Gus Jones, St Catherine’s College
BA in Biological Sciences, 2nd year
Not only is Gus Jones a second year biologist at St Catz, he also happens to be an England Rugby Union youth international. Having captained Eton, Oxfordshire under-16’s, England under-17’s and under-18’s , he has recently been selected for the England under-20’s Six Nations squad. If this wasn’t enough, Gus is also a member of the London Wasps Elite Player Development Group as well as helping Oxford to two victories in the Varsity match at Twickenham, where he played blindside flanker. An impressive CV to say the least.
Jones played a part in two of the games for England in last year’s U20’s six nations – helping England to victories over both Scotland and Italy – as England retained their title for a third year in a row. Although most of his U20’s teammates are full-time rugby players playing in Premiership clubs’ academies, Jones has the additional difficulty of balancing his sporting commitments with his studies. This balancing act is something Jones finds fairly tough, feeling torn between international Rugby and Oxford academia. “England have their priorities, and those priorities are to win, so they want me to play and train with them as much as possible. Oxford and St. Catz on the other hand want me to do well for the benefit of the college but also because they care about the academic wellbeing of their students…being the middle man between the two is sometimes quite tough. I guess it’s my life in the end though and I have to make the decision.”
St Catz has given Jones seven days off this term which should allow him to play in two of the games in the U20’s Six Nations – against Ireland in fifth week and Wales in seventh week. This is something that Jones feels is a good compromise between sport and study. “St. Catz have been quite good about giving me the time off. I sat down with my tutor and the Master and we ended up agreeing that if I missed five weeks of this term prior to my part finals in the first week of Trinity term, I would be in a bit of trouble. So we’ve agreed on a happy medium that I would have seven non-consecutive days off so that I would still be able to take part in the six nations but not jeopardize my degree.”
Jones’s achievement in being picked for the U20’s England squad is even more impressive due to the standard of the squad in recent years – two of his teammates from last year, Anthony Watson and Jack Nowell, have now been named in the senior Six Nations squad for the 2014 edition.
Jones is confident of England’s ability to win the U20’s Six Nations, naming them as his favourites. This is unsurprising given the outcome of the last three tournaments. But Jones is also focused on the upcoming U20s World Cup in New Zealand where England will also be defending their title and in particular any role he could play there.
“Part of my ambition being involved in this Six Nations is to stamp my mark on the squad. I’ve got to win a seat on the plane to New Zealand and that is something that will be going through all the boys’ heads.” The trials of combining a degree at Oxford with youth international level sport is something that is clearly not easy. However Jones’s ability to manage it effectively is impressive. His ambition to be playing professional rugby and break into the England team in future years is optimistic but certainly achievable. It’s an exciting time for Gus Jones: few Oxford students can boast such success in both academia and sport.