I started playing for the Under 21s in my first year, going on tour before I started Freshers’ Week. Knowing some of the guys before definitely helped me settle in. Hopefully rugby hasn’t defined my Oxford career as much as sports like rowing can do. Although you spend a lot of time with your team mates, I have lots of friends outside rugby. I get involved with college stuff as much as I can and try to avoid being a stereotypical ‘rugger bugger’. I guess you miss out on stuff but it’s worthwhile at the end of the day.
What was it like playing with Joe Roff?
Off the field you wouldn’t think Roffy was one of the greats of the game due to his modest, laid-back demeanour. On the field, though, you can’t help but learn from the way he dominates the game, always seeming to have time on the ball. As a developing player in the same position, it’s obviously an invaluable experience.
Do you think that Blues rugby has been devalued by the decreasing numbers of undergraduates playing for them?
Quite the opposite I think. Having the opportunity to play alongside stronger, more experienced players is what makes the Varsity Match the best amateur game in the rugby calendar. Some of the older guys really bring on the undergraduate players coming up through the ranks, offloading their experience in skills and conditioning etc. Having said that, not making the team can be frustrating, but I think it makes the rugby Blue so much more special if an undergraduate manages to win one.
Who is the best player you’ve played against?
It sounds a bit contrived wheeling out players’ names, but playing in the Michaelmas fixtures you occasionally find yourself up against a big gun, which can be quite nerve racking, but you just play like it’s any other bloke.
Do you hope to play in the Varsity Match this year? Would it be the biggest moment of your rugby career to date?
I’ve got to the stage now where I think I can challenge for a Varsity spot. Every guy who plays for OURFC wants to run out onto Twickenham in front of 40,000 supporters. Let’s just say I wouldn’t say no.
How does the Blues standard compare to other levels of rugby you’ve played in the past?
Coming as a school boy, whatever level you play, there is a massive step up in physicality and aggression which you soon adapt to.
Are you planning on continuing with your rugby after Oxford?
I want to keep my options open, but I have the opportunity to keep playing good rugby and developing as a player.
Do you play any college rugby?
I love playing for college; it’s a hugely intimate team atmosphere. You definitely get a real buzz every time you pull on the jersey. Losing Cuppers final was probably the worst feeling I’ve had on a rugby field.
Do you have any problems balancing your OURFC commitments with your degree?
I often have times when I’m rushing from a tute to the game and don’t get to prepare as well as I should, or when you miss lectures for a game in Wales or something, but I think everyone needs a focus outside their academics otherwise you would go mad.
Does your status as a Blues player get you noticed in Oxford?
I guess so, but to be honest I’m a bit of a space cadet so I wouldn’t know.
Which current famous rugby players would you compare yourself to?
Stirling Mortlock is a bit of a hero, but I wouldn’t begin to compare myself to him.
Are there any current Blues players worth watching out for?
There are a lot of guys coming through, which is exciting to watch, Chris Davies is probably the best fresher forward this club has seen for years, I just hope he doesn’t get sidetracked by all his lady friends.
Who has the best banter on the Blues team?
Nobody springs to mind but Bertie ‘The Banter Vacuum’ Payne…well the name speaks for itself really.