Monday, December 14, 2009
Former Wallaby lock Dan Vickerman led Cambridge to a 31-27 victory over Oxford in the annual Varsity Match at Twickenham on Thursday. It was the 128th meeting between the two prestigious University sides, a tradition that dates back to 1872.
Some famous players have turned out for the two sides over the years. Most notably David Kirk, former All Blacks captain; Nick Mallet, former Springbok player and coach, now with Italy; former England flyhalf Rob Andrew; Wallaby wing Joe Roff, who captained Oxford in 2007, and more recently, Simon Danielli of Scotland.
Last year former All Black hooker Anton Oliver played an instrumental part in Oxfords win over Cambridge, and this year other internationals on display were Canadian flanker Stan McKeen and former USA scrumhalf Doug Rowe.
On the coaching staff, Oxford had Brian Ashton in charge, while Cambridge had the services of Shaun Edwards to help out with their defence.
Dan Vickerman, who is doing a three-year Land Economy course, took part in last years loss for Cambridge so he was hoping to avenge it this time around. His team did just that, meaning that they have now won the traditional battle 61 times and Oxford 53, with 14 draws.
''In my career, I've had the opportunity to learn from some seriously good players - George Gregan, Phil Waugh, Steve Larkham,'' Vickerman said. ''Hopefully you can pass on a bit of that knowledge to some of the younger guys.''
Despite having ambitions to play in next years 129th match, players can only captain their side once, making the win for Vickerman that much sweeter.
''That's the unique thing about it, you get one opportunity to captain the side and you don't want to go out losing that one, so I'm just pretty happy we could put the best performance on and so down the track, when I'm old and grumpy, we had a win,'' he said.
''These sort of games epitomise why we play rugby, for the enjoyment. It's an amateur game and everybody out there is putting their body on the line and enjoying what they're doing and I couldn't ask for any more.
''Rugby is about winning, no matter what level you play at, and for me, winning out there was pretty special,'' Vickerman said.