There will be one big absentee from the annual Varsity Match dress rehearsal for Cambridge University at Grange Road this afternoon – Micky Steele-Bodger (kick-off 3.00pm).
The man who created the fixture back in 1948 passed away earlier this year at the age of 93. His son, Guy, has taken over the mantle of gathering the Steele-Bodger’s XV for the big game and his selection will feature a number of former Blues.
But all eyes will be on the Cambridge lock pairing of James Horwill and Flip van der Merwe, who are hoping to use their vast wealth of international experience playing for the Wallabies and Springboks to good use against Oxford at Twickenham on Thursday, 12 December.
Cambridge: Joey Gatus * (Corpus Christi); Tom Lovelace (Hughes Hall), Rory Triniman * (Hughes Hall), Charlie Watson (Selwyn), Fergus Jemphrey (Homerton); Mike Phillips * (Emmanuel), Chris Bell *(Emmanuel); Charlie MacCallum *(Downing), Miles Huppatz *(Downing), Ed Harborne (Clare), James Horwill (Queens’), Flip Van Der Merwe (Queens’), Tom Walton (St John’s), Sean McMahon * (Gonville & Caius), Stephen Leonard * (Emmanuel, captain)
Reps: Sam Schusman * (Magdalene), Daniel Collins (Fitzwilliam), George Cook (Robinson), Rowan Beckett * (Peterhouse), Oliver Smart * (Downing), Archie Smeaton (Queens’), Al Gliksten (Robinson), Sean Mackle (Hughes Hall), Dougal Russell (St John’s)
* Denotes Blue
It should be a particularly interesting afternoon for Van der Merwe as he will find himself playing against his elder brother, Francois, who played professional rugby for the Stormers and Racing 92.
Horwill and Van der Merwe will pack down together in a side that contains eight Blues and will be led by No 8 Stephen Leonard. Saracens centre Charlie Watson joins Rory Triniman in an attractive looking midfield, while Chris Bell is back to partner Mike Phillips at half-back.
The Light Blues have won the eight of the last nine fixtures, including a 26-21 triumph last year. The 2017 captain, Charlie Amesbury and his team mate that year, centre Archie Russell, are both included in the Steele-Bodger XV back line.
Leonard’s men will be hoping to make it a morale boosting four wins in a row as they build-up the annual showdown against Oxford. They have already beaten the Crawshay’s Welsh XV (23-22), British Police (55-7) and a Pacific Islanders XV (54-17) this month.
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY V STEELE-BODGER’S XV RECENT RESULTS
2010 W Cambridge 47-13 Steele-Bodger XV
2011 W Cambridge 17-14 Steele-Bodger XV
2012 W Cambridge 30-10 Steele-Bodger XV
2013 W Cambridge 35-34 Steele-Bodger XV
2014 L Cambridge 16-26 Steele-Bodger XV
2015 W Cambridge 36-33 Steele-Bodger XV
2016 W Cambridge 52-26 Steele-Bodger XV
2017 W Cambridge 53-22 Steele-Bodger XV
2018 W Cambridge 26-21 Steele-Bodger XV