Cambridge women celebrate their victory at StoneXMatt Impey with permission for Varsity

The stage was set. Not at Twickenham, who have hosted the Rugby Union Varsity Matches since 1921, but at StoneX, the new home of the historic rivalry between Cambridge and Oxford. Dressed head to toe in light and dark blues, fans started to fill up the stands in anticipation of the women’s match which was to kick off at 12pm. Cambridge was fighting to win back the trophy from the Dark Blues and boasted a star-studded squad of 14 returning Blues, captained by Emilia Bushrod for the second year.

A key highlight was the selection of CURUFC legend Alice Middleton, who in 2015 boasted an impressive hat-trick of tries as well as conversions meaning she is the CURUFC women’s player with the most ever points from one game. What a woman to have leading from the back! The game kicked off with clear dominance from Cambridge, whose impressive and persistent defence led to a penalty, which was taken by ex-CUAFC Blue Izzy Boothroyd. She swept the ball over the posts, giving the Light Blues the first score of the game. Excitement building, supporters chanting, Cambridge carried their dominance in attack, with carry after carry from the extraordinarily strong forwards leading to a try from Ella Heathfield. The stadium erupted with cheers as the roar of supporters leapt to their feet and celebrated the incredible performance put on show by the entire team. It was set to be a good match. Converted by Boothroyd again meant that the score lay at 10-0.

However, in the 28th minute, Oxford’s scrum-half seized her opportunity after a penalty and darted over the try line, scoring the Dark Blues five points, since it was unconverted. Onto the second half, and our Blues were raring to go. At 47 minutes Oxford’s Webb was sin-binned for a high tackle, followed by Light Blue Alice Middleton in the 65th minute. With 14 players aside, tensions were building, and the trophy was not in the hands of the Light Blues yet … Oxford was starting to show dominance in areas on the pitch, but that was quickly thwarted by the arrival of the bomb-squad, Cambridge’s bench full of huge, energetic props ready to dominate in the scrum just as Oxford’s front row were showing weakness. With fresh energy came fresh power, and tackle after tackle ensured that the Light Blues kept their victory, even with a 76th minute yellow card for Emily Bell, whose absence from the pitch was truly felt. One kick into touch later, and the final whistle blew. Cambridge had won back the trophy, becoming the first ever winners at StoneX, and the scene on the pitch and in the crowds gloriously reflected the display of team spirit, endurance and mindset needed to take the victory. GDBO.

StoneX boasted a great array of entertainment – from DJ sets to food trucks, the slightly smaller venue intended for a party vibe which was missing at Twickenham in years past. Slowly, the crowd started filling up for the men’s match, where Ben Gompels captained the Cambridge side. Unlike the women, the men’s sides had never faced each other this season, so it was hard to anticipate what was to come. It’s safe to say nobody would have expected the utter domination from the Light Blues which would follow.

The game opened in the first few minutes with an Oxford penalty giving them three points, but after that with every tackle and carry made, it was clear that Cambridge had come to win, and the scoreboard soon reflected that. A try scored by scrum-half David Holdroyd as well as two penalties scored by Jamie Benson put Cambridge ahead in the opening ten minutes, giving them security and confidence. The Dark Blue crowd was soon silenced as the power and skill of the Light Blues shone round the stadium, and further tries were scored, and then scored again, by Ben Gompels, Charles Kantolinna, Fergus Hughes, George Bland, Makoto Tosa and Jamie Farndale, with a total of 21 points scored by Jamie Benson.


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After Formidable efforts from all the men, the final score was 56-11, meaning Cambridge are now the record holders for the greatest number of points scored in a single Varsity Match, a title previously held by Oxford in 2014. As the final whistle blew, the stadium erupted with a sea of light blue. Cambridge had scored the double, and the pride and support from fans shows just how much both teams had put into their training to successfully lift the trophies. It was a gorgeous scene to watch, and it was so evidently clear how much it meant to every single player, coach, physio, supporter, family member, CURUFC member to lift the trophy that signified the efforts made as a club had been well and truly successful. Congratulations Cambridge – victories for five out of the six teams in the club embody everything CURUFC has to offer with its strength and conditioning, welfare, socials and history, and this was evidently clear as Bushrod and Gompels lifted their trophies to an enormous excitement of applause and pride.