If you asked most retired sportsmen to pinpoint a moment in their career which stands out in their mind, you might expect to hear about their first international cap, a glorious cup win, or a flash of personal brilliance. But for Jeremy Snape, a man who has won no less than nine domestic trophies over a career spanning 16 years, it was one innocuous sweep shot back in 2002 that he looks back on as his defining moment.
It was Snape’s first overseas tour with England, and helped by a Marcus Trescothick century, the tourists were cruising to victory when Snape joined Andrew Flintoff at the crease. Coming back for a second run, Snape gave a late call of “no” to his partner, leaving England’s talisman short of his ground. Just a few balls later, his mind, scrambled, Snape tried to swipe at a full ball from Harbajan Singh and was out lbw.
“I failed in front of 120,000 people in India while batting for England. I chose that moment to play the highest risk shot ever and got out, it was only the pressure getting to me but at the time I didn’t know why I did it.
“Through this, and playing other professional and international cricket I found that the mindset was a key driver of success but there wasn’t such a strong coaching emphasis placed on it. I was keen to understand it and be able to simplify the theory to help people become more successful. This fueled my interest to go on and study for my MSc.”
By his own admission, Snape never had the most glittering career at international level and it seems that only since retirement has he truly flourished within the game.
In 2005, whilst still playing cricket for Leicestershire Foxes, he founded the consultancy Sporting Edge. Since then, Snape’s gaining prominence as a sports psychologist has been helped by well-placed connections. One wouldn’t necessarily expect local contacts to come to the former off-spinner’s aid with the advent of the Indian Premier League, but for the fact that the Chairman of the franchise the Rajasthan Royals, Manoj Badale, was a Leicester-based businessman. Having helped the unfancied Royals to the inaugural IPL title, Snape impressed the franchise’s other big-name import, Graeme Smith, enough to land his next big job as South Africa’s Mental Conditioning Coach.
Snape’s role from team to team has varied greatly, as has the character and personality of the players he has worked with. Switching from job to job requires little adjustment for a coach or a manager, but a psychologist needs to develop close personal bonds in order to fully understand the mindset of those who he is trying to help. So how has Snape coped with his ever-changing specifications?
“Every team you work with is different and you have to build trust with them rather than coming in with some pre-conceived ideas of what might work. The South African team was fantastic to work with because despite being one of the best sides around, they are very humble and always looking to learn. I was lucky that I could work closely with the players in the nets too, so I was working on the psychology in a very applied way.”
With the effects of an overly-congested international schedule beginning to take its toll, following several high-profile withdrawals from the international scene, the latest being Jonathan Trott from the most recent Ashes tour, the importance of the team psychologist in maintaining a calm and focused collective mindset has become increasingly important. Snape is aware more than most of the challenges facing the current generation of international cricketers.
“The modern era is overloaded with data and analysis, video replays and scrutiny in the moment of performance and then viral social media of blogs and opinions after it. Athletes need to feel that their coping skills are in line with they challenges they face. Taking ownership and breaking things down into chunks is they key.
“The PCA has some great support mechanisms in place for cricketers, I just think that given the congested fixture list, there is no down time anymore. We have to strike the balance between quality and volume.”
The rise of the sports psychologist has been a meteoric one. On Tuesday, Roy Hodgson announced that England will be working with psychiatrist Dr Steven Peters as they prepare for the World Cup in Brazil. But all of this has taken off from such unpromising beginnings.
“Twenty years ago there was little more than a few anecdotes and jokes about people’s mental failings in sport,” says Snape. “Many of the American sports have been pioneers in sports science and they have embraced psychology now as a part of the high-performance system, it’s on the rise in the UK and globally too.”
Snape has said in the past that whilst the 90s were the fitness revolution and the 00s were the sports science revolution, the next frontier will be the mental one. Perhaps now the sporting world is beginning to cotton on to the next revolution.
