Ransom pays out in Oxford triumph
Ben Ransom delivered a man-ofthe-match display as Oxford surged to victory in the 137th Varsity Match with five tries.
There was a Saracens stamp on the win. The Dark Blues had been coached by England scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth and then a virtuoso performance from fullback Ransom stole the show.
The 26-year-old had contributed to domestic and European glories over five seasons at Saracens before joining London Irish. He chose to leave the Exiles to pursue a masters in business management.
Ransom was a scampering, assured presence, playing two scoring passes to right-wing Dan Barley, securing a torrent of high balls and evading Cambridge defenders.
“All year we bought into that amateur culture – a love of the game, a love of each other,” he said afterwards. “The first 20 minutes Cambridge came at us. In the second half, we built on the momentum and took it to them in the wide channels.”
Cambridge captain Nick Koster began the game with a series of bruising carries and also clamped over Oxford wing Tom Stileman to win a breakdown penalty.
Three penalties from Cambridge fly-half Mike Phillips allowed Cambridge to build a 9-3 advantage before Wigglesworth’s influence started to shine through. A box-kick from Oxford scrum-half George Tresidder skipped into touch on the Cambridge 22. After the line-out was stolen, Ransom stepped outside Cambridge left-wing Joe Story before drawing opposite man Joey Gatus and freeing Barley. Tom Humberstone’s touchline conversion sent Oxford in at half-time with a 10-9 advantage.
Early in the second period, Story spilt another Tresidder box-kick and referee Nigel Owens penalised Cambridge for offside.
Oxford’s driving maul, propelled by former Harlequins lock George Robson, could not be stopped. In the middle of it was back-rower Charlie Pozniak who scored the try. Humberstone converted.
Ransom then rose to gather a Cambridge clearance and flummoxed four chasers. The ball was spread across the 22 and Stileman scored a first try on his fourth Varsity match appearance.
Ransom’s chip and chase turned Cambridge and when Phillips infringed, picking up a yellow card, Oxford kicked to touch. Ransom’s offload provided Barley’s second.
Cambridge hit back with a driving maul that carried over Koster but Humberstone, aided by Ransom, wriggled through for Oxford’s fifth try, converting himself for a tally of 18 points.
“I’m at Oxford for an education,” said Ransom, answering whether he would be tempted back into professional sport. “I’d never say never. If a good team came along and I wanted to continue with my [playing] career then potentially but, right now, I am focused on the next phase of my life.”
Cup of joy: Oxford celebrate their victory over Cambridge in the Varsity match