Some Oxford rugby players were reluctant to take part when the Oxfordshire Knockout Cup was first introduced.

But they soon changed their tune after going on a run and clinching the trophy at the first attempt.

The Oxfordshire Rugby Knockout Cup was launched in 1970, coinciding with the Rugby Football Union centenary celebrations.

It was the first opportunity clubs in the county had had to enjoy competitive rugby.

Former county president Sam Millar arranged the competition and obtained the trophy which was given anonymously.

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At an Oxford Rugby Football Club committee meeting, it became clear that some players didn’t want to play.

Despite some players’ reluctance to take part, the competition still went ahead.

And all the affiliated clubs in the county agreed to join in.

In the first round, on a Monday evening in September 1970, Oxford were drawn away to Banbury.

Banbury was a club that no longer featured in Oxford’s fixture list and who relished the chance to meet an old adversary on equal terms.

For Oxford, it was two days after a tough fixture and defeat at Lydney.

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But the team turned on a great display of attacking rugby to defeat the home side 19-3.

Oxford ended up scoring four tries in the second half, the best chances coming from breaks by Ray Tapper.

The following Monday, Oxford played in the second round at Bicester.

The opposition played hard and never gave up, but steady pressure brought the visitors 11 tries and a 46-6 victory to put them in the semi-finals.

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At a time of the season when most players were dusting their boots and thinking of the beach, Oxford had unfinished business and a tie against local rivals Oxford Marathons on a neutral ground, Marston Ferry Road.

Oxford relaxed almost fatally in the closing stages, but four tries were enough to earn them a 16-14 victory.

In the first Oxfordshire County Cup Final, on Thursday, April 28 1971, at the Oxford University ground in Iffley Road, Oxford fielded a big mobile pack against Henley.

The star of the match was fly half Ray Tapper - he scored three tries as Oxford ran away with the game.

It may not have been a great final, but there was a lot of excitement with Roy Tapper, Alan Barraclough and Nigel Furley adding further tries in the 28-6 win.

Despite initial reluctance by some players, the general feeling was that the cup competition had provided some fresh stimulus, interest and support for the game in Oxfordshire.

Whatever its critics thought, the cup was here to stay.

There were many more hard-fought battles to come over the seasons ahead.

For Oxford, as county champions, there was now a ready-made gateway into the National Knockout Cup.

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Oxford’s cup success is described in Mud, Men and Memories, the Story of Oxford RFC.

The book is by Richard Tyrrell, and it is available from Stray Cat Publishing, 159 Banbury Road, Kidlington, Oxford OX5 1AL, price £12.