Gary Street admitted to being as emotional as when he steered England to the Women’s World Cup title as he was watching Oxford University hang onto a 3-0 lead for 65 minutes to win the Varsity Match at Twickenham.
The Dark Blues over turned a 52-0, eight try thrashing in 2015 to completely upset the odds as they put in more than 200 tackles to halt Cambridge in their tracks. A single penalty from Oxford skipper Catherine Wilcock decided the game and earned her side the title for the first time since 2014.
“That was quite extraordinary from a group of girls who only came together a year ago. I am lost for words really. At half-time I said, ‘we can win this if we are brave’ and they were just that,” said Street.
“I was as emotional as I was when England won the World Cup. This group of players have not had that experience but they fought for every inch and every ball.”
Dark Blues full-back Sophie Trott was at the forefront of the valiant defensive effort making a number of last-ditch tackles to stop a dramatic Cambridge fightback. She won the Bunting-Peggers medal as the player of the match.
“We have seen over the past 12 months what an outstanding talent Sophie is”, said Street. “She is like that week in, week out. Unless they are exceptional, then they are not going past Sophie. That tackle in the corner with minutes to go was the best of the bunch I think.
“She does not realise how good she is really. There were some England coaches here watching, so I think they could have a good look at her.”
Trott was on hand to halt Sophie Farrant and Lara Gibson from scoring in a pulsating final ten minutes which had Oxford on the back foot. No wonder, then, that she was ecstatic after the final whistle.
“We just had to keep going. We knew we could do it. We have been doing it all season, everyone knew what they had to do and everyone stuck to their job which was good,” said Trott.
“It’s very pleasing, we all worked so hard. I am so proud of everyone today; we did not leave anything out there.”