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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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 campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable