Ulsterman Dass striving to lead Cambridge to Varsity glory
Former Ulster Ravens back-rower Daniel Dass will be one of three Irishmen in the Cambridge University pack when he leads the Light Blues into the 135th Varsity Match at Twickenham on Thursday, December 8.
The 21-year-old Belfast Royal Academy product will be hoping it is third time lucky for him after losing the last two of what has become a record-breaking six consecutive wins for Oxford in the annual battle of the blues.
Joining him in the back row will be former Trinity College, Dublin and Irish Universities flanker Brian du Toit, who will be winning his first Blue, as will tighthead prop Jonathan Dixon. The Royal School, Armagh and Queens’ University front-rower has played for Ulster Under-20s and featured in the second team fixture for the Cambridge LX team against the Oxford Greyhounds last year.
Dass said: “Even though we lost, 2015 was a fantastic experience. It was so disappointing to lose, but it was still a great season that built us as a team and me as a person.
“In the past two years we have had a lot of returning players, but it has been a lot fresher this year. It has been a very new year and everyone is really excited.
“We’ve gathered a bit of momentum with four wins in a row, but we know that still won’t be good enough on the day against Oxford. Their first-phase defence and desire will be much greater than we have faced recently.
“We will have to play better than we have been doing to win at Twickenham. We’ve had some highly competitive games and, when we stick to our structures, we look really good.”
Loosehead prop Will Briggs will equal the record of six Blues shared by Herbert Fuller (Cambridge 1878-1883) and Lewis Anderson (Oxford 2010-2015) as he goes in search of his first win in his final Varsity Match.
Cambridge’s secret weapon will be Bristol Rugby full-back and former England sevens star Charlie Amesbury. He will follow in the footsteps of Jamie Roberts, who played in last year’s defeat two months after playing for Wales at the Rugby World Cup.
Tom Stanley is another with professional experience in the Cambridge line-up.
31-year-old Richard Bartholomew will be aiming to win his fifth Blue off the Cambridge bench, while Lola Erogbogbo will be hoping his identical twin, Lare, can come on to make it a family double after he won his Blue last year.