The description on IMBD to the Action/Adventure/Comedy Happy Feet with a rating of 6.4 out of 10 reads as follows: “Into the world of the Emperor Penguins, who find their soul mates through song, a penguin is born who cannot sing. But he can tap dance something fierce.”
The same may be said of Oxford. Like happy feet, the Blues “cannot sing [well]” (aside for you, Sam Reynolds and Tom Mewes), but all the Men’s Blues alike “dance[d] something fierce” to beat the Penguins XV by a score of 43 to 7 this past Wednesday, November 22nd. In doing so, the Blues led by Captain Jack Glover retained the Alan Wright Trophy.
Slippery conditions marked the beginning of this late November contest with players on both sides losing their feet in the breakdown. So far in this season, it has been characteristic of the Blues to enjoy success early in the game through pressure around the breakdown, side-stepping-generated line breaks, and overall champagne rugby.
This past Wednesday, the Blues not only capitalized on their moments of brilliance, but the team strung together brilliant bits of play into a cohesive attacking and defensive strategy that put points on the board. Some noteworthy bits are a first career start by Otis Walker at blindside flanker, a return to the Blues after an Achilles injury by Hector Skipworth at left wing, and two career debuts by numbers 19 and 20, Matt Wall and Luke Newland.
At six minutes, Blues found themselves in a five-meter scrum, driving the Penguins back simultaneously creating enough space for a wondrous crash ball by Luke Wyllie, who flew through a gap untouched. (The same cannot be said later when his eye swelled to the size of a grapefruit.) Just seven minutes later, Jack Hamilton picked from the ruck and accelerated the length of the pitch to score. Archie King successfully made both conversions, bringing the score to 14 – 0 at 14 minutes.
After being held up in the try zone at 26 minutes, the Blues managed to rebound and score at 31 minutes. Tom Mewes in his characteristic Park End-learned dance skills touched the ball in the corner. Captain Jack Glover then scored at 40 minutes to put the finishing touches on a dominant half by the Blues. The Score was 29 to 0.
While it may run the risk of excessive repetition to say, “Oxford scored again and again,” one saying seems true: success begets success. Paddy Mayhew dots the ball down out wide and Archie King nails the conversion. The score was 36 – 0.
Less than theatrical, the second half settled into a bit of a stalemate. Then, Sam Reynolds committed the cardinal sin of stepping back in towards the ruck, though the former fullback’s feet danced him into the try zone. Archie King slots the last conversion to put the last of Oxford’s points on the board (43 – 0).
The Penguins XV after some determined effort at the breakdown forced a score at 76 minutes by the eponymous left wing “Mr. Rugby.” In a moment of true rugby spectacle, the Penguins’ replacement prop, #17, slots the conversion to bring the score to 43-7, which would remain until the end of the game. Other notable news includes Luke Newland living up to his club nickname of “Kabib” and getting a yellow card in his Blues debut.
The Blues will face Major Stanleys at home on November 29th, 2023, their last game before they fly overseas to compete with several sides in their tour of the United States.
By Griffiin Gudaitis