We asked our alumni to share their memories of The Varsity Matches ahead of the forthcoming 150 years of The Varsity Match celebration on Saturday 2nd April.

Maggie Simpson, MBA 2020-21

Competing for Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club (CURUFC) while earning my MBA degree was the culmination of a lifetime of athletic, academic, and professional achievements. I’ve always loved teams – working with others to achieve a higher goal is both energising and exciting.

At Cambridge, I was pushed by my peers to perform at the highest level in all domains. Supported by my friends, my college (Hughes Hall), my CURUFC coaches, and the business network around me, I didn’t have to choose between becoming a semi-business expert in quantum computing and mastering the tackle from a ruck. Both MBA programmes and rugby clubs are traditionally male dominated spaces, but the enthusiastically supportive atmosphere at Cambridge gave me the platform to lead, conquer, and stand tall among my peers. 

I found my family at Cambridge among my MBA classmates and my CURUFC teammates.  Watching and cheering on their successes is inspiring, and I can’t wait to exhaust my lungs chanting when CURUFC shows up in a big way on Match day. This team lives within me, and I work to embody the Cambridge conquering spirit in my current business activities. 

Sam Isaacs, MBA 2020-21

It was a huge privilege for me to play for Cambridge, particularly given the history that surrounds The Varsity Match and earning a Blue. Growing up it was always an ambition of mine to play in The Varsity Match, having watched many matches both on TV and in person. This was definitely part of my selection criteria when looking at Cambridge to read for my MBA.

Being part of CURUFC added a completely different dimension to my time on the Cambridge MBA. I was able to mix with the wider University community, which I believe led to me having a much broader experience.

Looking back, despite the result, The Varsity Match I competed in was a fantastic experience and certainly a memory I will never forget. From selection two weeks prior, all the way up to the final whistle, it is an exceptionally special experience and one I treasure massively. This was certainly exacerbated by the difficulties that the Pandemic imposed, and brought me closer to many of my teammates

I was fortunate enough to attend the 150 year dinner held at The Hawks Club in Cambridge in December. It was great to see such diversity across the board. In these moments you really appreciate how special the club is, and what having a ‘Blue’ means. Since then I’ve worked with and met up with a number of CURUFC/Hawks Club Alumni, and I look forward to seeing even more at Twickenham in April.

Etienne Dussartre, MBA 2020-21

Reflecting on my time in Cambridge playing for CURUFC I would say:

The opportunity to play the Varsity for Cambridge was definitely one of the main reasons why I decided to apply to my MBA at Cambridge.

An MBA offered an ideal transition for me. After a professional career in rugby in France, it was fantastic to be able to still play once more to a great standard while pursuing a degree at Cambridge at the same time.

I met a lot of people, studying a wide variety of subjects, many of them became really good friends.

I now feel honoured to be part of CURUFC as well as The Hawks club. I heard I am only the second French player to play The Varsity and the first for Cambridge.

Obviously, with the pandemic, last year the Varsity was not quite what I was aiming for, both because of Covid and it was also a very disappointing result for the Men’s team. But I still have a great memory within my playing career so far because of the amazing traditions across the University and the CURUFC rugby club, as well as the heritage of the game and the Varsity Match, in particular.

Finally I would say I really enjoyed being back in Cambridge in November last year, but this time to play against CURUFC with the Steele-Bodger’s team and in the famous Steele-Bodger Match.

It was fantastic to be able to play again at the grounds at Grange Road, and on that occasion with such a big crowd.

The Varsity Match takes place Saturday 2nd April at Twickenham – https://thevarsitymatches.com/

Maggie Simpson scoring a winning try in July 2021 at The Varsity Match.