Sunday, 12 December 2010

Light Blues Blow It

Hopperational details
Thursday 9 December 2010 at Twickenham, Oxford University 21pts Cambridge University 10pts in the 129th Varsity Match.
This match in one sentence
Technical note - looks like Oxford have an overlap here

The first points of the game - a penalty to Oxford
Oxford piled up some early points and Cambridge made too many unforced errors as they tried to fight back, so the result was never really in doubt in a disappointing game.
So what?
Oxford narrow the historical gap and only trail by 7 (54-61 with 14 draws) in the long history of this fixture.
Who caught the eye on the pitch?

The Cambridge scrum was dominant enough to get a second-half penalty try after a series of confrontations near the Oxford line.  However, two forward passes in the backs wasted two golden opportunities and there were several other unforced drops and knock-ons.  Oxford took their chances and deserved the win.
This match had the same effect on my pulse rate as …

… the gradual reddening of fluffy white clouds as the sun heads off into the sunset (as it always does).

A snippet from the programme
“The School of Hard Knocks is a rugby development programme using rugby as a tool to develop life skills, as well as introducing young people to a new sport and encouraging physical exercise.  This school term alone, over 300 children have been involved in the programme … participants are given a year’s membership of their local club to enable them to continue their skills after the formal end of the programme.”  England’s Andy Gomersall presented the prizes for the schools taking part on the day.
What I learned today
Fuller’s ESB has a nutty 5.5% alcohol content.  The name probably means Extra Special Bitter and not Enterprise Service Bus or Empire Strikes Back.  The 2pm kick-off time for this fixture means that this is the one day of the year when I commune with an ante meridiem pint.
Modus Hopper Random Talking Point
The attendance for this fixture has been slowly declining over the years, and this time only the lower tier of Twickenham was open for around 24,000 of us.  At one time, other than the internationals, this was one of the very few rugby union games that could be viewed live on TV.  It is now, perhaps like the Boat Race, struggling somewhat to keep its relevance for the wider audience. Twickenham is a fine stadium and much improved since the 80s when the simple act of recycling the aforesaid Fuller’s ESB (or similar) needed the athleticism and courage of a front-row forward.
What Next?
The original plan was a Friday night hop to Wellingborough Town but this was scuppered by a cancelled train from King’s Cross followed by a long delay on the M1 Northbound.  However, Saturday’s Hopperation was a success and details follow shortly!

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