If one time-honoured tradition bit the December mud this week - the Rugby Football Union's insistence on neutral touch judges meant there was no room for last season's captains in their badged and blazered finery - many other Varsity shibboleths appeared in the rudest of health. The car parks were smothered in smoked salmon and awash with half-decent claret, the enthusiasm in the stands was warm and infectious in a sozzled sort of way and the rugby itself was fierce, frantic and flawed.
Some of the, how shall we say, colonial contingent did not play the old game in quite the proper manner; Paul Surridge and Andrew Craig, two outstanding Light Blues from All Black country, were clearly of the opinion that the taking part mattered rather less than the winning and there was even an ungentlemanly front-row bust-up between an American and a New Zealander in the closing minutes. Brian Campsall, the referee, was forced to take the combatants aside for a quiet lecture, no doubt along the lines of: "I say you chaps, cut it out or else."
It may be that the the Cambridge-supporting streaker who brought the second half to an amused standstill was making some sort of symbolic point about a grand occasion being stripped bare of its long-established custom and practice. Or maybe she was fortified by the wine consumed before kick- off. Whatever, she deserved her standing ovation. Everyone gets an ovation in the Varsity Match.
-Chris HewettReuse content