Ruck and Maul: Varsity teams want to fly the flag for last year's men

The 129th Varsity Match at Twickenham next Thursday will be the 14th since the RFU ended the ancient practice of the previous year's captains running touch, or acting as assistant referees as it would be called today. The two sides would like the tradition restored but it will not happen this year. Ian Minto, the general manager of Cambridge University RUFC, told
Ruck and Maul: "There's been a lot of talk about the match as one of the last great amateur bastions, people were looking back fondly and we mentioned it in a meeting with Oxford a few weeks ago. We're both in favour, we are just not sure where to take it." So when Andrew Small becomes the first New Zealander to referee the match in its 138-year history (albeit as an employee of Twickenham in his fourth season as a professional whistler in England) he will have RFU colleagues as his assistants with the flags. But there's a nice touch on the touchline, as they will be father and son Andrew and Luke Pearce.

Johnno's textbook psychology

The England manager, Martin Johnson, is routinely portrayed as a grumpy ogre but he has never underestimated the value of team-bonding. He mentioned after the recent defeat of Australia that he had urged the players to send a text to non-playing squad-mates in their positions. "It was just a recognition from the squad that those guys who come in and train with us on Monday and Tuesday are all part of the success. It's an understanding that when we get to a Six Nations and certainly when we get to a World Cup, it's a 30-man effort, that everyone's got to play their part. If you're the unlucky one who doesn't get to put your kit on, you've still got a big role to play in getting that team ready to go. Even in that last week [of the autumn] when the extra guys knew there wasn't a game the following week they all trained really well and gave the team the work-out they needed."

Message the egos

More than a dozen players were in and out of the England squad during the autumn without playing, most as injury cover, including Tom Wood. The uncapped but in-form Northampton back-rower had three trips down the M1 for early-week sessions. "It's good that you get to know the coaches, the players and the systems," he told Ruck and Maul, "and you get to know roughly where you stand in the pecking order." And where is that? "It's fairly obvious that if you're down there you must be fairly close. I'm playing as a No 7 for Northampton but most of my rugby for [his previous club] Worcester and the Saxons has been at six. And I'm doing line-out work for Northampton so I'm not an out-and-out seven for them." Wood applauded the idea of the texts as "a good thing, to build camaraderie." Only one problem. "I haven't got a phone, I lost it a few weeks ago."

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Arts and Entertainment
John Hurt will voice Prince Bolkonsky in Radio 4's War and Peace
radioRadio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game