Spencer cracks both codes

David Llewellyn talks to the rugby league Blue with unique qualificatio ns

Adrian Spencer is a man with the Blues. Three of them, to be precise. One each for representing Cambridge University at rugby league and union, the third for a year-long ban from the 15-a-side game after turning out as an amateur for a professional league side, London Crusaders, in 1993.

When a delighted Spencer trotted out on to the Twickenham turf last December in the Varsity match, he was, according to International Board regulations, no longer an amateur. The 26 or so minutes he played at centre for the victorious Light Blues were enough to win him his colours, but he was promptly banned for a year by the RFU, who were acting in accordance with IB statutory procedures.

Spencer, who first played union at Cambridge, is reluctant to speak out about his punishment, but he does admit: "I've really enjoyed playing rugby union at college and that is why I have found it a real shame that I have been banned." He says he is still trying to get reinstated. The IB meets this week in Bristol and he hopes something will come of it.

If Spencer does have to serve the full ban, it will end on 6 December this year, just six days before the 1995 Varsity match, but he quickly dismisses any thoughts that he might be able to turn out at Twickenham. "It would be ridiculous. They train for it all the way through from September and, obviously, I am not going to play a single game. So there would be no chance."

Right now Spencer has something else on his mind, the other Varsity match, featuring the 13-a-side code, which takes place at London Welsh today. Ordinarily taking on the Dark Blues of Oxford in this sport earns a half Blue, but Spencer explained: "The Blues Committee laid down two criteria for the award of a full Blue: Firstly, two years' commitment to the club; secondly, to have represented England Students or a similar standard." The 22-year-old chemical engineering student fulfiled those criteria last year and thus is unique in being a full Blue in both codes.

Spencer is steeped in league tradition. His father and grandfather both played as amateurs and since he comes from Warrington, there was little choice anyway. "I was born and bred in [the game]," he said, "and I will always prefer league to union."

It is no surprise to learn that the St John's College undergraduate is responsible for coaching the Light Blues squad. "Last year we had a lot of lads from the North, who had played league before, and we managed to keep the same team together for the whole season. This year there is only me and Dave Green from Featherstone with league experience, so we have just had to try to convert some very good union players.

"They have done as well they could have in the time they have had. I think the union boys find the fitness levels are extreme. They don't actually realise how fit you have to be."

Spencer's academic ambitions appear to rule out any hopes he may have harboured of turning pro. He wants to study for a Masters degree after graduating this year. "I will be 24 by then and that is probably too old. The league clubs are targeting and signing up 17 and 18-year-olds. But if I did move back up North I would definitely opt for a league club."

If he did return to his roots, and remained an amateur, he would be eligible to play for the BARLA Open Age side. They are currently on tour in the South Pacific. Not a bad way to shake off the Blues.

News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links