Oxford 36 – 16 RAF
OURFC recording a convincing victory over the RAF at Iffley Road this week. For some time the RAF looked set to capitalise on a sluggish Oxford, quickly picking up a penalty three points from Andy Byrne. However, Oxford counterattacked with an impressive run from Matt Janney (Oriel) followed by an offload to Jacob Taylor (Keble) to finish between the posts, and summarily converting his own try. The Airmen followed close on the heels of the score with a penalty of their own from Bryne, which was left unanswered until near on half-time when OURFC demonstrated some classic close play from the forwards, with St. Peter’s Zandy Macdonald taking the ball at 8 from a well driven scrum and scoring, with Taylor again in good form for the conversion.
At the outset of the second half, the RAF were struggling under the weight of two yellow cards, and Oxford began to press the advantage. Scoring opened with Henry Hughes (Magdalen) at outside centre finishing up a good run of offloads through a disorganised defense, Taylor converting. Shortly thereafter Janney went over again through an increasingly haggard back line, Taylor continuing to keep the points topped up. Fresher Chris Williams (University) scored again for OURFC, followed by Taylor’s first failure to convert of the evening. As the binned men returned, the Servicemen rallied, with hooker St Philpott going over for a driven try at close range which remained unconverted. Both sides took this time to make some reshuffles, with OURFC bringing on hooker Alex Koo (St John’s), flanker Anthony Kalindjian (St Peter’s), flanker Harry Beale (Magdalen), winger Sam Dumigan (Pembroke) and flanker Jack Calvert (St Edmund Hall). With play drawing to a close, Dumigan, who made all told an excellent debut, threw a looping pass to Pietie Olivier (Keble) to finish in the corner. However, it would be the visiting side who would have the last laugh, with winger Toby Mann rounding off a solid run of phases with a try out wide.
Perennial nearlyman. Solid backhander. Secondbest in Switzerland. Australian
Open champion. Stanislas Wawrinka’s stunning display this Sunday morning to wrestle
only the second Grand Slam title since 2005 out of the hands of tennis’ ’Big Four’ players
(Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and his opponent at Melbourne Park, Rafa
Nadal) will go down in history as one of the most composed performances ever,
cementing the 29yearold’s legacy as Grand Slam winner and victor over some of tennis’
best players of all time. His fourset victory over Nadal followed a stunning fiveset defeat
of threetime reigning champion Djokovic and a hardfought semifinal victory over Croat
Tomas Berdych, like Wawrinka a firsttime semifinalist in the tournament. In doing so,
Wawrinka became the first man in a generation to beat the top two seeds en route to a
Grand Slam victory.
It was gravely unfortunate that Wawrinka’s victory came at the expense of a
visibly struggling Nadal, who seemed troubled by a back injury from the second set
onwards. Sections of a disgruntled crowd couldn’t contain their irritation as Wawrinka too
struggled to keep focus in an extended injury break. His rhythm was completely offset in set three
as Nadal (perhaps buoyed by painkillers) pushed back to take set and really test the mettle of his
opponent. Despite nineteen unforced errors in the previous set, the Swiss managed to hold his
nerve and clinch the fourth set in an astonishing final.
Despite Nadal’s injury woes, there is no asterisk next to Wawrinka’s victory, and nobody
watching the game could claim that the world number eight (pretournament) deserved anything
but a win after his scintillating form in the first set. At times, Wawrinka looked unstoppable, and it
would not be in the least bit absurd to claim that he could have vanquished a fully fit and fighting
Nadal. In taking out Djokovic in the quarters, he proved his credentials, and the events of the final
proved that he is no onetrickpony. Today is about a longawaited Grand Slam victory for a new
force in tennis, and Nadal’s injury should remain a footnote to that. Wawrinka coped better than
most with the Spaniard’s fast forehand and took excellent advantage of the best weapon at his
disposal: a nearunparalleled backhand. He overcame his mental demons in a demonstration that
should be remembered as trumping Nadal’s own efforts and giving the new Swiss in town the
‘Happy Slam’ and a reason to be cheerful.
