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Oxford Spring Scrum Half Surprise On Cambridge For Women’s Varsity Match In Leicester

Oxford University skipper Fiona Kennedy has asked her two new international recruits to play out of position against Cambridge in the Women’s Varsity Match at the Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium on Sunday, 4 July.

The 13-times capped Wales back row cap Manon Johnes has been picked at scrum half, while Italian flanker Bianca Coltellini finds herself playing in the centre as the Dark Blues go in search of their first win since 2016.

Johnes played for Wales in the Women’s Six Nations this year and has been a regular in the back row for Bristol Bears in the PremierXVs tournament. The 23-year-old Coltellini, who plays for Milan, won her first caps in the Six Nations at the age of 19 while playing for Hartpury College.

“I’ve got to do whatever I can to help those around me to turn in a great performance on the day – that’s what I want to achieve,” said Johnes, who is reading geography at St Catherine’s.

“I’ve been able to experiment with a few different skills in the build-up games. I’ve been practicing my box kicking, which was completely new to me, and I’m just looking forward to playing with my new team mates.

“I missed out on playing with my mates growing up because I was playing for Wales at 17, so being at Oxford is giving me the chance to make up for that and to enjoy myself. I’ve been able to offer some advice and support to a few of my new team mates and it looks as though things are building nicely towards the big day.”
“It isn’t as intense or pressurised as playing for Bristol Bears or Wales, but I certainly know what is expected of me on 4 July and how important the game is to the university.”

Kennedy is one of seven returning Blues in the Oxford starting line-up for a game that will be played under the RFU’s Law Variations due to COVID-19 constraints. That means there will be now scrums or mauls allowed.

Cambridge skipper Elisha Clarke is also one of seven Blues in her starting XV and she has the 2019 winning captain Fiona Shuttleworth in the back row alongside her twin sister Jenni once again. It will be Fiona’s fourth appearance in the Varsity Matches, while fellow veterinary medicine student Alice Elgar will be hoping to come off the bench to win a sixth Blue.

The Light Blues completed their preparations with a game at Loughborough University last weekend and will head into the game in Leicester looking for a 10th win in 14 meetings as they attempt to close the gap even further between the two arch-rivals. First played in 1988, Oxford lead 21-12 overall having won 13 of the first 14 clashes.

“It has been a difficult build-up for the players on both sides because of exams and the COVID restrictions, but at Cambridge we are all so excited at the prospect of playing a Varsity match after such a long break from the last one,” said Clarke.

“We’ve got a lot of experienced players and a lot of good new recruits who have blended in well since we resumed training. The law variations should make it an even more exciting spectacle for players and spectators and we simply can’t wait to get out there and chase another win.

“These matches are very special and I think this one at Leicester will be even more so because of the times in which we are living.”

The Women’s Varsity Match kicks-off at 1.00pm followed by the Men’s game at 3.30pm. For full details on how to buy tickets, or to order the Live Stream of both matches, go to thevarsitymatches.com.

OXFORD:

Clodagh Holmes * (University); Maddie Hindson (University), Megan Carter * (Lincoln), Bianca Coltellini (Keble), Helen Potts * (New); `Fiona Kennedy * (St Hilda’s, captain), Manon Johnes (St Catherine’s); Maya Mellor (Somerville), Milly Cadman (St Hugh’s), Jessi Abele (Exeter), Katie Collis * (Lincoln), Carla Schmidt * (New), Megan Isaac (Exeter), Alex Travers (Worcester), Hannah Cooper * (Worcester)
Replacements: Ruby James (Brasenose), Ginny Gough (Regent’s Park), Iris Maxfield (St Anne’s), Alex Allum Pearce (St Hugh’s), Rachel Martin (Brasenose), Stella Farmer (Worcester), Laurel Chor (Christ Church), Chloe Hawley (St Catherine’s)

CAMBRIDGE:

Ella Halcrow * (Murray Edwards); Hetta Friend (Robinson), Emily Bell (Fitzwilliam), Maggie Simpson (Hughes Hall), Emma Jones (Selwyn); Elisha Clark * (St John’s, captain), Colette Russell (Fitzwilliam); Liz Stevenson (Darwin), Charlotte Spruzen * (Queens’), Vianney Gomezgil Yaspik (St Edmund’s), Saffron Hicks * (Selwyn, Medicine), Hilde Schneemann * (Darwin), Jenni Shuttleworth * (Churchill), Fiona Shuttleworth * (Pembroke), Anna Park (Newnham)
Replacements: Rhiannon Osborne (St Catharine’s), Laura Bleehen * (Girton), Alice Elgar * (Girton), Rose Scowen * (Magdalene), Cara Prowling * (St John’s), Millie Bushrod (Pembroke), Jen Atherton * (Jesus), Suzi Posniak (St Catharine’s)

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