Oxford University 33-29 Cambridge University
Varsity hero Catling dreams of pro career
December 12, 2008
Oxford University winger Tim Catling celebrates his side's 33-29 victory over Cambridge University in the 2008 Varsity Match at Twickenham in London, England on December 11, 2008.
Catling celebrates after his hat-trick inspired Oxford University to a narrow 33-29 victory over old rivals Cambridge University at Twickenham. © Getty Images

Oxford University's hat-trick hero Tim Catling is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his former schoolboy team mate Danny Cipriani and step up to the professional ranks.

The light-footed winger carved up the Cambridge University defence on his way to a superb first-half treble - the first since Cambridge's Ken Fyfe in 1934 - that laid the foundations for the Dark Blue's nail-biting 33-29 victory at Twickenham

And in the aftermath of his side's victory the 21-year-old immediately set his sights on making the grade in professional rugby.

Catling joined the London Irish academy after playing alongside Cipriani at Whitgift School but he was not offered professional terms by the Exiles. However he has continued to catch the eye this term with his latest performance taking his try tally to 14 in nine games.

He is off to Japan after Christmas as part of his Oriental Studies degree but would relish the chance to play professionally.

"It was a fantastic day and I am in a bit of shock now," he said. "I was brought back down to earth a bit in the second half but it was amazing. I was a team-mate of Danny's in the last couple of years. I'm not really in touch with him now. He's got a bit big now. We've lost contact.

"I played all over the shop really. At school I played wing and centre and fly-half. We would mix it up. Sometimes I would play 10 and he would play centre, sometimes the other way round. First and foremost I have got another year of studies at Oxford, but in the future I'd definitely like to play professionally.

"I was at the stage when they offer you a contract or that's it so I had to walk out of the door. I had an offer from Oxford so there would have been a decision to make anyway."

The last man to score a Varsity hat-trick for Oxford was Bernard Jacot in 1920, a law student who went on to swim for Great Britain at the 1924 Olympics.

Catling's brilliant display began after just six minutes with a turn of pace and powerful charge to beat two men and open the scoring. His second came after Oxford ran the ball from their own 22 and featured a classy in-out step to leave the defence in his wake.

And his hat-trick score was created by a deft inside ball from fly-half Ross Swanson.

Oxford's former All Blacks hooker Anton Oliver heaped praise on his side's match-winer. "Cats just cruises along. He's a linguist and although he's pretty modest I think he can speak three or four different languages. He's a lovely guy. A really good team man and fast."

Cambridge trailed by 18 points early in the second half before prop Niall Conlan burrowed over from close range. Oxford captain Peter Clarke restored the advantage with a breakaway try before Cambridge turned the screw late on with scores from Joe Wheeler and winger James Wellwood. But Oxford held out to secure their first victory in four years over the Light Blues.

Cambridge coach Tony Rodgers said: "The boys put in a really good second-half performance, especially in the last 20 minutes, but we gave ourselves just a bit too much of a mountain to climb."

© Scrum.com

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