North East universities team up against Oxford
(24 November 2004)
The five North East universities’ rugby teams are joining forces to take on Oxford University in the first match of its kind.
The team, involving players from Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside universities, will face Oxford at Durham City’s Hollow Drift ground on Saturday 27 November at 2pm.
The North East students are putting local rivalries aside to form a united front against a team which has, so far, proved too strong for the individual sides. And it will also be a useful outing for the visitors, who meet Cambridge in their annual varsity challenge at Twickenham the week after their trip to Durham.
The North East team has called in the Newcastle Falcons’ Academy Manager, John Fletcher, for his experience and neutrality, to help coach and select the squad of 30.
Dr Geoffrey Bromiley, president of Durham University’s Rugby Club, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this prestigious fixture against Oxford University and it is wonderful to have the full support of our other leading university rugby teams in the North East.”
“We hope this will be the first of many encounters between the teams and that supporters from across the region will turn out to cheer on the North East!”
Steve Hill, Director of Rugby at Oxford University RFC, said : “We are aware that if the North Eastern Universitiies are able to field their strongest side we will provided with precisely the sort of rigorous game that we need immediately before the fixture with Cambridge.”
“At Oxford we are working, as are the North eastern Universities, to promote and develop student rugby both at community and elite levels. We value our long association with Durham University but in truth we have only been beaten twice by them since our first fixture in 1975 when we played in their centenary match and contrived a draw in the closing minutes.”
Durham City RFC’s ground will be an ironic homecoming for two of Oxford’s team. James Whittingham and Chou Mezger both played for Durham University’s first XV last year, where Mezger was club captain, but there will be no love lost in Saturday’s game when new rivalries come to the fore.
Among the spectators will be members of the Newcastle Falcons and representatives from the North East universities.
For media enquiries contact: Katherine Lakeland, Public Relations Officer, University of Durham on 0191 334 6081.
Media opportunity: Photographers are welcome to attend the North East Universities rugby training session at the Newcastle Falcons ground, Kingston Park on Thursday 25 November at 6.30pm.