The introduction of Twenty20 leagues such as the Big Bash and the Indian Premier League
have given an incentive for the cricketing elite to concentrate on the shorter forms of the game.
Prospective test match players now often choose to line their pockets by playing in front of cricket
mad nations and boycott participation in the domestic County Championship.
Alex Hales, the world’s highest ranked Twenty20 batsman, has once again excused himself from
county action in order to further his IPL accomplishments, adding to a brand valued at $3bn in
In light of recent results, this is a cause for concern. Following a 5-0 whitewash in the Ashes series,
there was hope that some dignity could be salvaged in the shorter form of the game. However,
England have still not achieved a single victory down under and are experiencing their worst winter
under Flower’s management. The failing side continued to disappoint as they snatched defeat from
the jaws of victory last Friday at the Gabba.
Setting a total of 300, hope for a change in fortune was rekindled. A strong bowling performance
from the tourists saw Australia stalling at 244-9 with just 6 overs left. Yet an impressive 10th wicket
partnership launched by James Faulkner ended any chance of defeating the home side.
Faulkner, a member of the IPL’s Rajasthan Royals, smashed 25 runs off his last 7 balls, ending on
an unbeaten 69 and contributing to the highest successful run chase the ground has ever seen.
The IPL is now entering its 7th year and following a contract adjustment by the ECB; England team
members are permitted to participate in the competition from its start until 13 May. After this point
they are required to begin preparations for the summer series versus Sri Lanka. This period would
usually be used to train with county sides which retains a focus on the longer form of the game.
There have been signs that the IPL has taken a back seat in the eyes of certain England
professionals. Jos Butler and Ben Stokes have showed an intention to put their international
careers first by declining the offer of IPL stardom. This action has not been provoked by any public
message from coach Andy Flower and will hopefully encourage more to prioritise their international
reputation over cash.
As England strode out to polish off the final three Australian wickets at the SCG three years ago, the real monument to their success was nestled not in a small, wooden urn but spread around the stands of Australia’s greatest of all grounds. This was the final day of an Ashes series in Australia and the only Aussies in the ground were those beleaguered baggie greens who stood accused by The Sydney Herald as being their nation’s worst ever XI. The Barmy Army had driven their disciples from their own temple and a peculiar, carnival atmosphere pervaded a stadium that was no more than a quarter full.
The sad irony of what the travelling fans sang that day will not be lost on those who made the long journey down under this time around. To the tune of The Beach Boys’ ‘Sloop John B’, the Barmy Army deliriously crowed “The Ashes, we’re taking them home!” Three years on and there is no need to meddle with Brian Wilson’s words. This is the worst trip they’ve ever been on.
Now the Ashes have settled the post-mortem must begin. If the Barmy Army are to once again conquer the SCG in four years’ time then England must start planning now. In all likelihood, the team that will take the field against Sri Lanka in June will not be all that dissimilar to the one that has been sizzled in Sydney. The talk of a new era is a little premature. The core of this England side has a couple more years yet to give. But to avoid another Ashes embarrassment the selectors will have to make some tough decisions, phasing in a new generation of players over time rather than in one mad act of fury.
Back in 2003, when an Ashes drubbing over the festive season was as inevitable as the New Year itself, The Wisden Cricketer magazine picked a hypothetical XI to take England to Ashes glory in ’06/’07. They were right with just two of their selections and chose Jonathan Batty as their wicketkeeper, a man who never came close to international recognition. In reality this exercise is a frivolous one, but nonetheless plotting out the future England team is something the ECB hierarchy should already be doing.
