The Oxford derby between St Edward’s, or Teddies as they are better known, and Radley College rarely disappoints. Both have a reputation for good rugby and are always well coached.
On a perfectly manicured pitch at Teddies this afternoon, that trend looked set to continue, the sun had broken through, both looked sharp in the warm up, we were all set to go.
As it turned out, the 27-13 victory for Radley was a superbly exciting and at times tense game, but it took a long time to get going.
Teddies opened the scoring with a penalty before Radley burst through the middle to score a try midway through the half, taking them to a 7-3 half time lead.
It had been a scrappy half, but one that the home side had probably edged. Certainly they had been largely in control of territory, but were struggling to win the ball at the lineout, which was limiting their attacking play.
The lineout was one area that featured the sort of innovations that one only really sees at school level. Teddies were defying convention mildly, with their blindside flanker throwing the darts and their hooker lifting. However Radley decided to do away with convention entirely, brining their right winger into the lineout and shifting their blindside on to his wing. You could see the theory, he was light and springy and could get up high. What odds on England bringing Anthony Watson into the line on Saturday night? It is little experiments like this that set the school game apart.
The second half was much like the first, scrappy yet intoxicating. Radley this time launched the first assault on the scoreboard, nudging through a penalty to go 10-3 ahead.
Teddies then appeared to seize control of the game, with their buzzing scrum half, comfortably their best player on the day, whipping around the base of the scrum to score a classic scrum-half try in the right hand corner, reducing the margin by just two points.
Radley were their own worst enemies at times though, kicking ball infield rather than down the line, or looking to run when the safe option might have been to turn Teddies around.
Yet through this period, and whilst under real pressure from Teddies, Radley managed to conjure two tries from almost nowhere. The first came from one of those high central kicks. Teddies looked to run it back, but with a Tommy Seymour like eye for a looping pass, Radley gulped down the pass infield and raced away for fully sixty metres to score under the posts, taking them 17-8 ahead.
A second swiftly followed, Teddies once again were putting the away side under heavy pressure, especially with Radley having a slightly rejigged backline after two players went off with rather nasty looking head injuries – thankfully by the end of the game they seemed to be in decent shape.
Deep in their own territory Radley turned the ball over, and then with All Black like thinking, immediately shifted it to the opposite flank as fast as possible, from where they stormed home for a near length of the field effort. It was arguably the great piece of quality from throughout the match, and took the game, realistically, too far away from Teddies.
This Teddies group are a determined bunch though, and having spoken in the build up about how this was the last chance for many of their team to beat their local rivals, they were not about to give up.
Rallying, they once again piled into the Radley 22, charging down a clearing kick and allowing their inside centre to scoot in underneath the posts.
Alas it was too little too late for the home side, and Radley sealed the game with a penalty in the last play of the game to seal a 27-13 victory that was a testament to their opportunism and their determination.
Once again, the Oxford derby proved to be an entertaining spectacle!
Full Time: St Edward’s, Oxford 13-27 Radley College
Images from the game can be seen in our Gallery, which is also has links to even more photos on our Facebook Page. Just click here: Teddies v Radley Photos