The Varsity Match & Americans

Varsity_MatchThe Varsity Match, which pits heated rivals Oxford and Cambridge against one another at Twickenham Stadium, played its 132nd match today with Oxford winning 33-15. That makes four in a row for Oxford. Cambridge still hold the overall lead with 61 wins to Oxford’s 57. The two teams have played to 14 draws.

Because Americans are no stranger to the match having had numerous participants over the years we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the more notable American participants.

Pete Dawkins (Oxford): Dawkins has quite a history as an athlete. He was a former All-American football player at West Point before going on to play for Oxford. In his first Varsity Match  he mesmerized the stunned Britons with good runs and hard hits. Of course Dawkins is most famous for introducing the “torpedo throw-in” an American football style take on the lineout.

Derek Asbun (Oxford): The former Oxford player and current Eagles player has nine caps to his name and looking very much a part of the Eagles set up going forward. Asbun was a former All-American at Cal before heading to Oxford to attend graduate school. After finishing up at Oxford he spent time training with Wasps before playing with the University of Cape Town in the Varsity Cup.

Nate Brakeley (Cambridge): Brakeley appeared in the 2012 Varsity Match in his only year at Cambridge. Like Asbun he was also a College All-American while playing for Dartmout. He helped lead the Big Green to a CRC title, which is named after Dawkins. After finishing up at Cambridge, Brakeley moved to New York where he currently suits up with NYAC.

Will Johnson (Oxford): Another player with full caps to his name Johnson was a standout player on the Harvard football team. He even earned tryouts with the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots following graduation. However, as fortunate would have it he gave rugby a go and found he was good at it. Johnson is potentially most famous for knocking out Welsh captain Ryan Jones when the U.S. played Wales in Chicago in 2009. He played professionally with London Irish for a time but is now in the business world.

Doug Rowe (Cambridge): Like several of the Americans that have played for either Cambridge or Oxford, Rowe appeared in the Varsity Match after he had been capped for the Eagles. His two appearances for the U.S. came against Romania and Wales in 2005 while his Blue for Cambridge came in 2008. He also played for the Classic Eagles recently.

Ray Lehner (Oxford): Lehner had a distinguished career for both Cal and the Eagles. He earned 39 caps for the Eagles and appeared in the 1999 World Cup. After retiring from the Eagles he took over as head coach at Olympic Club. He stepped down in 2012 focus more on his High School coaching duties.

Oxford University won their 4th consecutive Varsity Match with a 33-15 win over Cambridge.

Curtis Reed is the founder and editor of This Is American Rugby. He can be found on Twitter @ThisIsAmerRugby, on Facebook, and at www.thisisamericanrugby.com.