Pitiful, pathetic, shambolic and any number of other synonyms have been used to describe England’s batsmen this winter. The transition process has already started with the induction of Root, Ballance and Stokes but KP will be 37 come 2017 and is England’s most injury-prone batsmen and therefore unlikely to last. Moeen Ali has long been touted for an England berth, but must prove himself in Division One before making the step up. Laurie Evans and James Vince have impressed in the middle order for their respective counties and are belligerent stroke-makers both. At the top of the order Sam Robson enjoyed a breakthrough season for Middlesex under the tutelage of Chris Rogers, whilst Alex Lees has joined the rest of the Yorkshire squad in being tipped for international honours by Geoffrey Boycott. England should stick with Stokes at 6 to give him a real chance of developing into a proper all-rounder, drop Root to 3 whilst Robson has the right blend of technique and temperament to succeed at the highest level. With dual Australian and British citizenship, England should nab him quick before the Aussies do.
[caption id="attachment_48951" align="aligncenter" width="705"] Laurie Evans, Warwickshire, 26 James Vince, Hampshire, 22 Moeen Ali, Worcestershire, 26 Sam Robson, Middlesex, 24
First-class matches: 28 First-class matches: 69 First-class matches: 107 First-class matches: 59
Runs: 1,702 Runs: 3,675 Runs: 6,388 Runs: 3,851
Average: 39.58 Average: 37.88 Average: 37.79 Average: 39.70[/caption]
A quick glance through the county sides reveals that Matt Prior has a pretty decent chance of regaining his spot for 2017. Brad Haddin’s remarkable series has shown that wicketkeepers can have late renaissances. Jonny Bairstow has enough flair to impress on the county scene but his technical flaws have been glaringly exposed all too frequently at Test level. Jos Buttler is an exciting talent and David Warner’s emergence as a Test batsman of real substance shows that T20 specialists can adapt their game to the longer format. Other options may be Ben Foakes of Essex and Cameron Herring of Gloucestershire, who are 20 and 18 years of age respectively and hold the benefit of being genuine wicketkeepers unlike Bairstow and Buttler. Both have shown potential but need more time to learn their trade in the county game. Four years is a long time for any of these players to prove their credentials, but for now Prior remains both the best keeper and the best batsmen of all of them. His experience may be invaluable amongst a potentially inexperienced team when England next go down under.
[caption id="attachment_48955" align="aligncenter" width="735"] Jonny Bairstow, Yorkshire, 24 Jos Buttler, Lancashire, 23 Ben Foakes, Essex, 20 Cameron Herring, Gloucestershire, 18
First-class matches: 82 First-class matches: 48 First-class matches: 20 First-class matches: 6
Batting Average: 42.50 Batting Average: 31.73 Batting Average: 32.95 Batting Average: 17.42
Catches: 176 Catches: 82 Catches: 15 Catches: 14[/caption]
For all the talk of England being blessed with strength in depth of fast-bowlers, the vast majority of them are of the tall, back-of-a-length variety. What England really need is an out and out swing bowler to replace the ailing Anderson. Steven Finn has been waiting in the wings for some time now and should be given the chance ahead of Rankin in the summer. Finn has more raw ability, whilst Rankin is already 29 and may have missed the boat. Jamie Overton is already proving a handful at Somerset but to play him alongside Finn and Broad would leave the attack looking rather too one-dimensional. Stuart Meaker, Chris Jordan and Tymal Mills are the quickest bowlers on the circuit and their collective inconsistency is something that can easily be improved on with experience. An outside bet could be Reece Topley, who at just 19 is the closest thing England has to a Test standard swing bowler. Another 6’7’’ giant, his left-arm action would add greater diversity to England’s attack.
[caption id="attachment_48960" align="aligncenter" width="724"] Chris Jordan, Sussex, 25 Reece Topley, Essex, 19 Tymal Mills, Essex, 21 Jamie Overton, Somerset, 19
First-class matches: 59 First-class matches: 25 First-class matches: 18 First-class matches: 16
Wickets: 161 Wickets: 93 Wickets: 32 Wickets: 41
Average: 32.26 Average: 27.04 Average: 35.71 Average: 35.46[/caption]
The harsh reality here is that England probably won’t have a world-class spinner ready for 2017. Panesar could be given another shot, but he continues to show a stubborn refusal to add greater variation to his bowling and simply lacks the nous that is so crucial for an international spinner. Elsewhere lies a mix of tweakers and bits and pieces players. Danny Briggs’ name has been mentioned but he doesn’t turn the ball enough to prize out Test batsmen and his game is probably limited to the shorter form. Simon Kerrigan’s aberration of a debut does not mean he can’t cut it and he has an excellent opportunity to prove himself in Division One over the summer. Scott Borthwick was primarily a batsman for Durham last season, taking his wickets at 38 apiece, but if England sees him as their future spinner he will surely be encouraged to work more on that side of his game. The Yorkshire duo of Azeem Rafiq and Adil Rashid have both been tipped for greatness in the past but have so far fallen short of expectations. Endorsing one or other of these as England’s long-term solution is the most speculative selection of all, but England should be prepared to take a gamble in this department. Picking someone who can keep things tight at one end or who can provide a few lower order runs will not help England become world-beaters again. Go with flair and guile; the control and consistency will come.
[caption id="attachment_48963" align="aligncenter" width="697"] Simon Kerrigan, Lancashire, 24 Scott Borthwick, Durham, 23 Adil Rashid, Yorkshire, 25 Azeem Rafiq, Yorkshire, 22
First-class matches: 52 First-class matches: 60 First-class matches: 114 First-class matches: 24
Wickets: 174 Wickets: 114 Wickets: 325 Wickets: 54
Average: 26.68 Average: 30.91 Average: 35.88 Average: 35.18[/caption]
Team in 2017:
- Alastair Cook, Essex, 33
- Sam Robson, Middlesex, 28
- Joe Root, Yorkshire, 27
- Ian Bell, Warwickshire, 35
- Gary Ballance, Yorkshire, 28
- Ben Stokes, Durham, 26
- Matt Prior, Sussex, 35
- Stuart Broad, Nottinghamshire, 31
- Azeem Rafiq, Yorkshire, 25
- Steven Finn, Middlesex, 28
- Reece Topley, Essex, 23
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Last year saw controversial Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan rebrand the 113 year-old club in a move that saw the Bluebirds’ much-loved home strip altered along with the club crest. A questionable decision indeed, but one that pales in comparison to the Malaysian’s decision last week to offer beloved manager Malky Mackay the choice to ‘resign or be fired’ in no uncertain terms. Though his bewildering ultimatum has subsequently been revoked, Tan’s actions epitomise a worrying trend in English football that begun over a decade ago with Roman Abramovich’s purchase of Chelsea FC – the reign of the unusual (and, more often than not, unpredictable) owner.
Tan’s aforementioned rebrand was part of a decision to ‘help the club develop its brand’, according to a club spokesman. This is a recent trend, one that emphasizes the move in club ownership from love of the game to love of the profits it invariably brings. In a similar move to Tan’s, Hull City owner Assem Allam announced this year that he plans to rechristen ‘his’ club as the Hull Tigers, a decision that has not been well-received by fans of the team. Allam responded to this dissatisfaction by claiming that those who sing ‘City till we die’ in opposition to his plans can ‘die as they want’, further demonstrating his stark alienation from the body of fans that keep the club alive.
These are not isolated cases. Ex-Fulham head honcho Mohamed Al-Fayed told fans they could ‘go to hell’ after they ridiculed his plans to construct a Michael Jackson statue outside Craven Cottage, and Chelsea fans have become all-too-familiar with the managerial merry-go-round in the wake of Abramovich’s gung-ho approach to ownership. Venky’s, the chicken magnates behind Blackburn Rovers, continue to invite ridicule for their decisions, including a grandiose move for legendary Brazilian Ronaldinho only months before they were relegated.
