Ruck and Maul: Actions speak louder than words for Catling the lethal linguist

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The Independent Online

The players are out there but where are the talent scouts? Tim Catling's astonishing performance in the Varsity Match had most observers wondering where on earth he came from and why nobody had heard of him. Catling scored three tries inside the first 34 minutes of Oxford's 33-29 victory over Cambridge, an indelible memory of a marvellous match. A linguist who is in his fourth year of Oriental Studies, Catling played alongside Danny Cipriani at Whitgift School in Croydon. They would swap positions in the three-quarter line but the 21-year-olds have since gone their very separate ways. "We used to mix it up," Catling said. "Sometimes I'd play No 10 and Danny would play centre. I'm not in touch with him now. He's got a bit big." As a teenager, Catling was at the London Irish academy but they didn't offer him a contract. "I had to walk out of the door," he said. In nine games for Oxford this season he has scored 14 tries. His hat-trick at Twickenham was the first by an Oxford player in the Varsity Match for 88 years – Bernard Jacot, a law student who swam for Great Britain at the Olympics, did so in 1920. The deposed England coach Brian Ashton has been helping the Oxford three-quarters this season. It showed.

Helping hand for Pumas

England, responding to a request from Argentina for financial assistance, will play a Test next summer somewhere in this country but not at Twickenham. It should be played in the land of the hosts, in this case the Pumas, but by playing it here, as the "home" team they will receive the gate receipts and money from merchandising. In 1999, England should have played Wales in Cardiff but because the Millennium Stadium was being built the match was at Wembley. England lost 32-31 and two Welsh sopranos at a tube station drowned out "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" with "You Can Stick Your Fucking Chariot Up Your Arse".

To be specific on the Pacific

An e-mail and a geography lesson from Te Ngaehe Wanikau. Graham Henry, the coach of the All Blacks, doesn't like the fact that some of his players leave New Zealand for greener, richer pastures. Ruck and Maul pointed out to him that the Kiwis benefit from the assistance of players from the Pacific Islands. "Look here," says Mr Wanikau. "New Zealand is a multi-cultural country and the migration of Pacific Islanders began in 1100 AD. Our team reflects the make-up of our nation. The idea that scouts make trips to the islands to recruit players is false."

All Black prop Drake dies

New Zealanders think they have a divine right to win the World Cup and they can't understand why they haven't done so since the inaugural tournament, in their home country in 1987. The scrum-half David Kirk, who also played for Oxford University, became the first captain to lift the Webb Ellis Cup and yesterday he lost one of his match-winning colleagues, the prop John Drake. Drake collapsed and died at his home in Mount Maunganui at the age of 49.

t.glover@independent.co.uk

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