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Graham Croker

 Former premiership-winning Sydney University halfback, Nick Haydon, has captained Oxford University to a 21-10 win over Cambridge University in the 129th annual Varsity Match, played at Twickenham.

 Haydon, a medical graduate from Sydney University now at University College, Oxford, studying for a master’s in diagnostic imaging, led the Dark Blues to a two-tries-to-one win.

 Cambridge now hold a 61 to 53 advantage in the series that dates back to 1872. There have been 14 draws.

 Cambridge had won four of the past five meetings, including a 31-27 victory last year, when ex-Sydney University and Wallabies second-rower Dan Vickerman captained the Light Blues.

 They were favoured to win again this year, with Oxford having won only two of nine warm-up matches, but as Haydon said, Oxford had plenty of motivation.

 Oxford dedicated their surprise win to their head coach, Murray Henderson, who suffered personal tragedy in the build-up to the match. Henderson’s father, Peter, died in New Zealand last week but the coach decided to stay with his team and it was only on the eve of the match that he told the players the news.

“There have been big changes at the club and it looked a bit shaky when we had some big losses earlier in the season,” Haydon, 27, said. “Winning at Twickenham leaves us with bragging rights for the year and it doesn’t matter what happens in the rest of the season.”

 Alex Cheesman and James Crozier scored tries for the Dark Blues and Charlie Marr kicked 11 points, while Jimmy Richards kicked five points for Cambridge, who were also awarded a penalty try after wheeling a scrum.

 “It certainly will be a highlight for a lot of players’ rugby careers, playing at Twickenham in the Varsity Match,” Haydon said. “It’s a fantastic affair. We spend a whole year preparing for this one match. It has a lot of tradition behind it and it’s a very proud occasion for both universities.

  “It was very satisfying to put a performance out like that for the coaches, especially Murray. It shows the character of the man that he stayed over here after getting some bad news back home.”

 Haydon’s profession stood him in good stead when he was first selected for the Oxford XV. “When I first arrived we played an away match and didn’t have a doctor,” he said. “I spent the post-match stitching up a big American prop who was playing for us last year.”

 Haydon, who played in Sydney University’s 2007 and 2008 Shute Shield premierships in the Sydney grade competition, said selecting his team for the annual match was one of his toughest tasks as captain.  “It is one of the hardest things about being the captain,” he said.

 “Some people who hoped to be in the side missed out, but that’s the way it goes. Everybody had their chance through the term.”

 He said they had the game plan to take to Twickenham, having done “some quality analysis” on Cambridge.

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