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The British are coming! The British are coming!
Specifically, a touring Oxford University fifteen is making a two-week tour of New England and New York City. The team will play two matches against leading clubs, and train with four eastern colleges.
Oxford arrives September 10 in Boston and leaves from New York City September 26.
The college rugby co-training will occur on the campuses of Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale, and West Point. The two matches pit the Dark Blue against Elite Club's Boston's Mystic River on September 15, and New York's Old Blue on September 25.
Oxford and rival Cambridge are synonymous with the beginnings of rugby union, and also inter-scholastic sports competition. Rugby's so-called founder, William Webb Ellis, attended Brasenose College (Oxford) in 1825, two-years after allegedly "picking up the ball and running with it" at Rugby School.
These venerated universities played cricket in 1827 and featured the first boat race in 1829.
Oxford started playing rugby in 1869 with the first Varsity Match (the annual Oxford versus Cambridge game) played in 1872. In 1874, the schools agreed on a neutral site rather than continue with a home and away format. Since 1921, this match has been played in early December at Twickenham. In 135 contests (with interruptions during the two World Wars), Cambridge leads 62-59 with 14 ties.
Recently, the Women's Varsity Match moved from the smaller Twickenham Stoop into the main stadium.
Oxford plays in a dark blue jersey while Cambridge competes in a light blue stripe. Those who play in the Varsity Match are awarded a full blue for their participation.
The tour offers an excellent opportunity for the four colleges to train with an experienced squad of comparable age. The two matches will test two top American club programs against the highest standard of English college rugby.