Oxford University men kicked-off their Varsity Match preparations in the USA over the weekend with a squad bolstered by the addition of two international players and two former England Saxons.
Beaten for the first time in seven years at Twickenham last season, Oxford’s new skipper Conor Kearns has been handed a new-look squad for the upcoming season that includes a number of players with top flight experience.
Scottish prop Kyle Traynor and Canadian wing Dan Moore have 18 test caps between them, while former Heineken Cup winner Dom Waldouck won England Saxons honours along with ex-Saracens back row man Andy Saull.
The other member of the famous five newcomers is the former England Sevens internationals Sam Edgerley, who also played for London Irish, Escher and Yorkshire Carnegie in the 15-a-side game. Also new to the Dark Blues squad are Bath Academy wing Henry Martin, Randwick lock Lisiate Fifita and University of Otago hooker Ed Elvin.
They have all joined new skipper Conor Kearns in a 33 strong tour party that play three matches to kick-start their build-up to the 136th Men’s Varsity Match on Thursday 7 December.
Sunday saw OURFC take an opening 31-20 win over American Rugby Premiership side Mystic River in Boston (Full Report), before the Dark Blues tackle the Collegiate All Americans XV in Philadelphia the following Saturday. The tour ends with a game against another Premiership club, the Old Blue side in New York on Friday, 22 September.
The game in Philadelphia against the Collegiate All Americans XV will be the curtain-raiser to the Premiership clash between Saracens and Newcastle Falcons.
The trip has been arranged by the San Francisco-born and Irish educated Kearns, who is a USA Under 20 and 23 cap. His squad will also have full training days with Ivy League universities, Harvard, Yale and Princeton, and the will also train at West Point military academy.
Kearns is one of nine former Blues making the trip, although loose head prop Lewis Anderson, who won all six of his Varsity Match outings, is ineligible for the game at Twickenham in December. They kick-off their domestic fixtures with a tough test against Gloucester at Iffley Road on Wednesday, 4 October.
Early Bird Tickets from £20 adults and £10 students and juniors are now on sale for The Varsity Match 2017, on Thursday 7 December. Click here to buy
Oxford University Men’s USA Tour Squad
Scrum Halves: Sam Edgerley, Tom Kershaw
Fly Halves: Thom Foster, Conor Kearns * (captain), Tom Dyer
Centres: Alex Hogg *, Dom Waldouck, Seb Haddock, Dan Moor
Back 3: Tom Stileman *, Dan Barley, Robbie Fraser, Ed David *, Dylan McGagh, Rob Quinlan
Props: Kieran Ball *, Lewis Anderson *, Michael Gorry, Ben Parker, Noah Miller
Hookers: Ed Elvin, Aaron Henry
Locks: Charlie Pozniak, Lisi Fifita, Hugo McPherson, George Warr, Rob Menzies-Wilson, Ollie Adams
Back Row: Jimmy Beaufils *, Will Thornton *, Sam Miller, Andy Saull, Will Wilson *