Oxford lose but Banbury's Leonard Cheshire still a winner

Oxford University and Cambridge University rugby teams raised over £15,800 for disability charity Leonard Cheshire in Thursday’s annual Varsity Match showdown at Twickenham.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 5:13 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 5:13 pm
Agnes Court residents Andrew Mitchell, Louise Weeks and support worker Richard before the big game

The heartbreak of a dramatic double defeat for Oxford in the men’s and women’s game was tempered by the huge sum raised for the disability charity.

Andrew Mitchell, a resident at Leonard Cheshire’s Banbury care home Agnes Court, was lucky enough to watch this year's Varsity Match.

He said: “We had a very good day. I thought Oxford played well, and I was particularly sad for the women losing in the last few minutes. I always enjoy the players’ visits to Agnes Court.”

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Banbury residents were among more than 50 disabled adults from Leonard Cheshire services across the UK who came to the home of rugby for the Varsity Match.

In the 138th men’s Varsity Match, Cambridge won 15-0 in a rain-drenched encounter, whilst in the women's game, Oxford led for 76 minutes after a try from tighthead pop Jessica Abele, before Cambridge centre Coreen Grant changed everything with a spectacular try.

The late drama made it 8-5 to Cambridge women for the second year in a row.

Since the partnership between Varsity and Leonard Cheshire began in 2014, it has so far raised over £200,000 for the charity’s UK care homes, employment schemes, community projects and international education programmes.

Earlier this year Oxford players visited the residents and welcomed them to matches at Oxford’s Iffley Road ground.

Player of the match in the women’s game went to Cambridge star Coreen Grant, with the men’s award going to another key try scorer, Fergus Jemphrey,.

Jemphrey’s performance also earned him the Alistair Hignell medal, awarded in person by the 64-year-old former rugby star. Hignell, a former Cambridge captain and England international who has multiple sclerosis, is the record Varsity points scorer and a Leonard Cheshire ambassador.

The men’s Varsity Match began in 1872, and Cambridge currently have a 64-60 lead over Oxford. The women’s Varsity Match began in 1988, and Oxford have a 19-14 lead.