Cambridge University RUFC visited The Manor, a residential care home for disabled adults in Brampton run by charity Leonard Cheshire, to meet residents and talk about the upcoming Varsity Match against big rivals Oxford RFC.
Players from the men’s and women’s team chatted to all residents on Tuesday 1 October, including some big rugby fans who will attend the annual Varsity Match at Twickenham. The players presented residents with a signed Cambridge shirt and rugby ball. The Cambridge left-winger, law student and talented singer Hannah Samuels was encouraged to sing a moving, a cappella rendition of the Leonard Cohen classic, Hallelujah.
Isabella Wiltshire lives at The Manor and will be supporting the Light Blues of Cambridge against the Dark Blues of Oxford. Isabella said: “Everyone was really friendly and thoughtful. It was great chat to them, find out about them as people and of course to hear about the Varsity Match!”
Women’s team captain Fiona Shuttleworth thoroughly enjoyed the visit. Fiona, 23, is studying Veterinary Medicine at Pembroke College. The Welsh skipper looks set to start at number 7, with her twin Jenni returning at number 6 after the sisters from Swansea starred in the last two Varsity victories at Twickenham. Fiona said: “It’s been a fantastic day. It seemed like the residents really enjoyed it too. Just chatting and getting to know them was wonderful.”
Men’s team winger Joseph Story is studying Engineering at Trinity College. He said: “It was a really enjoyable experience. We’ve met some lovely people and it was great to spend time with them. It’s really good that people are giving the team their backing and some residents are coming down to the Varsity Match. The support for Cambridge will really help us on the field.”
This year’s Varsity Match will take place on Thursday 12 December. Leonard Cheshire, a charity partner of the Varsity match since 2014, will benefit from funds raised by the game. Founded in 1948 by the war hero and global humanitarian Leonard Cheshire, the charity supports thousands of disabled people with high-quality care, community projects, education programmes and internship schemes.
Tracey Hardwick, Deputy Manager at The Manor, said: “It’s been a fantastic day. The residents clearly loved it and it was great to have the Cambridge players back here at The Manor.”
Joining fans from The Manor at the home of rugby will be several Leonard Cheshire customers from around the UK, all eagerly awaiting the Varsity double-header. The women’s match kicks off at 11.30am, followed by the men’s match at 3pm. Cambridge women will look to build on successive wins and Cambridge men will look to avenge last year’s defeat.
The Varsity man of the match will receive the Alastair Hignell medal, named after the former England international and Cambridge men’s captain. Hignell, 64, who has multiple sclerosis, is a Leonard Cheshire ambassador.
The Cambridge men’s team is set to feature two international stars in the second row, with former Australia captain and Harlequin James Horwill and former South African lock Flip van der Merwe. The Light Blues’ illustrious forwards, both 34, are both starting an Executive MBA at Judge Business School, Queens’ College.