Sports letter: Varsity teams not in right spirit

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The Independent Online
Sir: Is it not high time that the annual Cambridge v Oxford rugby union match became more, instead of less, true to the spirit of student rugby? At the risk of being proved wrong by your correspondent Alan Watkins, a contemporary of mine at Cambridge in the 1950s, I seem to recall that the teams then were drawn mainly from young undergraduates, with only the occasional graduate "star" who had previously played at a higher level. The reverse seems to be the case today when, when quite a number of the players are in their mid-twenties, hail frequently from Commonwealth countries, have often already made their mark in club, national or even international rugby and may only be at university for a short time to enable them to study for various post-graduate qualifications.

It must be frustrating for those who have shown a great deal of talent at school or college level to realise that their chances of gaining a Blue at this sport are almost as unlikely as a fall of snow in the Sahara.

Would it not be better for the respective sides to be picked solely from undergraduates between the ages of, say, 18 and 22? The spectacle for the paying public might not be quite so attractive (though that is debatable) but at least the resultant match would give the appearance of being a more genuine contest between representatives of these two ancient universities.

Incidentally, the same remarks could probably be made with regard to the Boat Race.

ANDREW J WOFFENDEN

Marple,

Stockport, Cheshire

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