RUGBY UNION: Varsity places up for grabs

Prop Bob Baker drives forward during Monday’s 27-10 defeat against Northampton. Baker, who scored two tries, was named man-of-the-match

Prop Bob Baker drives forward during Monday’s 27-10 defeat against Northampton. Baker, who scored two tries, was named man-of-the-match

First published in Sport The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Rugby, Cricket and Athletics. Call me on 01865 425456

JOHN Carter says there is still a chance for players to force their way into Oxford University’s Varsity Match squad.

The Dark Blues have one final match at Esher on Monday night before captain Carter announces his team and replacements.

Although the skipper knows the core of his side to face Cambridge University at Twickenham on December 6, his first XV are not set in stone.

“There’s always a few players that you are mulling over at this stage,” said Carter.

“It would be nice to have the team all sorted, but it is also a good problem to have.

“People are fighting for places and that’s what I wanted.”

Oxford have not really had a settled line-up this term, so their Varsity XV is harder to predict than in previous seasons.

The Dark Blues have won just once, but their peformances do seem to be improving, with Monday night’s 27-10 defeat to Northampton a case in point.

Carter, who missed the game due to a facial injury, said: “It was very encouraging.”

“The team is really coming together and the first half (which finished 10-10) was evidence of that.

“We made a lot of changes in the second half. If we had maintained our team, we may well have won the game.”

Carter is likely to play in the back row at Twickenham, as he did last year, after considering a move to lock in training.

“It is still an option because we still have one game to play before the Varsity, but people have stepped up in all positions,” he said.

“I am feeling very confident about all the positions throughout the squad.”

Carter needed eight stitches in his lip after the Major Stanley’s match last week, so had a purely watching brief against Northampton.

“I’m just trying to take the stitches out as we speak,” he said.

“It was very frustrating to miss out on Monday because I wanted to be involved.

“There is no way you can tape your mouth up, but maybe a few referees would like me to.”

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