Rugby Union: Canadian seasoning for traditional fare

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The Independent Online
BAD NEWS for the University match: next year the attendance will plummet to 60,000 while the Rugby Football Union is engaged in the rebuilding of Twickenham's West Stand. Only 60,000? Twenty years ago it was half that number, writes Steve Bale.

In the meantime there will be at least 65,000 - the capacity is temporarily 68,000 - at next Tuesday's 112th Oxbridge meeting, a record for a club match outside Japan. It is one of the wonders of modern sport that so many wish to be present on an occasion that pales by comparison with, say, the All Blacks.

'I know I'll sound like an old fogey but the only explanation is that it's one of those traditions people like to sustain,' Tony Rodgers, Cambridge University's coach for 13 years, said after the teams had been named yesterday.

Today the RFU will announce details of its new project and in two years, when the West Stand is completed, there could be as many as 76,000 to see the Bowring Bowl, retained last year by the Light Blues, contested for the 20th time. In a cynical age when no one much has been paying any attention to Oxford or Cambridge while New Zealand have been among us, these figures are a tribute to the public's attachment to sporting Corinthianism.

Next Tuesday the 65,000, made up of 63,000 tickets already sold by yesterday and 2,000 box-holders, will see a cosmopolitan Oxford side made up of three South Africans, a New Zealander, three Canadians, two Welshmen, a Scot and even four Englishmen led by the exotic South African, Chad Lion-Cachet.

Oxford have five Blues to Cambridge's three, and in accordance with recent habit the Light Blues are more home-grown, only a Canadian, three Welshmen and a Scot interspersed among the English. The spice, or at least a dose of maple syrup, comes from Canada: Chris Tynan and Gareth Rees combined as Canucks when Wales were laid low three weeks ago; now they are in opposition as Cambridge scrum-half and Oxford outside-half respectively.

OXFORD UNIVERSITY: * M Joy (Marling Stroud & Keble); R Wintle (Cynffig CS Bridgend, St Mary's Hosp & University), L Boyle (Binswood Coll Leamington Spa, De Montford Univ & Keble), E Rayner (Dauntsey's & Oriel), T Watson (Radley & St Edmund Hall); G Rees (St Michael's Univ School Victoria, Harrow, Victoria Univ & Keble), * S du Toit (Paul Roos Gymnasium, Stellenbosch Univ & Christ Church); B Fennell (St Edward's Oxford, Durham Univ & Keble), D Henderson (Glenalmond, St Andrew's Univ & Keble), C Clark (Marlborough, Swansea Univ & Keble), * J Daniell (Wanganui Collegiate, Eton & St Catherine's), * D Evans (Bro Myrddin CS Carmarthen & St Anne's), * C Lion-Cachet (Pretoria Boys' HS, Cape Town Univ & Keble, capt), A Aitken (Durban Boys' HS, Cape Town Univ & Keble), N Martin (King Edward's Birmingham, Birmingham Univ & Keble).

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY: A Dalwood (St Albans School, Bristol Univ & St Edmund's); A Arentsen (Cardiff HS & Corpus Christi), * P Flood (Stonyhurst Coll, Swansea Univ & St Edmund's), A Palfrey (St Cyres CS Penarth, West London Inst & Hughes Hall), A Boyd (St Olave's GS & Jesus); A Kennedy (Fettes Coll & St John's), C Tynan (Magee HS, British Columbia & Hughes Hall); T Hughes (Harrow & Trinity), * A Read (Royal GS High Wycombe, Loughborough Univ & Hughes Hall), * P Callow (Oakham & Fitzwilliam, capt), R Bramley (Queen Elizabeth GS Wakefield, Nottingham Univ & St Edmund's), S Roy (David Hughes School Menai Bridge, Bristol Univ & Hughes Hall), P Irons (Wellington Coll, Loughborough Univ & Hughes Hall), A Meadows (Sedburgh, Newcastle Univ & St Edmund's), N Richardson (King's Worcester, Loughborough Univ & St Edmund's).* denotes Blue

(Photograph omitted)