Fergus Jemphrey was the Twickenham star as his brace of tries helped Cambridge University claim a 15-0 victory over rivals Oxford University in the 138th Varsity Match.
Oxford had won seven of the last nine encounters between the two sides, including the 2018 clash, but this time it was James Shanahan’s men from Grange Road who came out on top.
Former Ulster U18 wing Jemphrey was their star performer with a score in either half as the Light Blues, boosted by the heavyweight presence of international lock pairing James Horwill and Flip van der Merwe, ended the decade on a high.
Former Australian star Horwill and ex-Springbok Van der Merwe won 99 Test caps between them, but the Queens’ students were unable to celebrate their Varsity win due to an exam at 8.00am as part of their Executive MBA exam on Friday.
Van der Merwe in particular was outstanding as Cambridge kept Oxford scoreless. Chris Bell wrapped up the victory for Cambridge late on by diving to the line, but Jemphrey was named man of the match to take home the Alastair Hignell Medal.
Cambridge captain Stephen Leonard spilled Oxford’s kick-off and it summed up a scrappy start as both teams put boot to ball in greasy conditions. Oxford had a bad start to the defence of their title as they lost scrum half George Tressider to illness sin the warm-up, saw No 8 George Messum limp off after seven minutes and then had to replace outside half Tom Humberstone in the 24th minute.
Dark Blues full-back Dan Stoller lit-up the first 10 minutes with a sensational break. He breezed through midfield, but when he attempted to pass inside to flanker Sam Miller, the ball was lost forward and Cambridge escaped.
As in the women’s clash earlier in the day, both side’s scrum-halves kicked on a regular basis as they tested the respective full-backs. Cambridge fly-half Mike Phillips then produced a moment of magic with a sublime chip kick, centre Charlie Watson collected and looked destined for the line, but he was dragged down just short.
The try didn’t arrive then, but the game’s opening score soon did for Cambridge. Light Blues full-back Joey Gatus – who had an outstanding game – led the charge and left wing Jemphrey was in support. His finish was impeccable as he used the wet conditions to slide into the corner after showing a decent turn of pace. The conversion attempt from Phillips went wide.
As if falling behind wasn’t bad enough, Oxford then lost key man Humberstone, who had scored a record equalling 18 points last season, to injury. Henry Hackett was his replacement.
Oxford still remained dangerous in attack and a try looked certain after another clean break, but clever counter-rucking from Cambridge saw them earn a turnover and a scrum put in on their own line. Van der Merwe was having an outstanding first half as Cambridge ended it 5-0 to the good.
Van der Merwe even tried a chip when the game resumed, but Jemphrey’s predatory instincts were soon in evidence once again as this time he showed power instead of pace. From a scrum close to the Oxford line, the ball was spread left to Jemphrey who powered into the corner and Phillips again pushed his kick wide.
Oxford kept probing in attack, but they were met by a strong Cambridge defence as the game went into its final quarter with the Dark Blues 10-0 behind.
The rain continued to pour down and Van der Merwe left the field, but his team were not to be denied as scrum-half Bell dived over with a minute to spare to wrap up victory.
Scorers: Cambridge: Tries: F Jemphrey 2, C Bell
15 Dan Stoller (Wellington College & Queen’s)
14 Ed David * (Harrow School & St Hilda’s, captain)
13 Nick Greenhalgh (Uppingham & Keble)
12 Louis Jackson * (King Edward VI School, Stratford & Oriel)
11 Tom Stileman * (Cranleigh School & Christ Church)
10 Tom Humberstone * (Peter Symonds College & Jesus)
9 Jack Dalton (Bedford School & Keble)
1 Euan Friend (Blundell’s School & University)
2 John Aaron Henry * (Cambridge House GS & Somerville)
3 Ben Parker * (Royal Grammar School, Newcastle & Brasenose)
4 Jasper Dix * (The Perse School & Oriel)
5 Charlie Pozniak * (Manchester GS & St Benet’s Hall)
6 Ryan Jones * (Ibstock Place School & St Edmund Hall)
7 Sam Miller * (Harrow School & St Edmund Hall)
8 George Messum * (Aylesbury GS & Kellogg)
16 Louis Wright (Dulwich College & Trinity) for Henry 79
17 Abhijeet Oswal (The Grammar School, Leeds & St Edmund Hall) for Friend 71
18 Barnaby Vaughan (Bradford GS & Corpus Christi) for Parker 53
19 George Warr * (Eton College & New) for Messum 7
20 Herbert Watson (Latymer Upper School & St Edmund Hall) for Miller 79
21 Seb haddock (Cranleigh School &St Edmund Hall) for Dalton 75
22 Henry Hackett (The Perse School & Christ Church) for Humberstone 24
23 Henry Martin * (Marlborough College & St Benet’s Hall) for David 53
15 Joey Gatus * (Queen Elizabeth GS, Wakefield & Corpus Christi)
14 Tom Lovelace (Hurstpierpoint College & Hughes Hall)
13 Rory Triniman * (Canford School & Hughes Hall)
12 Charlie Watson (The King’s School, Canterbury & Selwyn)
11 Fergus Jemphrey (Sullivan Upper School & Homerton)
10 Mike Phillips * (Bedford Modern School & Emmanuel)
9 Chris Bell *(St Paul’s School & Girton)
1 Charlie MacCallum *(Magdalen Collge School & Downing)
2 Miles Huppatz *(Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School & Downing)
3 Ed Harborne (Lawrence Sheriff School & Clare)
4 Flip Van Der Merwe (Grey College & Queens’)
5 James Horwill (Brisbane Boys College & Queens’)
6 Tom Walton (Nottingham HS & St John’s)
7 Sean McMahon * (Clongowes Wood College & Gonville & Caius)
8 Stephen Leonard * (Llandovery College & Emmanuel, captain)
16 Sam Schusman * (Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School & Magdalene) for Huppatz 77
17 Daniel Collins (Maria Immaculata Community College, Dunmanway & Fitzwilliam) for MacCallum 77
18 George Cook (Brighton College & Robinson) for Harborne 77
19 Rowan Beckett * (Bradford GS & Peterhouse) for Van der Merwe 71
20 Oliver Smart * (Merchant Taylors’ School & Downing) for Walton 68
21 Archie Smeaton (Hymers College & Queens’) for McMahon 55
22 Al Gliksten (Harrow School & Robinson) for Triniman 61
23 Dougal Russell (Havant & South Downs College & St John’s) for Lovelace 55
* Denotes Blue