Strathclyde mens XV went into Varsity having never lost the fixture, the Glasgow boys set out to end that unbeaten run and to lay their hands on the trophy. What followed was an enthralling contest at the sold out Scotstoun Stadium, with both teams putting in quality performances.
The match began with high intensity, both sets of players clearly relishing the chance to compete in this fixture. Following a very even start, Strath took the lead with a great burst of pace and the following conversion made it the perfect start for Strath. A great individual run seemed to add to Strathclyde’s tally not long after but to the relief of the Glasgow fans, the try was ruled out for a knock-on. Glasgow tried to find a way back into the game but Strathclyde did well to hold back their opposition and with the play heavily contested on the Glasgow try line, scored again. There was no ruling it out this time and the conversion saw a strong end to the half.
The halftime interval saw the Strathclyde mascot completely out-speed the Glasgow mascot in the “mascot race”. It remained to be seen though whether this would foreshadow the results of the game.
Despite Strathclyde’s daunting lead, Glasgow were very much still in the game and the start of the second half showed this. They looked lively and confident and with the roar of the crowd behind them, and clearly had not let their spirits drop. However, nine minutes into the second half the game was interrupted by a fight following a fierce tackle on Strathclyde’s Fergus Johnston, that quickly saw both teams get involved. The referee stepped in and both initiators were sent to the sin bin. Glasgow came close to getting into the game on a few occasions however Strathclyde were determined to keep their clean sheet. That resilience was broken though in the sixty-second minute when Glasgow kept pushing and were able to halve the deficit.
Just as it looked like the comeback was on though, Strathclyde immediately hit back, scoring a try down the left wing to regain their cushion and make it 7-19. Glasgow continued their strong second-half showing though and following a line-out, found a way through and were within seven once more.
In the final ten minutes the game was really in the balance. Strath were ahead, but a try and conversion from Glasgow would even things up. In the games’ dying moments, it seemed Glasgow’s fight had paid off as they were inches away from scoring down the left. It wasn’t to be though for Glasgow and the whistled sounded and Strathclyde were the winners.
Strathclyde’s number nine, Adam Shaw, was awarded the player of the match after an impressive display. Following the game, Glasgow’s number eleven, Oli Hill, highlighted his team’s improvement in the second half. Hill stated, “It’s tough to take really. We started a bit slow, worked our way back into the game well after half time, but we gave ourselves a bit too much to do and made a few costly errors.”
The 2023 instalment of Varsity was a tightly contested affair. Both teams put in a great showing, backed by some immense crowd support and will undeniably be leaving with their heads held high.