Varsity Match 2022: Brother and sister Charlie and Hetta are the best of Friends creating history for Cambridge University
Charlie and Hetta Friend will make Jefferies Varsity Match history this Saturday (April 2) when they line up for Cambridge University to face Oxford University at Twickenham.
They will become the first brother and sister to earn Blues in the Varsity Match, let alone in the same year at the same university.
It will be a first Blue for 23-year-old Charlie, who is a fourth year engineering student at St John’s College, and a second for 22-year-old Hetta, a fourth-year medic at Robinson College who played on the wing in Cambridge’s 10-5 win last year at Leicester Tigers under adapted laws.
The siblings will start in the second row of their respective sides.
“We didn’t really think about it because obviously there have been the Shuttleworths, and I think Oxford have a couple of brothers. And we’ve both been individually working hard trying to get in,” said Charlie.
He took up the sport 15 years ago at Stoke Rugby Club, having been enticed by a ‘Your Club Needs You’ poster, whereas Hetta is a much more recent convert to rugby union.
She had played lacrosse and was singing in the choir at Jesus College, but had watched the Varsity Match in 2018 and then in 2019.
“I wasn’t allowed to go to the Varsity Match in 2019 because we had a choir concert so I was streaming it in the church,” Hetta said.
“They won and that was the day that I confirmed my decision to quit choir in my second year and take up rugby in my third year. Mum wasn’t very happy about it!”
During the lockdown in 2020, they were training together back at home, and it was in the Summer Term of 2021 that Hetta made swift progress to earn selection for the Varsity Match.
“After playing for 15 years, then she turns up and gets one after eight weeks of training!” said Charlie.
“Fifteen months after I started S&C!” Hetta swiftly replied.
Charlie said: “I arrived at uni and I was just a tall, lanky fresher.
“I was not in the physical shape to possibly even consider being in the Blues, and it’s taken me all this time to finally get to be an athlete who is then able to play in the second row for the Blues rather than an 82kg fresher.”
Hetta added: “For me, it was just the excitement for Charlie because I know how hard he has worked at it.
“I’ve worked hard at all the sports I’ve played throughout my whole life and that has been a contributing factor to getting on the team for the women’s game. It was one of the proudest moments of my life to play last year, and to play this year, and actually feel like I’m going to make a bigger impact, I’m really excited.”
It will be a family day out, with Charlie and Hetta’s parents inviting inviting friends and cousins to attend, and it will be particularly special for their father, Ed.
“To be the first brother and sister, as far as we’re aware, is just quite a nice thing, more so for our parents than even for us, especially for our dad, who was an athletics Blue at Cambridge,” said Charlie.
“He has always been super proud of us for sporting achievements.”
Hetta added: “It has always been his dream for one of us to get a Blue so for both of us to get one in the same year at the same venue on the same day is pretty cool.”