of this in the 28th minute, when Quinn picked up the loose ball on the halfway line. Surrounded by Light Blue players and with what looked like nowhere to go, he put his foot down and danced through half of the Cambridge team, scoring an unbelievable solo try to put TCD 21-0 up.

Cambridge had only their second decent attack of the half in the 36th minute, but again came away with nothing to show, and it went from bad to worse before the break when Matt Pettit was sin-binned for a cynical attempt to stop TCD taking a quick penalty.

With Varsity just around the corner, it was important that Cambridge came out with intent in the second half to prevent an embarrassing scoreline, and they certainly reemerged in much better shape. Despite still being down to fourteen men, a couple of huge defensive sets prevented TCD from adding to their lead.

The Cambridge scrum also looked more solid, while the powerful running of Archie Smeaton was giving Cambridge forward momentum in attack. However, against the run of play in the 49th minute, the TCD’s Matt Junghmann picked and went straight through the ruck. A superb conversion from the fly-half meant that the lead was extended to 28-0.

But Cambridge quickly regained momentum, and finally made it count on the scoreboard in the 52nd minute. A superb offload from Charlie Friend unleashed Cambridge’s very own speedster Andrew, who showed his excellent finishing ability to dash round the final man and score Cambridge’s first try.

Yet, sometimes all you need is one man capable of magic to completely swing the momentum of a match, and in Quinn TCD had just that. Deep inside TCD’s half, Cambridge spilled the ball in contact. It was quickly shipped out wide to Quinn, who accelerated at lightning speed to run the rest of the length of the pitch and restore his side’s advantage to 28 points.

In all credit to Cambridge, they didn’t let this dampen their spirits and didn’t concede for the remaining 25 minutes of the match. The scrum continued to provide a far more solid platform for Cambridge, while Smeaton continued to dominate the contact. One man who particularly stepped up towards the end of the half was Cambridge centre Sam Odu.


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In the 71st minute, Cambridge were on the TCD 22, when Odu received the ball. Moments later, having threaded a gap in the defence and stepped around the final man, he scored a superb try under the posts.

Just moments later, determined to show the Cambridge coaches why he deserves a spot in the Varsity lineup, Odu made a hugely powerful break from halfway, shrugging off four tackles before his offload just missed putting Andrew in for what would have been his second try of the night.

The game ended 35-14 to TCD. Despite defeat, a vastly improved second half will give Cambridge a lot to be hopeful about going forward, plus it's unlikely that they’ll have to face a winger as quick as Quinn anytime soon.

Cambridge will take on Coventry next Wednesday (16/3) in a home clash, as they continue on their journey to facing Oxford at Twickenham next month.

Varsity Player of the Match: Ronan Quinn (TCD)


Cambridge Starting XV: Ben Jackson (Sidney Sussex)*, James Wright (Jesus), Matt Pettit (Clare)*, Jason Kururangi (St Edmund's)*, Charlie Friend (St John's), Stephen Leonard (Emmanuel, Captain)*, Tom Walton (St John's)*, Archie Smeaton (Queens'), David Holdroyd (Jesus), Alex King (St Catharine's), Tim Andrew (Jesus), Sam Odu (Gonville & Caius), Jonny Andrews (Homerton), Ikechi Mere (St John's), Dougal Russell (St John's)*

Cambridge Replacements: Luke Parry (Downing)*, Paddy Harris (Hughes Hall), Laurence Marwood (St Edmund's), Daniel Montesino Jones (St John's), Demi Obembe (Churchill)*, Charles Favell (Homerton)*, Angus McIntosh (Jesus), Adam Wylie (Girton)

*Denotes Blue

TCD Starting XV: Aran Egan, Liam McMahon, Matt Jungmann, Gavin Jones, Ronan Quinnm, Michael O'Kennedy, Louis O'Reilly, Giuseppe Coyne, Ben Nel, Thomas Connolly, Harry Sheridan, Jamie Berrisford, Arn Coleman, Alan Francis, Diamuid McCormack

TCD Replacements: Donnacha Mescal, Darren Magee, Neil Howard, Jody Booth, Cormac King, Aran Egan, Tiarnan McCloskey, Louis McDonough