Womenâ€™s Varsity Rugby Match at Twickenham (part 2)
by Alice Middleton on 25 February 2016
In my last entry we had got to the players’ tunnel, with the Women’s rugby squad warmed up and ready to get out and stamp our authority on the biggest fixture of the year, the varsity match at Twickenham.
I’m going to make a concerted effort to put fewer exclamation marks in this one, although that may be a challenge so perhaps I should just apologise in advance …!
We run out onto the pitch and the feeling isn’t like anything I’ve experienced before, a unique mixture of nerves, excitement and disbelief all jumbled in a tight ball in my stomach. I am still beaming at this stage, not the most intimidating game face I’ll admit, but this is a pretty special moment and I just want to take it all in!
As per the days strict schedule we line up as a squad for the national anthem, like you see on the telly! I go for it with some passion, but I am really glad not many people could hear me. I actually made myself laugh a little mid anthem (because of my awful voice), but it was a proud moment all the same.
This is the last moment for a while where I allow myself to take in Twickenham, in all its glory, from here on we’re in game mode. As with any sport, you have to be in the right place mentally when you play, and in rugby a lack of concentration is likely to be painful. So I flick my subconscious switch, and it’s just another rugby game.
We kick off to them, but I was pleased to get the ball fairly soon after that from a return kick, my first chance for a run against the Oxford girls which brings me some confidence and I can feel Cambridge settling into the game. Our first scrum is a big one and it feels like we will be dominant on this front which is always great to see, and the next 15 minutes or so feel promising. Some well worked play put me on the end of a pass right in front of the try line and over I dive- we have a try! I got a try! At Twickenham! All the girls run over and we share the happy moment, we’re off to the Varsity start we need.
I am also on converting duties today- not something I have masses of experience at, but I have done it before and have of course been practicing in the lead up. I haven’t yet developed a weird looking routine like Johnny Wilkinson or Dan Biggar, it’s a simple run up and swing, and to my relief it flies over the posts! I also notice myself up on the big screen at this stage, pretty cool!
The match continues, but we remain confident and seem to have the edge. By half time its 12-0 to us, with fellow Lucy Cavendish student, Lara Gibson getting a cracking try in! We spend half time on the pitch and talk through some things we want to work on in the second half and before long we’re back out there.
The second half is a wonderful blur of Cambridge dominance and tries! By the end of it myself and inside centre Anna Wilson have got hat-tricks and most of the kicks have gone over the posts, it’s Cambridge 52-0 Oxford! We’re minutes away from the final whistle and a voice comes across the stadium to announce the “player of the match is Alice Middleton!” I notice the cheer from the crowd and I just cannot believe this is real life.
Minutes later the final whistle blows and we have officially done it, all that hard work and preparation has paid off in wonderful style and we’ve got ourselves a historic Varsity victory!
I’ve done it again, written more than planned and, let me just check, yep 13 exclamation marks. If you’ll have me back for part 3 I’ll tell you about the rest of our day in Twickenham and the happy days that followed…