Oxford University’s rugby team bagged new fans at Friday’s big match against the Army, inviting residents from their local Leonard Cheshire home to watch the men’s Blues record an impressive 31-0 victory at Iffley Road.
Matt Barton, a rugby fan and wheelchair user, lives at Agnes Court care home in Banbury, managed by disability charity Leonard Cheshire. He said: “We really enjoyed the game. We got a very warm reception and the players were really friendly. We’re looking forward to the next Oxford game!”
Matt was one of three Agnes Court residents cheering Oxford to a convincing win against the Army. Winger Tom Stileman scored an excellent hat-trick, bookended by tries from forwards George Messum and Charlie Pozniak.
All residents at the match got behind Oxford and will do so again when they take on big rivals Cambridge at Twickenham this year. Leonard Cheshire has been a charity partner of the Varsity Match since 2014.
Oxford men’s captain Ed David, 24, a medical student at St Hilda’s College, said: “It’s really important that we recognise the good work that Leonard Cheshire does and it was great to have support from the guys at Agnes Court. I’m happy they saw a win. We know that as a team we have things to work on, but it was a good victory and a good defensive effort to keep the Army from scoring. ”
Women’s captain Hazel Ellender, 21, came along to support the men and talk to residents, inviting them to Oxford Women against Cardiff University on Wednesday. Hazel, who plays at loosehead prop, is studying an MPhil in Classical Indian Religion at St Cross College.
Hazel said: “It was really nice to spend some more time with people, get to know them and welcome them to our home. We’ve really built a strong partnership now and it will be great to see them next week’s game and at the Varsity Match too.”
The Dark Blues’ generous invitation to residents continues the longstanding links between Oxford University and Leonard Cheshire. Charity founder Group Captain Leonard Cheshire was an Oxford graduate who became a war hero and a global humanitarian, supporting thousands of disabled people in the UK and worldwide.
The players will visit Agnes Court in Banbury this November, then residents will head to Twickenham on Thursday 12 December as Oxford men and women take on age-old foes Cambridge in the Varsity Match.
Leonard Cheshire, as a charity partner of the Varsity match, will benefit from funds that support care homes like Agnes Court as well as community projects, internship schemes and global education programmes.
Joining fans from Agnes Court at the home of rugby will be several Leonard Cheshire customers from around the country, all eagerly awaiting the Varsity double-header. The women’s match kicks off at 11.30am, followed by the men’s match at 3pm.
The Varsity man of the match will receive the Alastair Hignell medal, named after the former England international and Varsity record points scorer. Hignell, 64, who has multiple sclerosis, is a Leonard Cheshire ambassador.