Dissatisfaction with owners is nothing new: football fans are a notoriously fickle folk, and yet this new wave of investors appear somewhat scarier than their predecessors, more damaging and more dangerous due (in part) to their seemingly bottomless pockets. When money becomes more important than honour and loyalty, decisions like Tan’s can be allowed to stand. These owners know very little of the beautiful game, and are yet encouraged to throw their hat into the ring by clubs desperate for a slice of profit pie. What’s more, the FA, founded on traditional English values of amateurism and a non-profit approach to sport, actively encourage these investors to purchase clubs as a business venture.
The newest hobby of the super-rich, football-club ownership has become little more than a conversation piece for some. The investors who truly love the clubs they support (in the most literal sense of the word) are in danger of being drowned out by those with more money and less sense, at least as far as football is concerned. Football fans the world over will recognise the vitriol directed at the Glazer family following their debt-ridden takeover of Manchester United a decade ago and the more recent fan opposition to Fenway Sports Group’s ownership of Liverpool FC. The threat of the unusual owner should not be ignored as football looks to enter a new age and finances skyrocket to astronomical levels.
A resilient Oxford side secured a commanding victory over Cambridge at Twickenham yesterday, despite playing with only 14 men for nearly half an hour. Samson Egerton became the first player ever to be sent off in a Varsity Match when he was involved in an off the ball incident around the 55 minute mark, but the impressive dominance of the Oxford pack kept Cambridge at bay. Oxford Captain John Carter, who announced his retirement for the third time immediately after the game, described the performance as “among the best [he had] seen by an Oxford side” as the Dark Blues secured their fourth consecutive varsity triumph.
It was Cambridge who started the stronger however, opening the scoring within ten minutes when fast hands from Toby May put Nick Jones over in the corner. In a frenetic opening period, the Light Blues then lost impressive number 8 Sam Farmer to injury, before Oxford hit back with a try on their own when a powerful surge at the scrum allowed captain John Carter to rumble over from a yard out.
A spirited Cambridge side hit back soon after, making repeated forays deep into the Oxford half, and they were rewarded when Don Stevens added three points from the ten-meter line. Oxford’s sheer physicality began to tell however, as the fly half struggled off soon after with a shoulder injury. The Dark Blues then drew level thanks to a brilliant piece of skill by Henry Lamont, who beat 3 defenders inside the 22 to scramble over. Oxford’s dominance at the scrum was a pivotal feature of the game throughout, and the Dark Blues dismantled the Cambridge scrum again just before half time, to lead 13-10 at the break.
Oxford pulled further ahead shortly after half time, when soft hands from Will Rowlands gave Samson Egerton the space to canter over under the posts. The game was then marred by its incident of controversy when the Television Match Official deemed the Oxford scrum half to have been guilty of illegal contact with the face, worthy of a red card. Oxford however, seemed rallied by the decision, closing Cambridge down with ruthless efficiency. The experience of the Oxford side, which fielded 13 players with previous Varsity experience, was telling, and the Dark Blues retained the ball for an impressive 14 phases with Lamont at scrumhalf before Nick Gardner crashed over from close range.
As the game wore on, Cambridge’s man advantage began to tell, and Toby May took full advantage of a colossal overlap to dab down with fifteen minutes remaining, Oxford defended resolutely however, and added to further penalties to finish the 132nd Varsity Match by 33 points to 15.
More photos and reaction to follow. See minute-by-minute coverage of the game by the Oxford Student here: http://oxfordstudent.com/2013/12/12/the-varsity-match-2013-live/
16:00 So tnats it folks! A truly enthralling game, but ultimately Oxford had far too much for Cambridge, who must be wondering how they failed to capitalise on an Oxford side which played with 14 men for over half an hour. Even with only 14, the pace and sheer physicality of the Dark Blues seemed far to much for Cambridge, whose scrum was shaky without. Sam Egerton’s red card will undoubtedly be a talking point, as he goes from Hignall Medal WInner to the first red carded player, hpwever npthing should be taken away from this Oxford side, who thoroughly deserved their win. Its been a pleasure, over and out!
