Sports

Dixon determined for Varsity victory

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Dixon determined for Varsity victory thumbnailFormer Royal School Armagh pupil Jonathan Dixon is set to line out for Cambridge in the Varsity Match this Thursday.

FORMER Royal School Armagh player Jonathan Dixon is set to follow in the footsteps of some of world rugby's finest ever players, as he prepares to take to the field for Cambridge in the annual Varsity Match at Twickenham on Thursday.

Dixon, who plays at prop, will take his place in the Cambridge side for one of rugby's most iconic matches at the home of English rugby.

The likes of British and Irish Lions centre Jamie Roberts, ex-Australian skipper Dan Vickerman and former Ulster Rugby out-half David Humphreys have all played for Oxford or Cambridge in the annual clash and Dixon said it is an honour to represent Cambridge in 2016.

“It is one of the iconic games of world rugby and you only have to like at some of the players who have played in it before.

“Last year Jamie Roberts played for Cambridge and he has represented the British and Irish Lions.

“It is a brilliant occasion and there are so many players who have been privileged enough to play in the game and I think I am the 1,256th person to pull on a Cambridge jersey at Twickenham!"

It will be a particularly poignant day for Dixon, who suffered a serious injury that almost led to him giving up rugby altogether!

“Three years ago I suffered a slipped disc and that left me out of action for three years.

“I only really got back playing properly last October when I first came to Cambridge to do my Masters.

“Before that I had played the whole way through at the Royal School and played for two years at Queen's University.

“I've also played for Ulster in a few representative teams as well.

“The injury was a setback, particularly when you are a prop and I got back playing last October for the 2nd XV, but there was only a month left in the season."

Dixon admitted that it has been a long hard slog since preparations began for this season and the Varsity game began back in March.

“We have been doing a lot of Strength and Conditioning work and we have spent an awful lot of time training as a team and then doing your own stuff away from training..

“It hasn't just been one or two of us. We have all been out cycling, swimming and getting ourselves as well prepared as we possibly can."

Balancing his studies for his PHD in History and his rugby commitments has been tricky for the Armagh native and Dixon said it has been difficult.

“Getting up at 6am and going to the gym is a daily occurrence for me.

“It can be a difficult balancing act between your rugby and your academic work, but it is simply the case of sacrificing that extra hour in bed in the morning.

“All of the Cambridge Blues are doing it and they are all working hard and that is what makes this group special."

In general, university sport can be quite low key, but Dixon admitted that it is a massive day for both Cambridge and Oxford.

“We don't have that same college sporting event culture like they do in the United States.

“But it is still a huge occasion and an iconic game.

“We've been told that they are expecting around 40,000 at Twickenham on Thursday and we have had some ex-players come in and tell us what to expect when the first ball is kicked.

“They have told us that the first 20 minutes can be a bit frenetic and hyped up and sometimes people lose their cool.

“It is important that we keep our cool and play our own game."

Dixon's Cambridge side hold a slender lead overall in the history of the Varsity match. They have recorded 61 wins, with Oxford just two behind on 59.

However, the pressure is firmly on Cambridge to stop Oxford recording a seventh successive Varsity victory.

“Oxford have won the last six games and we want to turn it around this year.

“We want to set the record straight on Thursday afternoon," concluded Dixon.

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