My name is Georgina and I’m a 3rd year lawyer at Downing. I currently play rugby for the Emmanuel/Downing college rugby team and I have been playing for the university rugby team since January this year, playing in the Tigers v Panthers varsity match for Cambridge against Oxford in March.
When I started at Downing two years ago I was really keen to take up rugby as a sport, it was always a sport I’d loved and been a supporter of but not one which I had had much opportunity to play myself before starting university. As a fresher taking on extra-curriculars can seem daunting especially when all your new course information has just been given to you but college rugby was low commitment: only one training session a week and matches started much later on in the term. College rugby was therefore a fantastic way for me to take up the sport not to mention the fact that many of the women on college rugby teams (and in the university squad!) were in the same position I was: never having played rugby before university. Because of this the sport was introduced slowly and skills built up throughout the Michaelmas term. The university also runs development days (which work on the same principle) for the first few weeks of Michaelmas term and were a couple of extra hours a week for those who were keen.
Women’s rugby is one of the smaller sports at the university and as such teams tend to be ‘cluster’ teams meaning they are made up of players from numerous different colleges. The team that Downing women play for is made up of players from Emmanuel, Homerton and Christs as well as Downing. This has two sides to it: naturally as a fresher I was nervous showing up to training for the first time, as not only was I not in the comfort of my own college but also the team was predominantly made up of players from Emmanuel, none of which I knew at the first session. However, the advantage of joining a cluster team is that it gets you meeting people from outside of college that you never would have met otherwise. For me in particular, studying a subject like Law at Downing where I was predominantly taught in Downing with other Downing students, joining the college rugby team really helped break me out of the college ‘bubble’ that I think can sometimes form at Cambridge.
Furthermore, the girls that I met at that first training session were so welcoming and so excited to have another member of the team regardless of what college I was from. Obviously a huge part of college sport is the social element of it and despite not attending the same college as them; many of these girls (or “rugbaes” as we affectionately refer to ourselves and each other) have become some of my closest friends at Cambridge. It has been so lovely to have this fun, kind and supportive group of amazing women as my friends and many of them were the reason I had the confidence to start training with the university team in January.
I thought that the transition into the university team might be intimidating or nerve-wracking but in the build up to the Tigers v Panthers varsity I didn’t find that to be the case at all – the same welcoming environment that I had found at the college level in my first year was true at the university level as well. Rugby is an incredible and exciting sport that I am so glad I have had the opportunity to play during my time at Cambridge. Next year I will be the Colleges Representative and I hope to continue the tradition of women’s college rugby at Cambridge and grow the sport even further!
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