Like many good stories, this one begins in a pub. Since its inception in 1988, when Heather Lawrence and Sophia Mirchandani came together at a Cambridge pub to organise the first women’s Varsity Match, the fixture has grown rapidly and is now a highlight on the amateur rugby calendar. Plenty of iconic women have graced this fixture, including international players like Sue Day.
So, let us take a look at some of the players who will further cement the iconic status of this match at Twickenham on March 25th.
Oxford: ‘Come game day, I’ll be ready’
Oxford and Cambridge women’s Blues have already played twice this season, with the Dark Blues returning to Oxford victorious on both occasions. We sat down with three members of the Oxford squad to gauge their thoughts, feelings and emotions ahead of the Varsity Match.
Chloe-Marie Hawley, who plays Fly Half, spoke about the sense of “honour” she feels to pull on the dark blue jersey, a feeling which becomes even more heightened when doing so at the home of rugby. Chloe is cool, calm and collected ahead of the big game though, and manages the emotions of this intense rivalry by blocking out the noise and sticking to her routine; “you have to treat it like any other game … you can’t let the emotions and pressure get to you. You have to channel those emotions into adrenaline for the game and put on your best performance.” Chloe clearly has ice in her veins …
Sophie Shams, who also plays for Saracens, also looks to negate the nerves of playing in such a big rivalry. She does this by focussing on the comradery of the team and by reminding herself that, at the end of the day, she is here, “playing a game of rugby with my friends, and we’re going to play as hard as we can for each other”.
Sarah Skinner understands the “long tradition” of the Varsity Match and is grateful to be able to “contribute to the continuation of this legacy”. Sarah revealed to us that she is a member of the US Navy, so viewers should be expecting to see a steely determination from on March 25th!
Cambridge: ‘We have a lot of fight in us’
The Cambridge women will be determined to get some revenge over the ‘Other Place’ following this year’s results, and the players were in high spirits ahead of the Varsity Match when we spoke to them.
Nalini Ram-Prasad, from Corpus Christi college, was glowing in her assessment of the vibe surrounding CURUFC this year calling it a “family” with her teammates “feeling like sisters”. Nalini explained the journey and process that her team has undergone this year and this has her feeling confident on Cambridge’s chances: “because it’s not been the easiest journey, we have a lot of fight in us and I think we’ll do really well!”
Sophia Nie was full of praise for the CURUFC club atmosphere, calling it the “best sports club in Cambridge.” Sophie is feeling so good about the club that she reckons the team has the Varsity Match “in the bag”. You’ve got to love the confidence!
Poppy Latimer was bullish on Cambridge’s chances. Reflecting on the history of the women’s Varsity Match, she was also excited to “continue the tradition” of the game, “it’s a great opportunity for today’s players to follow in the footsteps of those who have paved the way before.”
All that awaits these awesome players is the chance to write themselves into ever expanding story of the Women’s Varsity match in a few weeks’ time.
Tickets to witness this next chapter of Varsity Matches’ history are on sale now! Don’t miss out on the chance to see the birth of the matches’ next heroes.