‘Genuine belief we would win’ for victorious Cambridge University rugby side
PUBLISHED: 12:30 16 December 2016
There was finally some Varsity joy for Cambridge as they beat Oxford 23-18 in the 135th annual rugby match at Twickenham – ending a run of six straight defeats.
And the victory brought plenty of pleasure to a trio with St Albans links, and espicially Old Albanian prop Will Briggs who has played in the last five contests.
However, the 26-year-old medical student, who joined Herbert Fuller and Lewis Anderson on a record six appearances, said the run of defeats was not somethign that played on his mind prior to the game.
He said: “The record didn’t cross my mind. I was just focussing on this year. We’ve got a tight-knit bunch this year. We knew Oxford were going to be tough but we all believed we would get the win.
“I’m still having to pinch myself. There was a genuine belief that we would win, which we’ve probably not had in years gone by and now the boys know what it’s like to win, that will continue.”
Briggs turns out for OAs because of James Shanahan, who combines a player-coach role at Woollams with the head coach role at Cambridge.
And after two years in the role, this one was worth waiting for.
“I’m really proud of the boys,” said Shanahan. “It’s the most confident I’ve been going in to a Varsity game. I knew it would be difficult, they always are, but the way this group has worked, they may not be the most talented I’ve had, but in terms of their attitude and application has been outstanding.
“We’ve had two week’s great preparation and I’m proud to come away from the game with a win. I’m happy for [captain Daniel Dass] and the rest of them because they have worked so hard. I just put things in place for them but they are the ones who delivered.”
The winning Cambridge try was scored by Rory Triniman, who lived in St Albans until he was eight, although it took a protracted decision from the television match official before light blue joy could explode.
And Shanahan admitted to a wave of relief when it was all over.
He said: “As soon as he put it down I knew he had scored but obviously the more replays they showed, the more I started to panic.
“My contract is up at the end of the year but I love it and I’m keen to do it [again].
“It’s such a different experience and very humbling. To be part of 135-years of history is very special and hopefully I can be involved for the next couple of years.”
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