15:52: FT OXFORD 33-15 CAMBRIDGE
15.51: On script, John Carter wins the Hignall medal. Off script a nice scuffle breaks out as Cambridge try and salvage some pride.
15.50: PENALTY OXFORD - Oxford have been smart since the red card, and they are at their smartest now, keeping Cambridge pinned back in that 22 and winning the penalty. Hudson takes an age again but he makes no mistake, and Cambridge heads are well and truly down now. OXFORD 33-15 CAMBRIDGE
15.44: Oxford really making sure the scrum is from the exact mark, wasting precious seconds in the process. They needn’t really though, because they dismantle the Cambridge scrum again. It really has been lacklustre today
15:43: 8 minutes to go, and the Blues are still looking resolute in defence. Still time, though…
15.40: PENALTY TO OXFORD: Its that scrum again, and Jon Hudson adds makes no mistake taking his sweet time in the process! OXFORD 30-15 CAMBRIDGE
15.38: Not much objectivity in the press box now with the Oxstu, Tab and Oxford Mail all in the same row…
15.36 Almost inevitably, Cambridge have got over the line, as Toby May uses his quick feet and a colossal overlap to stroll over. Courtenay Morrison MISSES the conversion. OXFORD 27 -15 CAMBRIDGE
15.31: Here come Cambridge, hitting back with a frenetic foray into the Oxford 22 and held up oiver the line. Cries of “Oxford, Oxford” ring from the South stand though. And from those pesky kids
15.29: TRY OXFORD. Incredible bravery and spirit from the blues, and even more composure, as they retain the ball for over 14 phases befpre Nick Gardner crashes over from close range. Hudson converts and incredibly its OXFORD 27-10 CAMBRIDGE.
15.25: They nearly take a huge step closer when Cambridge spill the ball in midfield, but Cambridge have clawed it back and have a lineput on their own 22
15.23: Its going to take a huge effort from Oxford to hold on now.
15.17: RED CARD TO OXFORD – SAMSON EGERTON. Couldn’t have been more wrong, its appears to be for gouging. The first ever red card in the history of the match.
15.16: Todays attendance is 24,463 according to a note being passed around the press box! Meanwhile Cambridge are battling to regain a foothold in the game. The TMO is checking for some sort of foul play offence…looks like Scott Annett cleared out Egerton Illegally
15.09: Once again apologies for the slow updates, please direct your complaints about this website in writing to the paper’s editor at ‘Mr Miles DIlworth, Keble College, Oxford. OX1 3PG”
15.07: TRY OXFORD Delilah’s trim clearly didn’t affect that man Samson Egerton, who strolls over after sublime hands from Will Rowlands. OXFORD 20-10 CAMBRIDGE, the Tabs need a big response here.
15.04: Dangerous Dave has texted in with a few of her gripes, apperently “the beer queues are too long, the christmas music is awful, and I cant tell from the programme which players are single!”
15.02: Two changes for Cambridge and one for Oxford but I can’t be arsed to update you, we’re underway again!
14.55: So a strong start from Cambridge, but its Oxford who are really in the ascendancy at the break as they search for a fourth straight Varsity win. A couple of you got in touch! ‘Connolong’ says “Samson Egerton’s running is nearly as exciting as Keble’s architecture” and Mark has tweeted to say “If it stays this way, I hope Cookie has brought his sloe gin?!” Very mysterious Mark, tell us why?
14.53 Oxford have a little mix up in the back three but it doesn’t matter as Cambridge are steamrolled again at the scrum. HT OXFORD 13 -10 CAMBRIDGE
14.50: It doesn’t matter though, because Oxford decimate Cambridge again at scrum time. Hudson can’t miss that one. OXFORD 13-10 CAMBRIDGE
14.48: We’re back in play, and Oxford surge forward again but Gus Jone’s pass doesn’t quite go to hand. Another replacement for Cambridge, as Max Mather goes off.
14.44: Anyone following from an interesting location today? Anyone following at all? Tweet me @Oxstusport! Please.
