Oxford skipper Hazel Ellender has won her fitness battle and the Dark Blues into the Women’s Varsity Match at Twickenham on Thursday, 12 December.
The Dark Blues leader damaged knee ligaments in the win over the Major Stanley’s XV last month and hasn’t played since. The 21-year-old Harlequins Development Squad front row forward will win her third Blue and is looking for her first win.
It will be the second time this season that Oxford and Cambridge have met and Fiona Shuttleworth’s Light Blues lead 1-0 after winning the BUCS Premier South match 23-5 at Grange Road on 3 November.
“It was a tough loss to Cambridge at Grange Road. We knew it was going to be a difficult trip and we were missing a few key players,” said Ellender.
“Training has been far more intense since then and that defeat gave us added incentive. We took a couple of days afterwards to reflect on it and I asked my players to remember just how awful it feels to lose to Cambridge.
“I’ve lost two Varsity Matches at Twickenham and I don’t want to feel that again.”
Pat Metcalfe-Jones, who is in the Richmond squad, and Bluebell Nicholls, who plays for Saracens, will both win their third Blues. Metcalfe-Jones will feature at outside half for Oxford, while Nicholls will team up with former Scotland U18 international Coreen Grant at centre for Cambridge.
Oxford will go in with 10 Blues in their starting XV and two more on the bench, while Shuttleworth will be one of six Blues taking the field with one more on the bench.
“It’s the same challenge as every year – coming out on the day and performing. We have a brilliant squad with amazing potential,” said Shuttleworth.
“We want to make the game an exciting battle that highlights women’s rugby. We want to win the best way, not at all costs.
“We were winning games by 60 points in the lower BUCS League last season and being in the higher division has been very good for us. We have really stepped up.”
The two teams will meet for a third time this season in the return BUCS Premier South fixture at Iffley Road on 29 January, 2020.
Connie Hurton * (Queen Elizabeth GS, Penrith & Pembroke)
Clodagh Holmes (Chellaston Academy, Derby & University)
Abby D’Cruz * (Como Secondary College, Perth, Western Australia & Keble)
Nina Jenkins (Hills Road Sixth Form College & Keble)
Helen Potts * (Bolton Girls’ School Division & New)
Pat Metcalfe-Jones * (Hockerill College & Christ Church)
Sile Johnson (Presentation College, Bandon & St Hugh’s)
Hazel Ellender * (King Edward VI GS & St Cross, captain)
Anna Bidgood * (Sedbergh School & University)
Jessica Abele * (Schickhardt Gymnasium, Germany & Exeter)
Katie Collis * (City of London Freemen’s School & Lincoln)
Carla Schmidt (Paul-Pfinzing Gymnasium, Germany & Magdalen)
Ailsa Clark (Reigate College & Worcester)
Phoebe Haste * (Peter Symonds College, Winchester & Trinity)
Hannah Cooper * (Bolton School Girls’ Division & Lincoln)
Ruby James (Altrincham Girl’s GS & Worcester)
Shekinah Opara * (Wallington County GS & Keble)
Esme Haywood (Gresham’s Holt School & Brasenose)
Meryem Arik (Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls & New)
Emily Cohen (Norton Hill School & Jesus)
Zoe Nunn (Rudolf Steiner School, Kings Langley & St Catherine’s)
Megan Carter * (Invicta GS & Lincoln)
Maddie Hindson (Monk’s Walk School & Keble)
Hannah Vandersluis (Yateley School & Peterhouse)
Hannah Samuel(Tunbridge Wells Girl’s GS & Girton)
Coreen Grant (The Royal High School, Edinburgh & Corpus Christi)
Bluebell Nicholls * (Ringmer Community College & King’s)
Ella Halcrow (Rugby HS & Murray Edwards)
Elisha Clark (South Holderness Technology College & St John’s)
Kate Marks * (Exeter School & Newnham)
Laura Bleehen (Howell’s School, Llandaff & Girton)
Emma Pierce * (Bournmouth School for Girls & St Catharine’s)
Laura Nunez-Mulder * (Rydal Penrhos / Holmfirth HS & Emmanuel)
Hilde Schneeman (Regional School Community Pantarijn , Netherlands & Darwin)
Lauren Gregory (Brighton, Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College & Corpus Christi)
Jenni Shuttleworth * (Olchfa CS & Churchill)
Fiona Shuttleworth * (Olchfa CS & Pembroke, captain)
Rose Scowen (Greenhead College / Bradford GS & Magdelene)
Charlotte Manser (Drayton Manor HS & Murray Edwards)
Alice Elgar * (South Wiltshire GS & Girton)
Saffron Hicks (Colchester Royal GS & Selwyn)
Marj Heemskerk (The Mountbatten School & Trinity Hall)
Cara Prowling (Rodillian Secondary School & St John’s)
Jen Atherton (Blackwell Secondary School & Jesus)
Emma McLoughlin (Ursuline HS, Wimbledon & St John’s)
Lottie Paterson(St Mary’s School, Calne & Corpus Christi)
* Denotes Blue
Referee: Laura Pettingale (RFU)