Current student Elin Isaac, Modern History and Politics (2021), was part of the winning team for the Dark Blues at Twickenham on Saturday 25 March. We asked her what it’s like playing rugby at this level.

You were on the women’s Dark Blues team for the 2023 Varsity rugby match.  First, congratulations for being on the team and also for your win!  Second, can you tell us a bit about the commitment and work needed to get you to this point?

The blues have training and gym sessions multiple times a week which players are encouraged to attend. The team has also been part of the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) which means matches are played most Wednesdays both home and away. It’s therefore quite a commitment but the coaches and team are also very understanding of other commitments that players might have. A lot of the work comes from developing individual skills and then the training sessions are more about practising contact putting the game together as a team. 

How do you balance a Blues commitment with your degree work?

I think as blues sports go, rugby is incredibly social, and a lot of players find it a welcome break from their work. The training sessions are usually in the evening which fits in well with contact hours and other commitments. Again, the coaches are very understanding of everyone’s schedules and don’t demand too much. Also, the workload as a second year hasn’t been too difficult and I think many people enjoy playing a sport alongside their degree. 

What is the hardest part about playing at this level?  And the best?

The blues have had a great BUCS season and there are a lot of really talented players so it can be very competitive, especially in the run up to Varsity. That being said, the club has a really friendly and welcoming environment and it’s been so good to learn and improve from so many experienced players.

What advice do you have for someone considering giving women’s rugby a go?

I would really encourage anyone interested to get involved with OURFC – I had played some tag rugby as a kid but had never done contact until I started at Oxford last year. The club is so friendly and welcoming to all newcomers and blues sessions run alongside panthers and dev squad training and cater to all abilities. A lot of the women playing in the blues only took rugby up at uni and I think that shows that anyone can get involved regardless of their previous experience. 

Varsity Rugby 2023: women's team celebrating the win.