Wallaby at work
Dan Vickerman told skysports.com he expects the Varsity clash to rival the intensity of a Test.
By Joe Drabble
Last Updated: 10/12/08 1:13pm
Former Australia international turned Cambridge University student Dan Vickerman is expecting the upcoming Varsity match against Oxford to rival the intensity of a Test match.
Vickerman, who made 52 appearances for the Wallabies between 2002-2007, is preparing to make his Varsity debut on Thursday, live on Sky Sports.
After playing in two World Cups and experiencing tours of Europe and Argentina with the Wallabies, Vickerman could be forgiven for taking this University clash less seriously.
However, the 29-year-old lock, who is now studying economics at Cambridge, insists Thursday's showdown is up there with the biggest games of his glittering career.
Speaking exclusively to skysports.com, Vickerman said: "In its own sense this is a Test match, everything hinges on one match a year. It is all judged on how you perform for 80 minutes on December 11.
"It is a Test match in many respects, you've got to go out there and perform, unfortunately whilst it is still a game of rugby, second place is not good enough.
"It's just as intense and the guys are very, very passionate about it and running out in front of a big crowd - the history and tradition is something you can't underestimate."
Despite suffering a string of frustrating injuries which hampered his availability for the Wallabies, Vickerman would still be well in contention for a place in the national side if available.
However, the former Brumbies and Waratahs lock has opted to study the books of economics rather than continue his international career - a decision he doesn't regret.
"It was a good opportunity to do something different, to be able to combine the rugby and the studying is something I've attempted to do throughout my professional career," said Vickerman.
"To be able to get the opportunity to study at an institution such as Cambridge, being 29 years old, the longer you leave it the older you get.
"The opportunity was too good and to come to the UK with my wife and combine it with my education and to play some rugby with a good bunch of guys is too good to refuse."
Oxford head into Thursday's match looking to snap a run of three consecutive defeats to their arch-rivals.
One man confident the Dark Blues can regain the bragging rights at Twickenham is captain Peter Clarke, who insists his players won't dwell on past results.
"What's happened in the past is confined to the archives now," he said. "We are very much about this year - it's a new team and all we want to do is do ourselves justice for the 2008 Blues.
"It's a very big occasion, for a lot of players probably the biggest game they will play throughout their careers so the guys will be motivated and it's just my job to keep them focused.
"There is all sorts going through my mind at the moment, excitement, anxiety but everyone is just looking forward to the game and we can't wait to hear that whistle and get on with the game.
"It will be a proud moment to lead us out but at the end of the day we are out there to get a result, it's about all the boys and it's about the whole university."
And, while admitting playing against someone of Vickerman's calibre is a great challenge, Clarke insists his players won't be overawed.
"He's just one jersey and one player and we will obviously respect him but we will get stuck in as well.
"It's going to be a great challenge but we have to concentrate on ourselves and make sure we do ourselves justice.
"There is a real buzz around the university and the match is the beacon of amateur sport in England if not worldwide so we will be ready come Thursday."
Tickets for the Nomura Varsity match are available on the day from Twickenham, priced from £20 for adults.