Old Breconian Tom celebrates a double at the 130th Varsity Match

15 Mar 2012

Old Breconian Tom Evans managed to replicate the proudest day of his rugby career on Thursday 8th December when he pulled on the Dark Blue of Oxford in the 130th Nomura Varsity Match and played a full part in a famous win!

Oxford University defeated Cambridge University 28-10 giving the Dark Blues consecutive victories for the first time since they won three straight in 2000-02.

Will Kane, Karl Outen and Tom Mitchell touched down as Oxford outscored Cambridge three tries to one at Twickenham Stadium. Cassian Bramham-Law kicked 11 points.

“I think it’s pretty hard to discount every effort from one to 15 today,” Outen, who was named the Man of the Match, told Sky Sports. “Today was easily our best effort of the year.”

Old Breconian Tom EvansSecond-row Tom, who has played for the Cardiff Blues at Under 18 and 21 level, knows more than most about rugby history having been educated here at Christ College, and he has played for Cardiff University in the Welsh Varsity Match as well.

In the lead up to the 2011 Varsity Match, Tom explained that the highlight of his rugby playing career came last year when he played in Oxford’s winning side, lifting the Nomura Trophy at Twickenham after recording a 21-10 victory over fierce rivals Cambridge. Tom, 28, said: “I’ve played in a couple of big games and semi-finals in Wales but that game at Twickenham last year was pretty special. It was the best day of my rugby career.

“The atmosphere was just amazing. There were about 30,000 there, obviously they’re all students and so passionate – the noise was incredible.”

Tom made the decision to pursue a sporting and academic career at Oxford following advice from former Cardiff. Pontypridd and Wales lock Stuart Roy, who played for Cambridge University during his own medical studies. Tom said: “I took a year out after Christ College and Bob Newman, who’s a bit of a Cardiff legend and was a big influence on Sam Warburton and Jamie Roberts, took me under his wing.

“I played for Cardiff Under-19s before the game went regional and then the under-21s. I also played for Cardiff medics. At that point Mark Ring convinced me to come up to Caerphilly in the Welsh Premiership. I then played for Bridgend and my local team Glamorgan Wanderers. But I came up here after speaking to Stuart Roy and he said it would be the best year of my life – I’m very glad I made that decision.”

Tom follows in a long line of Welshmen, including Roy and fellow internationals Gerald Davies, Gareth Davies and Nick Walne, to feature in the Varsity Match and he was determined to repeat the feat of 2010 in this year’s fixture.

He added “It’s always a pretty close game. There’s a lot of new players each year and you have just three months to build a team from scratch but we’ve been lucky to keep a few guys. They got the better of us up front last year but the back row and halfbacks controlled the game despite not having a good platform. So we have a point to prove up front and have a few tricks up our sleeves. The guys are a year older and we’ve all improved as players.

Tom admitted to feeling the pre-match jitters and compares the historic match to any local derby – just on a bigger scale. And like any big amateur match there are plenty of post-match celebrations to toast a well-earned victory.

Tom explained: “It’s a big game and there’s such a buzz already. I can’t explain what a thrill it is to win it. The tradition has been there for so long that it’s become a focal point. We’re not pretending to be internationals or fantastic rugby players. We’re just doing what we enjoy and are all here for the same reasons. It’s very passionate. It really matters, not for money or contracts, but for pride in your university and that’s really refreshing.”

The clash at the home of English rugby could be the beginning of the end of Tom’s rugby career as he is in the process of applying for jobs back here in Wales and admits hanging up his playing boots will be a sad affair.

He added: “I’m applying for jobs in Wales and will hopefully comeback. I’d love to carry on playing rugby but you have to hang up your boots at some point and this might be my last year which will be sad.”

Tom was a pupil at Christ College between 1995 and 2002, qualified as a doctor from Cardiff University and is now studying for a Masters degree in Digital Imaging at St Hugh’s, Oxford.

Tom is the 16th player to gain a rugby blue from Christ College with the most recent being Jamie Reynolds (for Cambridge) in 1994 and Simon Griffin (captained Oxford) in 1986, and Ian Swan (Oxford) in 2010.