FORMER Newport Gwent Dragons forward James Harris will play for Oxford University in their big showdown with Cambridge University at Twickenham next week.

The 26-year-old is set to feature in the back row having won a Blue in last year’s Varsity Match victory and has captained the side many times this season in the absence through injury of John Carter.

Although born in Kent, Harris qualified for Wales via his mother, who was from Newport. Educated at Eltham College, he took a BSc in geography and planning at Cardiff University and joined the Dragons Academy.

He played 19 times for the Gwent region between the 2006/07 and 2009/10 seasons under the then head coach Paul Turner, also representing Wales Under-20s and Wales Sevens.

Harris also played for Bedwas in the Principality Premiership during his time at the Dragons and subsequently joined Blackheath and London Wasps.

He is a man with considerable professional experience have played in the PRO12, Heineken Cup, Amlin Challenge Cup and Aviva Premiership.

Harris played for Wasps in their narrow quarter-final defeat to Biarritz Olympique in the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2012.

He went up to Oxford in September last year where he is studying for an MSc in sustainable urban development.

This year sees the 132nd Varsity Match and Oxford are seeking a record equalling fourth win in a row.

The clash takes place on Thursday, December 12 and there will be an expected crowd of around 30,000 at Twickenham to watch the game.

Harris is one of a few ex-professionals in the Oxford squad. Skipper Carter played for Sale Sharks and Northampton Saints in the back row while Rhodes Scholar Jacob Taylor is an Australia Sevens international.

Some prominent Wales players have featured in the Varsity Match over the years, including former Newport scrum half Onllwyn Brace and current Dragons chief executive Gareth Davies who played for Oxford as well as wing Gerald Davies who represented Cambridge.