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RUGBY UNION: Dark Blues' London Welsh link
JOHN Carter hopes Oxford University could become a feeder club to their new city neighbours London Welsh.
Carter, who is captaining the Dark Blues for a second successive Varsity Match campaign, believes the arrival of Premiership rugby in Oxford can only help the game at Iffley Road.
And the 31-year-old back-row forward is looking forward to a developing relationship between his club and the Exiles.
“It is a benefit to have a Premiership side playing in Oxford and I can’t see it detracting from Oxford University,” said Carter.
“The standards are going to be different, but the excitement will be just as high here as it is there.
“In the future, we hope to work together in terms of the fixture list, so that we have home games on alternate weeks.
“What I can really see is us becoming a feeder club for them if they can remain in the Premiership.
“It can raise the level for our players and help us continue to become a high-performance centre.”
Carter said there was al-ready good contact between the Dark Blues and London Welsh.
And with the Aviva Premiership newboys not having the largest of squads and no formal academy, there might be an opportunity for some students to shine after the Varsity Match.
Carter said: “We have a lot of players who have played in the A League. There are plenty of opportunities there.
“It would be great if we could get a few players into their A team or beyond.”
The Dark Blues will have the same coaching team as in 2011, once again led by Wasps’ high performance manager James Wade as head coach.
But this year, they are not going on a conventional tour.
Instead, they will head for a training camp at Browns Sports and Leisure Club just outside Vilamoura in Portugal’s Algarve.
“We want to make the most of the opportunity to train there,” said Carter.
“We didn’t want to put on a game for a game’s sake.”
But the students have played an internal match and had a full-contact training session at Chinnor on Tuesday night.
Carter led the Dark Blues to a superb 28-10 victory over Cambridge at Twickenham last December.
And he believes captaining them again will still be unique because the whole campaign is about far more than just getting technique right on the field.
“You can never repeat the same experience,” he said. “That is down to the players as much as it is down to me.”
The Dark Blues’ first home match of the season is against Leicester Tigers on Monday, October 8.