“Hopefully we come flying out the blocks and smash Oxford”: five Wolfson rugby stars prepare for the Varsity match

Wolfson College's rugby stars

This weekend, five Wolfson students will represent the University in another highly anticipated Varsity match against Oxford University at Twickenham.

Wolfson College's rugby stars

Phoebe Jackson (MPhil Polar Studies) is in the team as fly half for CURUFC Women on Saturday 25 March; while there are four Wolfson College students in the squad for the men’s match, the joint most selected from any Cambridge college.  

Prop Angus Peters (PhD Engineering), Second Row Bryon Hodge (MSt Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment), Back Row Christian Stehlik (MPhil Real Estate Finance), and Hooker Ben Mills (MAST Maths) are all selected for the men’s match, which also kicks off this Saturday at Twickenham.

Playing at the home of English rugby

The Varsity rugby matches against Oxford stretch back to 1872, when the first men’s game was played, while the first women’s match took place in 1988. It is a series filled with tradition and is often described as the ultimate ambition for any rugby player at Cambridge.

“Very few people get to play at the historic home of English rugby,” says Angus. “The chance to play there will be immense, I always knew this would be my last season playing rugby, so to bow out at Twickenham is a dream come true for anyone”.

The sentiment is shared by Phoebe, who – like Angus – first started playing rugby as a five-year-old.

“It goes without saying that playing fly-half for CURUFC at Twickenham in the Varsity match is certainly going to be a once in a lifetime experience,” she says. 

Even Christian Stehlik, who hails from rugby-mad South Africa and played for Cape Town University 1st XV from 2018 to 2021, agrees this is a special moment.

“Despite having played rugby at a relatively high level,” he says, “running out at Twickenham will most definitely be the highlight of my career thus far.”

Predictions for Saturday

The men’s team are coming off two consecutive losses in 2022 and 2021, and so there is extra incentive this weekend to prevent an Oxford threepeat. But what are we to expect?

“Hopefully we come flying out the blocks and smash Oxford,” says Ben, who played for Enfield Ignatians prior to Cambridge. “But it'll probably be a really tight contest. We've got such a strong side this year, though, that I think we'll edge it.”

Ben’s confidence is shared by teammate Christian: “Predicting the outcomes of these massive sporting events is always difficult,” he says. “However, I believe that our side has trained extremely hard to get to where we currently are, and it’s coming together at the perfect time. I expect it to be a physical and gritty match, but believe that Twickenham is going to be light blue on the 25th of March.”

The women’s team have had more recent success, and in fact have not lost a Varsity match since 2016. Every year, however, is different.

“In all honesty, I don’t know what to expect,” says Phoebe. “It will be an experience like I’ve never had before. The girls have been training intensely and are ready to bring their all. The improvement we’ve made throughout this season has been immense and I can’t wait to see all of our hard work pay off. Oxford doesn’t know what’s coming.” 

Wolfson becoming a sporting “powerhouse”

The number of Wolfson rugby stars selected this year is, says Angus, a new College benchmark: “To my knowledge, this is the most students Wolfson has ever had selected,” he says.

And it’s not just rugby where sporting success can be found. For Angus, the College is becoming something of a sporting “powerhouse”.

“Over recent years, Wolfson has attracted some excellent sporting talent,” he says. “This year is an especially good one for Wolfson sport. The rowing team have been performing exceptionally well; in Fran Steele, we have the women’s football captain in our College; we have a very strong rugby presence; and that’s just scratching the surface.”

“Yeah, I've met lots of people from a range of sports this year,” agrees Ben, “and it's really cool to see them working hard all year round.”

But where does this success come from? “It could be down to more mature students being attracted to Wolfson,” says Angus, “which can bring players with more experience.”

Phoebe is quick to offer another view: “Angus thinks there’s something in the water this year,” she says, “I think there’s something in the brunch hash browns.”

Find out more about the Varsity matches

You can find out more about how to attend the Varsity matches on our event page.

And you can discover more information and find out how and where to stream the matches on the Varsity Matches website.

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