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By Jonny Singer for MailOnline. Having made a naked calendar which went viral prior to their match with Cambridge, there was added pressure on Oxford University women's rugby players on Thursday.
The team took on Cambridge for a Varsity match at Twickenham, less than a month after their players stripped off for Beat - a charity for those affected by eating disorders or difficulties with weight or shape. However, Oxford were second-best to a strong Cambridge outfit, beaten despite a defiant defensive display for the best part of an hour. The Oxford women's team took on their Cambridge counterparts at Twickenham on December On the pitch, Oxford in dark blue were second-best to a strong Cambridge outfit, beaten Oxford had lost this fixture by 47 points last season, and rarely threatened to do anything but lose again.
In front of thousands of fans at the home of rugby the light blues asserted their dominance from the off, full-back Alice Middleton leading the way with some dangerous running, particularly in the open field. Oxford had lost this fixture by 47 points last season, and rarely threatened to do anything but lose heavily again, but they showed grit — rather more than the Cambridge men did in a record defeat this time last year — to keep the game fiercely competitive until around the minute mark.
Even at that stage the game looked like an upward struggle for the girls in dark blue, who were going backwards at every scrum and failing to hold onto what little possession they had. An Oxford University scrum half prepares to pass, in one of the shots for the team's naked calendar. The No 9 swapped modelling duties for her scrummaging role as she attempted to dictate the play. The team were raising money for charity Beat, a cause supporting those affected by eating disorders. Two Oxford players engage in some physical contact under the posts during the nude shoot.
But they showed organization and resilience in defence against a side physically and technically superior in almost every area. The tries, however, did come, a product of near-constant pressure which saw first Middleton and then Lara Gibson cross in the first half, the Oxford defence having been sucked in too narrow.
Chloe Withers added a third early in the second half, touching down after pouncing on the ball a yard out when it went to ground, before Middleton bagged her second, following a delicious offload from centre Anna Wilson, who added two tries of her own in two minutes — the latter a brilliant solo effort — as Cambridge drove home their advantage.
Oxford displayed grit to keep the game fiercely competitive until around the minute mark. They showed organization and resilience in defence against a side physically and technically superior.
Despite the one-sided scoreline this was an engaging spectacle at the home of rugby. It was a sorry end to the game for an Oxford side that had given everything, but could not keep up the near-constant defence for the full 80 on a pitch the size of Twickenham. If not quite in its infancy, then this form of the game is certainly not out of adolescence. Despite the one-sided scoreline this was an engaging spectacle, and while nerves meant a few early handling errors, the standard, particularly of the tackling, was generally high, at least until tiredness took its toll late in the game.
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Oxford's naked calendar girls beaten by Cambridge in first-ever women's Varsity match at Twickenham