14.42: Oxford finding holes everywhere now, as Sam Egerton breaks away into the 22, but Oxford squander possession and Cambridge clear. Lengthy break in play now, as the the stretcher comes on for Oxford’s James Harris. Really sad to see
14.34: TRY OXFORD: AND ITS A BANGER! Incredible feet from Henry Lamont turns an innocuous piece of possession on the 22 into a memorable try as the New College flyer wriggles and worms his way over the line from 15 metres out.OXFORD 10-10 CAMBRIDGE
14.30: And he’s off, replaced by Andy Abraham.
14.28: Huge hit from Will Rowlands in midfield. Middle class crowd baying for blood…Dpn Stevens isn’t looking well down there.
14.25: PENALTY CAMBRIDGE – Don Stevens spends a long time peacocking in his obscene boots after Oxford are penalised for not realising, but he slots it! OXFORD 5-10 CAMBRIDGE
14.22: Can John Carter find another degree to do next year? Tweet us your suggestions @oxstusport
14.20: Thanks Oxstu Website. Im now behind the Tab. TRY OXFORD – Jesus incarnate John Carter rumbles over from a powerful Oxford Scrum but Jon Hudson hits the post OXFORD 5-7 CAMBRIDGE
14.16: Big blow for Cambridge early on as Sam Farmer leaves the field. He was dubbed the press box ‘One to Watch’ over Cottage Pie earlier
14:14: A huge group of school children are chanting in the North Stand. Irritating. Oxford rumbling forward.
14:12 TRY CAMBRIDGE and it wasn’t difficult, if truth be told! Fast hands across the back-line and a great offload from Toby May puts Nick Jones over in the corner. Don Stevens adds the extras…just. OXFORD 0-7 CAMBRIDGE
14:07 Clever little box kick from Harry Peck there, whose dad skippered Cambridge back in ’79 (TRIVIA) gives Cambridge a scrum deep in the Oxford 22.
14.02: Fast start from Oxford who power into the Cambridge start from the restart, lose possession and then decimate the Cambridge scrum. A strong early statement of intent. Jon Hudson misses however…
14.01: WERE OFF! Don Stevens gets us underway
14.00: The Oxstu’s awful website doesn’t want the Oxford lineup published, but we have honoured the great Nelson Mandela, and have heard the national anthem
13.54: Team news now, CAMBRIDGE: Toby May; Nick Jones; Courtenay Morrison; Kristian Cook; Andy Murdoch; Don Stevens; Harry Peck; Will Briggs (C); Tom Pascoe; Frank Sanders; Jack Baker; Scott Annett; Max Mather; Andrew Smith; Sam Farmer.
13.50: Sorry folks lost connection there! Another stat for you: Oxford’s side boasts 13 players of Varsity experience, with only Jacob Taylor and Ian Williams from the starting side new to the fixture. Conversely Cambridge will start with 10 non-blues and have a new head coach in Andy Key, a former Leeds and Leicester Academy coach.
13.45: A few stats to whet your appetite: This is the 132nd Varsity Match, Cambridge hold a strong lead overall with 61 wins to 56, but Oxford hold more recent bragging rights having one the last three encounters. Both sides have one 5 of their regular fixtures this term, with Cambridge unbeaten in their last 4.
13.38: If you were hoping to catch live updates of the U21s game, please direct your vitriolic complaints to the folks over at National Rail, apparently they’ve been having signaling problems. Bastards. I can tell you however that Cambridge were victorious, by 30 points to 19.
13.36: Good Afternoon Rugby Fans! Welcome to the OxStu’s budget coverage of the 2013 Nomura Varsity Match. It’s a cold but sunny day ‘ere in Twickenham and I’ve smashed the free buffet the press box. We’re not the BBC, although we’d love to be…so you’ll have to refresh this page manually. Tweet me @oxstusport or @mattgompels with your thoughts, as I’m likely to run out of those within ten minutes.