Womenâ€™s Varsity Rugby Match at Twickenham (part 1)
by Alice Middleton on 18 February 2016
Varsity Rugby Match at Twickenham - 10th Decemeber 2015 (part 1)
It’s the 10th December and I find myself at the home of English rugby, Twickenham stadium (where New Zealand successfully won the ultimate prize in rugby just weeks earlier), in fact I’m standing in the tunnel! The actual players’ tunnel of the stadium that I tried, and failed, to get tickets to visit to watch the Rugby World Cup!
My name is Alice Middleton, I am a student on the Graduate Medicine course here at Lucy Cavendish and this post describes probably the most exciting day of my life so far, when I played in this year’s Women’s Varsity Rugby Match!
The Men’s Varsity Match has a 134-year history, and has been at Twickenham stadium since 1921. For the women, this year marked the 29th Varsity Match, and significantly was the first one to be hosted at Twickenham Stadium along with the men, with live coverage on the BBC!
Every year sports teams around the university train day in, day out for varsity matches, and the rugby team has been no different for the last few months. Training, gym and fitness sessions have been intense, and rugby has become every other thought I have had for weeks!
Twickenham has added yet another layer to this, in the build up to the match we’ve had interviews for articles and filming for promotional videos, I’ve seen national newspaper coverage of the match and we have visited Twickenham twice; once for a ‘Media day’ with a press conference and a stadium tour, and the other time for the ‘Challenge’. This is a traditional event which takes place on the pitch at half time of an international match; the captain of the losing team from the previous year’s Varsity match ‘challenges’ the opposing captain to this year’s Varsity… my life has taken a weird yet wonderful turn!
For the Varsity match we had travelled to London the day before and stayed overnight in a hotel, around 20 minutes away from the stadium. The evening before was a mixture of strategy meetings/ physio/ socialising and attempts at relaxation… it was definitely one of the more nervous evenings I’ve had, but also an exciting one, and having the rest of my team mates there made for a great atmosphere. I would love to point out at this stage that I was sharing a room with fellow Lucy Cavendish vet student Lara Gibson! We both joined the squad at the beginning of the 2015/16 season, having had a year out following near-enough identical knee surgery (what are the chances?!). At the risk of getting cheesey… we’ve shared a bit of a journey together so she was the perfect room buddy!
And back to the day itself; we’ve had a successful warm up on pitch whilst people start filling in the stadium, then we went back to the changing rooms to get our match shirts on (specifically made for this match!!). We nipped to the front of the stadium for a professional squad photo then finally had some final motivational words from our captain, Nikki Weckman.
I actually needed a quick word with the team physios about my right quad during all this, it has been a bit of a problem lately and is feeling tight this morning- Megan Williams, one of our club physios was at hand to advise and massage.
Hotels, bespoke shirts, physio on demand… I hope you can appreciate how I felt this was getting a bit ridiculous (in a good way!!), perhaps a taste of what it might just be like to play professional sports? If ever there is a time for me to play to the best of my ability surely it’ll be today!
All in all I’m feeling ready to get out there and smash Ox*ord.
To be continued...