Cambridge skipper Kate Marks said it was the winning feeling from their build-up to the 30th anniversary Women’s Varsity Match that carried them through to victory over Oxford at Twickenham.
Marks’ side came into the game on the back of a seven match winning streak in their BUCS league and just had enough to hang on for an 8-5 victory to retain their title over their arch-rivals and close the gap over the 30 years to 19-13.
“We knew it was going to be different to our other games this season. It was a Varsity Match, a cup final and it was a 50-50 game coming in,” said Marks.
“It was a real tussle, but we knew what victory tasted like coming in after winning every game in our league. Oxford really put us under pressure and made it an 80 minute game.
“They pushed us all the way to the end, but we had trained incredibly hard for 12 weeks and we went to the last minute to prove our worth.”
Cambridge came into the game averaging 47 points and seven tries per game this season and built-up an 8-0 lead thanks to a try from No 8Emily Pratt and a penalty from Alice Elgar. They then conceded a 77th minute try to Oxford lock Katie Collis, which was their first at Twickenham, their first since 2014 and ended a 241 minute wait for a score in the Varsity Match.
“I have been dreaming of this day since last year. To be captain of a winning team in a Varsity Match is incredibly special, but to be captain of a winning team in the 30th anniversary year makes it that little bit more priceless,” added Marks.
“I am incredibly proud of every single one of my girls. They put their bodies on the line right through to the 80th minute.
“It was won from 1 to 23 because everyone earned their shirts. We pride ourselves on being a cohesive unit and that really showed today.”
Oxford captain Abby D’Cruz was proud of her side despite defeat to Cambridge in the 30th anniversary Women’s Varsity Match at Twickenham.
The Dark Blues couldn’t come out on top in the famous fixture, but they did score their first Varsity try in four years and their first at the home of English rugby.
Despite ending up on the losing side, D’Cruz produced an outstanding individual performance at inside centre.
“We gave everything for each other and that is the Oxford way. There wasn’t one minute where we didn’t go for the win,” she said.
“The first Oxford try at Twickenham finally came and hopefully there will be a lot more in the future. It was an extraordinary day for women’s rugby.
“There was a real sense of occasion today and we all felt the history of the past 30 years with the guard of honour made up of all the girls who had played before us.”
Lincoln College lock Katie Collis was the one to score Oxford’s landmark try in the final few minutes as the Dark Blues staged a late comeback.
In the end it wasn’t enough as Cambridge came out on top 8-5 with their points coming via an Emily Pratt try and a second-half penalty from lock Alice Elgar.
Oxford flanker Maria Bernier was also yellow carded before the break for a high tackle.
The 30th anniversary of the Women’s Varsity tie saw the two teams run out to a guard of honour formed by ex players to have played in the fixture.
It also included the captains of the two sides to play in the inaugural Women’s Varsity in 1988 – Heather Bunting (Oxford) and Sophia Mirchandani (Cambridge).
It was a special moment for D’Cruz, who added: “The only reason we got to wear the shirt today at Twickenham was because of the hard work they had all put in.
“We were all very cognisant of that and it meant a lot that they came.
“Credit to Cambridge. We threw a lot at them and they stood firm. We knew it would be a good contest and I couldn’t be prouder of my girls for the way they played.”
The dates for next year’s Varsity Matches has already been confirmed for Thursday 12 December 2019 at Twickenham Stadium. Ticket information will be released soon.