Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us
RUGBY UNION: Dark Blues seek large crowds for double test
THE pressure goes up a few notches for Oxford University as they play two home games in five days.
And head coach James Wade is urging fans to turn out in force for the evening clashes against Trinity College, Dublin (tomorrow) and Newport Gwent Dragons (Tuesday).
The Dark Blues have suffered early-season defeats to Biarritz Espoirs (25-21), Bayonne Espoirs (21-12) and Richmond (19-10), while a strong Greyhounds side hammered Oxford Brookes 53-3.
“This week is a different sort of challenge,” said Wade, who is also high performance manager at Premiership club Wasps.
“We have a huge game against Trinity College and then five days later we have got the Dragons.
“If you are a Welsh team and you are coming over to England, you are not going to want to get beaten.
“That sort of competition is what we want, so that people will want to watch us at Iffley Road.
“These are good games and hopefully we can get a good crowd down for them.”
Wade added: “We want to win both games, but our focus is on performances.
“I think we have got a lot of strength in depth this year and we will field strong teams for both matches.
“At this stage of the season, the team is still finding its feet.
“We are still looking at all the players and trying to give everyone a fair crack.
“It is a work in progress.”
Flanker James Harris will captain the side tomorrow night as regular skipper John Carter is ill.
Harris is joined by seven other Blues in the starting XV – wings Henry Lamont and Oscar Vallance, centres Matt Janney and Gavin Turner, plus prop Lewis Anderson, lock Will Rowlands and flanker Gus Jones.
A further three Blues are on the bench in hooker Nick Gardner, back-row forward Mike Rickner and full back Jon Hudson.
With the Varsity Match against Cambridge just nine weeks away, Wade said momentum is building.
“The tour to France was really successful in terms of combining rugby with cultural and team bonding experience,” said Wade.
“Since we have been back we have had some great training with Kearan Myall, from Wasps, helping with the forwards and Charlie Hodgson, from Saracens, working with the backs.”
Wasps and England wing Tom Varndell has also had some input.
Oxford will target a fourth straight Varsity victory at Twickenham on Thursday, December 12.
That would mean three out of three for Wade, who is still relishing combining his roles at Wasps and the Dark Blues.
“It is very different to any other sort of coaching,” he said.
“At a professional club or in league rugby, you have got to win every week and sometimes that is very much to the detriment of progress.”
Oxford University (v Trinity College, Dublin): Olivier, Lamont*, Janney*, Turner*, Vallance*, Taylor, Shorthose, Anderson*, Wisson, I Williams, Patch, Rowlands*, Harris* (capt), Jones*, Heathcote. Reps: Gardner*, Irvine, Symington, Greeff, Rickner*, C Williams, Alexander-Neil, Hudson* #. * denotes Blue # denotes international.
Comments are closed on this article.