December 11 down the years
The great Oxford rebellion that backfired
The bore of the 1979 Varsity match summed up by the Daily Express ©

Oxford's US-led rowing mutiny of 1987 was infamous enough to be made into a film, True Blue. Less recalled is rugby's version when Oxford captain Mark Egan fought off a player revolt from a number of Blues - four of them internationals - who had opposed his appointment and opted to drop them rather than back down. His bold move worked and his makeshift XV won the Varsity match 21-12. Brian Smith, the international fly-half, was one of those axed but, as was traditional, he acted as touch judge as the previous year's captain. Usually the tough judge changed with the team but Smith did not. "Brian didn't come and I haven't seen him," said Egan. "But that's all in the past."

The Varsity match has often failed to deliver on entertainment but this game may have been the nadir. Oxford won 9-3 but the Daily Express said rugby lost in the "bored of the Blues". It added the match should be played in a field "so everybody not playing can stay away". Cambridge captain Ian Peck said: "There's a lot of tension and pressure and nobody goes to Twickenham to play a marvellous game and lose … if you are going to criticise any side for not moving the ball you should blame Oxford. They had all the ball and what did they do with it?" Oxford skipper Peter Enevoldson was unrepentant. "For anyone who is impartial and wants to see a game of Rugby, the Varsity match is the last place to be.''

Jonah Lomu, star of the Rugby World Cup in South Africa, was named the BBC's Overseas Sports Personality of the Year, beating boxer Mike Tyson and Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher. Lomu scored seven tries at the World Cup, including his famous four against England in the semi-final.

England lock Nigel Horton ended an unhappy spell at Toulouse by walking out on the club. He had been at odds with the management after being dropped earlier in the season. Horton, who had been a policeman, joined the club after making a career change to run a bar in the club. Horton played for England in three decades - his debut was in 1969 and his final appearance in the Grand Slam-winning side of 1980.

A wretched day for Cambridge fullback Tom Wells whose two errors cost his side in their 13-0 Varsity match loss. First he slipped on the frosty ground taking a pass near his line and Oxford pounced to score, then a skewed kick went straight to Oxford wing Trevor Brewer who ran the ball back for the decisive try.

Ronnie Poulton set a Varsity match record (that still stands), scoring five tries for Oxford in their 35-3 record victory at Queen's Club.

Cardiff's unexpected 8-6 defeat at home to Cambridge University was their first reverse of the season and their first at the Arms Park since April 1947. The young Cambridge flanker Clem Thomas, a future Welsh captain, scored one of the University's tries.

Munster gave the Springboks a hard match in Limerick before going down 11-8. Salty du Rand's try five minutes from time, converted by Basie Viviers, was the winning score.

Springbok loose forward Tommy Bedford was awarded Natal's Rhodes Scholarship. The player announced that he hoped to be in contention for a place in the Oxford side - he went on the captain them in 1966.


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