December 8 down the years
Snow, sulks and 'immature young men'

Cambridge's 9-6 victory - all points from kicks - in the 100th official Varsity match in a game which should never have been played. Three inches of snow in the morning caught the authorities unaware and by kick-off time only the touchlines had been cleared. Within minutes of the start it was clear the game would be one of fumbles and drops as the ball became coated in snow every time it hit the ground. Nigel Roberts, Oxford's captain, said he was "disgusted" adding: " I was very disappointed for ourselves and for the people who watched. The pitch should have been cleared and it was appalling that it was not done." RFU secretary Bob Weighall pompously replied with the tone of a master to an errant pupil, telling Roberts he was "an immature young man" and that even had the snow been cleared "then people would not have been able to see".

Welsh winger Gerald Davies captained Cambridge in the Varsity match, but Oxford, tagged beforehand as "the worst Dark Blues side in 101 years" after wining oen out of 12 matches,dominated the line-outs and ran out 14-3 winners. "We were a bit sick of the publicity and so went into the match just like going into the Zulu wars again," said Oxford's Peter Carroll. The belief Cambridge would rout Oxford led to one of the fixture's smallest attendances for years.

The Argentina board voted to pay its players, one of the last major countries to do so. Its players were already professional with a dozen playing in Europe, although the domestic game remained amateur.

Much spluttering of the RFU blazers as they read their morning papers which reported that more than 50 leading players had been paid to wear branded boots. The RFU was on the warpath, threatening to ban players for life, but the other boards chose to take a more pragmatic view. The RFU demanded Adidas reveal the names of those signed up. Adidas gave the corporate equivalent of a two-finger salute and the RFU were left to rage against the changing world order. The RFU's one response was to ban all Adidas advertising from Twickenham …

A challenge which appeared on this day in Bell's Weekly led to the first international match a little under four months later. A letter signed by the captains of five Scottish clubs, inviting any team "selected from the whole of England" to a 20-a-side game to be played under the Rugby rules.

The Varsity match was staged at Twickenham for the first time and Oxford claimed the bragging rights. Apart from the inaugural match at Oxford in 1872 and the return a year later at Cambridge, the official series has always been staged in the London area.

Former England captain Brigadier Doug Kendrew, later to become Major General Sir Douglas Kendrew, was awarded the DSO for the fourth time. This most recent award was for "dynamic leadership and exceptional skill" while serving for the British military in Korea.

The original Springboks were held to a 3-3 draw by England at Crystal Palace. The clash marked the final Test match to be played at the London venue which was chosen for its large capacity. The Crystal Palace stadium played host to just one other England Test - a 15-0 defeat to New Zealand the year before.


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