Jason Law and Nate Brakeley haven’t seen their paths cross too much. Law played his college rugby at Cal, Brakeley at Dartmouth.
They didn’t meet in the CRC, where Brakeley helped Dartmouth win twice, or in major 15s college rugby, where Law helped Cal win championships. But Thursday they will face off at Twickenham, as both start at lock forward, and both wear #4 – Law for Oxford, and Brakeley for Cambridge.
This is Law’s second Blue, as he and former Cal teammate Derek Asbun both played in the famed Varsity Match in 2011. Brakeley, new to Cambridge this year, will earn his first.
For Law this is a good cap to a season that started with him coming back from injury.
“It has been quite the journey from tour in Portugal to matches versus Russia, Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers,” Law told RUGBYMag.com. “The season has gone quite well. I am really looking forward to Thursday, and it’s quite a unique situation to have two Americans opposite each other.”
Brakeley didn’t realize until this week that another American would be in the Oxford lineup. It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind as he pursues his MS in Energy Technologies, which is a one-year program.
“Cambridge has been a wonderful experience so far, in terms of academics and rugby,” said the 6-5 lock. “I couldn't have asked for more from my rugby experience. Purely on the rugby side of things, it’s just about the highest level I've played at. To be playing and training at that standard week-in and week-out has done wonders for my game and my confidence. It’s a huge step up from the Ivy League - the main difference being that in the Ivy League and American rugby in general, you have four or five playmakers and a supporting cast, and that really limits what you can do strategy-wise. Here, one through 15 are skilled and capable rugby players, and it makes for some exciting options.”
"The Varsity Match is a unique situation in where you prepare all term for one goal - beating Cambridge," said Law. "I can attribute much of my success this year to the Cal rugby ethos of constant performance improvement."
Brakeley too find himself looking back at his undergrad rugby days.
“The guys here are phenomenal - its a very similar ethos to Dartmouth, where you have a lot of driven, intelligent men coming together with a common love for the sport.”