On Saturday the 13th, the England U20’s defeated the Oxford University Men’s Blues by a score of 44-5. Returning to England with a fair share of tan lines and incredible stories about American university life, the Oxford Men’s Blues hunkered down for a tough match against the England U20’s. In the World Rugby U20 Championship, the English nationals finished fourth, losing 22-15 to South Africa in a physical contest.
The winter air was crisp with the temperature sitting around four degrees as 2,500 fans packed into the Iffley pitch. Beyond the student stands, spectators from all around Oxfordshire came to watch this historic contest. In the spirit of support, Oxford and England stands sold kit to excited school children while parents and relatives enjoyed hot drinks served by players of the Men’s and Women’s sides.
England initially proved formidable to the boys in blue, generating quick ball and stringing several phases that led to an early score by English flanker Henry Pollock. Despite the clearly high skill level of their opponents, the Men’s Blues rose to the challenge, dishing out double tackles and some impressive edge defensive by Wolfe Morn in his first start as an outside centre.
Soon enough, the contest descended into a classic end to end affair. With expansive play from both teams the main focus of the agenda. On numerous occasions, amidst the chaos of the breakdown, Oxford generated some cheeky chips at midfield. On one such occasion, Oxford Lock Seth Dockery ran and collected a loose ball chipped by Halfback Jack Hamilton on the most sloth-like line Iffley pitch has ever seen but was tackled just short of the goal line.
In response, England remained poised, generating successive scores off sloppy missed passes and mistakes around the breakdown. Oxford would eventually score in brilliant fashion. After a brief stint in outside centre, Sam Reynolds made excellent use of his familiar position at fullback, stepping back towards the ruck and chipping off his right foot less than a meter away from the defensive line. Excellently placed, the ball fell into Captain Jack Glover’s hands, and he joyously scored in the corner.
England look to face Italy for their first match in the U20 Six Nations on February 2nd, and the OURFC Men and Women’s Blues build a campaign to seek victory in their respective Varsity Matches. Kickoff will commence on March 2nd, and the Varsity games will be held in StoneX stadium, home to Saracens Premiership Club.
Tickets for the Varsity Matches are now available for purchase through this link -- https://www.eticketing.co.uk/saracens/EDP/Event/Index/216?spell=931b4614-389e-4aaa-a1f4-22a5c8212678 -- and the OURFC Instagram page. We look forward to seeing you there. Shoe the tabs!
Match report by Griffin Gudaitis
Match Day Programme: