Anouk and her mates at TwickenhamAnouk Waller-Sergeant

Varsity weekend is one of the most highly anticipated weekends in the Oxbridge calendar, and yes, I know it sounds pretentious, but Varsity is so much more than rich, privileged students fighting out decade-old tradition. There absolutely is that element of schoolboy rugby, with strange chants and traditions that nobody really understands, but at the heart of the match is a day celebrating the dedication and hard work put in by each and every player.

CURUFC are an incredible team. In 2015, men and women players came together to form one club, in which opportunities and training would be equal for all teams and genders. There are six Varsity matches which are played annually. This year, I had the opportunity to play for the third team (we won 47-0 if you didn’t already know) after only starting rugby in November. We were presented shirts and we won a trophy. We felt like we were treated with as much team pride as everyone else, even though we have nowhere near the experience of some of the Blues. I love CURUFC.

On the day of Blues Varsity, we arrived at the stadium a little before kickoff, grabbed ourselves a pint, and settled into our seats. After unravelling all of our hilariously witty banners, the Light Blues ran on, and the game began. First was the women’s match, and Cambridge were captained by scrum-half Emilia Bushrod. The team fought so fiercely in the first half, playing the best they have all season, their dedication and fight present in every pass, kick and tackle. Our captain scored, and it was glorious. Sadly, the game did not end in the way we would have wanted it to, with a 31-12 loss to Oxford, but we were all so proud. The emotion shown by every player was so high – at the end of the day, they had played at Twickenham, the home of English rugby, and (thanks to substitutions in the last 5 minutes) every player walked off that pitch a Blue. When we saw them all running towards us at the end of the match, we filled with a pride that Oxford could never have taken away. It is impossible not to be in love with each and every player. It’s impossible not to admire them as women. It’s impossible to feel anything but awe every time they play.

While spectating at Twickenham, I was so proud of what our club has achieved, and how the opportunities given to the women standing on that pitch are above and beyond the usual standards of women’s sport. When at Cambridge, embrace Cambridge, and embrace sport.

CURUFC's women's sides celebrate after the matchAnouk Waller-Sergeant

It was maybe about ten minutes before the end of the women’s match when the stadium started to fill up. I am aware of my bias towards the women, but it is needed, as it was a kick in the teeth to realise that most spectators only wanted to be present for the mens’ match. This was their loss as one one of our players got a Crushbridge, and they generally played spectacularly. Due to injury, former England international Toby Flood had stepped back from the match, which meant the Light Blues were captained by Ben Gompels at hooker. Oxford’s strong scrums did not deter Cambridge, who went into an early lead thanks to a penalty, with continuous efforts meaning a 10-10 draw at halftime turned into a 15-10 win. The trophy has now been returned to its rightful place.

It was sad to see Twickers so empty for the women’s game, but for some reason the crowd were less roused for the mens. Oxford’s supporters seemed to genuinely be in a library, while we at least had some stuff going. Lifting the trophy was an emotional moment to watch, as families and friends cheered knowing full well the efforts that these men had put in.


Mountain View

Holmes puts Cambridge under the Hammer

While Twickenham was full of chinos, private school ties and mullets, there were also many sat in their seats who, coming from poorer backgrounds, would never usually get the chance to spectate at such a major location. To anyone out there who, like me, is overwhelmed by the enormity of “Cambridge” compared to their humble backgrounds: take every opportunity, even the ones which you don’t think are accessible to you.

Then, make rich friends. Stay in their mansions over Varsity weekend, watch the rugby and rowing, and GDBO until you can’t damn them any more. Rugby might be the sport for you – especially if you’re female or nonbinary – and it could very easily be you one day running on to the pitch at Twickenham.