Since 1872 ‘The Varsity Match’ has been played between rival English Universities Oxford and Cambridge, known to many as the Battle of the Blues, and this year will take place this year on December 10th at Twickenham Stadium. It’s a fixture with a rich history, and one which portrays all aspects that are great about University and sporting life.
Over the years this match has seen many Sydney University players pull on either the Cambridge or Oxford jumper, including last years’ captain of the match winning Oxford side, Jacob Taylor.
Jacob Taylor was the starting fullback in the 2009 1st Grade Premiership winning side at SUFC, before making the move to China to study at to Liaoning University. He then returned to Sydney University to study Anthropology and Languages, and while back in Australia was selected to represent the Australian national 7s team in 2009, which eventually lead to his Vice-Captaincy of the IRB tour side. In 2013 however, Jacob arrived at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and just a year later was elected as the Oxford Captain for 2014, seeing him lead his side to victory against Cambridge in the 2014 Battle of the Blues fixture (pictured below).
Jacob is just one example of a long history of SUFC players who have participated in The Varsity Match over the last decade, and is part of a select group of SUFC greats that have captained a side to victory.
Edward Carter was the starting fullback in the 2001 Premiership winning 1st Grade side at SUFC, and was the Captain of Cambridge (also known as the Light Blues) to an intervarsity win in 2006. Following Carter at Cambridge was his former SUFC teammate and Australian Rugby great, Daniel Vickerman. Vickerman played as Lock with Carter in the 2001 1st Grade side, and in between his World Cup Wallaby appearances in 2007 and 2011 captained Cambridge to a win in 2009, a performance that is still regarded as one of the finest forwards displays in recent years.
Over on the Oxford side, the Dark Blues’ 2010 victory was led by Nick Haydon, an SUFC premiership winning halfback in 2007 and 2008 (picture below).
To coincide with The Varsity Match, our current SUFC playing group was recently visited by former Cambridge man and SUFC Club Captain (1996) Richard Bailey, who spoke to them about the history and culture of the intervarsity match and its relationship with SUFC over the years.
This year’s 134th Varsity Match will kick-off at 2.30pm at Twickenham Stadium, and although this year both sides are without any Sydney University blood, you can be sure many of the past SUFC participants will be waiting with bated breath on the result. Oxford needs just one more win to make it six in a row to create a new record for the fixture, while Cambridge still leads the series by 61 wins to 58 and will be doing everything possible to further widen the margin.
Whatever happens, it is guaranteed to be a game full of pride, passion and commitment.