St Andrews seek fifth straight Scottish Varsity victory

From left, men's captains Nick Stephen (Edinburgh), Roland Walker (st Andrews) and the women's captains Rhiannon Fox-Rothwell (st Andrews) and Emma Dunbar (Edinburgh). Picutre by SNS Group/SRU Paul Devlin.
From left, men's captains Nick Stephen (Edinburgh), Roland Walker (st Andrews) and the women's captains Rhiannon Fox-Rothwell (st Andrews) and Emma Dunbar (Edinburgh). Picutre by SNS Group/SRU Paul Devlin.

St Andrews University is looking to secure a fifth successive Royal Bank of Scotland Scottish Varsity title tomorrow (Saturday), having announced its side to take on Edinburgh University at BT Murrayfield.

The women’s and men’s sides from St Andrews and Edinburgh will take to the international pitch, while the second and third XVs will also meet on the back pitches.

The Varsity is one of the biggest fixtures in the Scottish rugby calendar, with only Scotland internationals, the Melrose Sevens and a handful of professional club games attracting higher attendances.

University of Edinburgh women will go in as firm favourites over their St Andrews rivals, as they enter the tie undefeated in the Varsity and off the back of victory in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Rugby Union Championship.

The St Andrews men, however, will be targeting yet more success, after coming out on top in the last four Varsity games.

David Ross, men’s head coach at St Andrews, said: “We have been extremely successful over the past four years and we look forward to the challenge of going for five in a row. Edinburgh will provide the toughest test we have had this season, after they had an excellent run last year. We know that, with a ‘home’ crowd, they rightly go into the match as favourites.

“It is all about who handles the big match occasion best and it will be a true test of nerve.”

The Edinburgh camp is looking to build on the success of both their teams over the last year.

David Adamson, men’s head coach at Edinburgh, said: “We’re confident after a good season – we have a big player pool and always go into the game looking for a win. We have a strong back row and an exciting back three, so hopefully we can win some quick ball and do something with it.

“Following on from the success of the last couple of years, tickets have been selling well so we’re hoping for a big crowd.”

Darren Burns, student participation manager at Scottish Rugby, said: “Once again, we’re expecting a big crowd for this historic fixture – a great sign of the interest in Scottish student rugby.

“Our aim is to encourage more students to stay involved or try the sport for the first time through the exposure and excitement generated by the Varsity and our programmes designed to boost participation.”

Tickets are available at www.eticketing.co.uk/varsity.

The women’s match kicks off at 5pm and the Edinburgh XV comprises: Hannah Septoff, Anne McKelvey, Elizabeth Musgrove, Amy Walter, Lindsay Maguire; Helena Scullion, Rachel Law, Emma Dunbar, Hannah Kurtz, Katie Dougan, Liusaidh McMaster, Debbie Lee, Natalie Guy, Nicola Howat, Sally Stott (c). Replacements: Rebecca Young, Caroline Parker-Smith, Alison Glass, Hannah Gaddie, Dido Denier Van Der Gon, Rachael Harkavy.

St Andrews University: Shona Parratt, Alexis Jenkins, Myrtille Genot, Rhiannon Fox-Rothwell (c), Panashe Dazambo, Abbie Henderson, Emily Jones, Kate Saunders, Beth Tappenden, Georgina Farrington, Mhari Falconer, Sisley Comish, Lucy Hellawell, Nathalie Becker, Amy Parry. Replacements: Emily Brunton, Jordan Coules, Zorra Harris, Abigail Fryer, Sophie Lieke, Lanita Gutieva, Rosanna Curtis.

The men’s match kicks off at 6.15pm and the Edinburgh XV features: Jake Smerdon, Peter Howard, Robbie Kent, James Smith, Ben Rose, James Small-Edwards, Bruno Smith, Owen Poweel, Rob Thomas, Max Young, Ben Cogley, Tom Robertson, James Carson, Nick Stephen (c), Scott Burnside. Replacements: James Boyle, Josh Alcock, Ed Russell, Harry Ryan, Archie Dunnill, Dave O’Sullivan, Jon Price.

St Andrews University: Jacques Sharman, Roland Walker (c), Scott MacGregor, Toby Hall, Richard De Rome, Finn Murphy, Charlie Davies, Dan Cox, Malcolm Wood-Downey, Dugald Berezford, Stephen Tue, Michael Sutherland, Alex Whyte, Alex Hodgins, TJ Akinjobi. Replacements: Max Kaufman, Jamie Morrison, Ben Peddie, Alex Kulukundis, Rob Lind, Kelvin Chen, Hamish Payne.