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Charlie Watson to put leadership skills to the test for Cambridge University RUFC

Charlie Watson in action for Cambridge University this summer. Picture: Keith Heppell
Charlie Watson in action for Cambridge University this summer. Picture: Keith Heppell

Charlie Watson is seeking to use on-field leadership skills to help off-field after being elected Cambridge University RUFC men’s captain.

The 21-year-old Selwyn College natural sciences student will skipper the Light Blues in a landmark year, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the club.

Watson, who is on the books of Premiership side Saracens and played for them against Ulster in pre-season, has so far earned one Blue, in the 2019 Varsity Match win at Twickenham.

“It’s a massive honour, especially being the 150th year,” said Watson.

“It’s a lot to live up to from previous captains, but I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a big challenge, a little bit daunting, but I can’t wait.

“I tend to find myself in positions where I do lead the boys on the pitch and I think that comes more naturally to me. With the off-field leadership and being involved with how the rugby club works, I thought that would be a big challenge which I would like to take on.

“I thought it would be a new experience for me, so I want to see where I can take the club.”

There will be a semblance of a return to normal with the Varsity Match heading back to Twickenham after a sojourn at Leicester Tigers, but it will be hosted in the spring of 2022.

“We’ve got two terms this year which, in my opinion, will be a lot better because it will allow us to rotate and see our best combinations in the squad and hopefully we won’t miss anybody,” said Watson.

“I think it is a lot better for us going forward because we’re not too rushed going into the big game.”

As the new intake waits to arrive at Cambridge, there will be plenty of familiar faces back at Grange Road from the last few years. That includes the recently-appointed secretaries and treasurer, George Cook, Iham Kasem and Ben Jackson.

“We’ve still got Stevie (Leonard) at No 8 who will hopefully lead the pack,” said Watson.

“We’ve got Archie Smeaton who didn’t play last year due to Scotland under-20s but it will be good to have him back again in the pack.

“We’ve got quite a few returning front five as well. In the backs, we’ve got myself, Suwi Chibale and we’ve also got some new exciting talent coming through so it’s looking good.

“It’s about the values and the way in which we should act around each other, and you need people who have done it before to be able to show the new people.”

Watson, who has played for England under-20s, missed Cambridge’s Varsity Match defeat in the adapted game against Oxford in July because of a head injury, which led to the air ambulance being called to Grange Road. But it did help to give him an insight into the off-field demands.

“It was a massive shame, but it is what it is – health is more important,” said Watson. “It was gutting to miss out, but it definitely allowed me to put my toe in and experience a little bit of the off-field stuff and see what goes on behind the scenes.”

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