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Cambridge makes history with Varsity women's Twickenham debut

Cambridge Women’s Varsity team

Tomorrow will see history made on Twickenham Stadium’s hallowed turf as it hosts the Women’s Varsity Match for the first time.

The match, which has alternated between Oxford University's Iffley Road and Cambridge's Grange Road stadiums for the past 27 years, will kick off at Twickenham at 11:30am.

Captain Nikki Weckman said: “The switch to Twickenham Stadium is immensely important because it really puts women’s rugby on a much bigger, much more visible platform for people who are interested in the sport, or who want to try out women’s rugby.

“Speaking to students, male and female, it’s generating quite a buzz that we’re going to Twickenham this year. So I’m hoping it will encourage more people to try out the sport and see how much fun it can be. “

She paid tribute to previous team captains who had pushed for the move. “The captains and presidents of the past several years have really been the driving force behind the move to Twickenham, but it wouldn’t have happened without the support of the club and our sponsors.”

Cambridge's women will be looking to build on the 47-0 victory over Dark Blues at Grange Road earlier this year in the 28th meeting of the two teams. The Cambridge side also boasts President of the first Women's Boat Race crew to race on the Tideway last year, Caroline Reid, as a winger. 

But Weckman remains cautious, particularly as Oxford’s new coach Gary Street led England Women to their first rugby World Cup title last year. “We came out very well in the last match but it is a new year, a new team and Oxford have a wonderful coach this year who I know will be driving them hard so the last thing I want to do is underestimate them,” Weckman said.

“But I have full confidence in our team because of the effort that they’ve been putting in. Our last match we won 117-nil, which was a nice confidence boost.

“But the Varsity Match is the biggest match. Academically Oxford and Cambridge have always challenged each other and it’s the same in sports. That’s the big challenge – to prove yourself better than The Other Place.”


The men’s ‘Battle of the Blues’ tomorrow (kick-off 2:30pm) will see Wales and British and Irish Lions centre Jamie Roberts become the first current international to play in the Varsity Match since Dan Vickerman in 2009.

Roberts, who is studying for an MPhil in Medical Science (Surgery), will be joined by first-time Blues Simon Davies, Oliver Clough, Dave Spelman, Ian Nagle and James Kilroe as Cambridge bids to deny Oxford a record sixth successive win.

Vice-Chancellor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz will be among the crowd at Twickenham cheering on the Blues.

The Women’s Varsity Match kicks off at 11:30am. The Varsity Match (men’s) kicks off at 2:30pm. Live coverage of the Women’s Match will be streamed on www.bbc.co.uk/sport. The Varsity Match (men’s) will be screened live on BBC2 from 2pm-4.30pm. For further details, see www.thevarsitymatch.com.

  • Update: Cambridge won the Women's Varsity Match 52-0 with tries by Alice Middleton, Anna Wilson, Lara Gibson and Chloe Withers. Oxford won the Varsity Match (men's) 12-6. Cambridge Women’s Varsity captain Nikki Weckman said after the match: "We were expecting Oxford to put up a pretty big fight and they did. What we weren’t expecting was to put so many points on the board! All the hard work everyone put in, in every training session – they really pulled it out today.”

Twickenham hosts Women’s Varsity rugby for the first time tomorrow.

It’s generating quite a buzz that we’re going to Twickenham... I’m hoping it will encourage more people to try out the sport and see how much fun it can be.
Women's Varsity Captain Nikki Weckman
Cambridge Women’s Varsity team celebrate their win over Oxford in March 2015
Fact file
  • This is the 29th Women’s Varsity Match and the 134th men’s Varsity Match 
  • Cambridge has won 2 out of the past 5 Women’s Varsity Matches.
  • Oxford has won the past five Varsity Matches (men’s) but Cambridge has recorded five wins in a row on three separate occasions, 1972-76, 1980-84 and 1994-98.
  • No side has ever won six Varsity Matches in a row.
  • The women’s and men’s university clubs merged to form one club under Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club in 2013.
  • The Women’s Varsity Match team 2015: Ciara Scott (Pembroke), Jessica Charlton (Newnham), Tamsin Banner (Girton), Laura Nunez-Mulder (Emmanuel), Nikki Weckman (Trinity), Alice Elgar (Girton), Chloe Withers (Fitzwilliam), Hannah Cooper (Fitzwilliam), Lydia Thorn (Corpus Christi), Clare Donaldson (Clare), Caroline Reid (Jesus), Anna Wilson (Jesus), Emily McNally (St Edmund’s), Lara Gibson (Lucy Cavendish), Alice Middleton (Lucy Cavendish), Ayala Donegan (Girton), Lucy Sutcliffe (Murray Edwards), Charlotte Edgerley (Homerton), Laura Bateman (Churchill), Bethany Randall (Sidney Sussex), Livvy Probert (Downing), Heather Britton (Jesus), Sophie Farrant (Emmanuel)
  • The Men’s Varsity team 2015: Simon Davies (Jesus College); Ilia Cherezov (St John's), Oliver Clough (St Edmund's), Jamie Roberts (Queens'), Andy Rees (St Catharine's); Fraser Gillies (Hughes Hall), Don Stevens (St Edmund's); Will Briggs (Magdalene), Max Montgomery (Emmanuel), Dave Spelman (Jesus), Rob Hall (Downing), Ian Nagle (Hughes Hall), James Kilroe (Robinson), Daniel Dass (St Catharine's), Sam Farmer (Wolfson).

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