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Varsity Match 2023: Cambridge University RUFC captain Emilia Bushrod eager to lead her side to victory over Oxford

Asked what it would mean to be able to call herself a Varsity Match-winning captain, the thought alone was significant enough for Cambridge University RUFC’s Emilia Bushrod to initially respond with a sharp intake of breath.

The two-time Blue is yet to taste defeat in the fixture, having been part of the 2021 success played at Leicester Tigers before going on to feature in the last-gasp draw at Twickenham 12 months ago.

Both outings are ones that Bushrod will always look back on with fond memories, but there is no doubt that skippering the women’s side to glory on Saturday would top the lot.

Emilia Bushrod will captain Cambridge in this year’s Varsity clash at Twickenham. Picture: davidjohnsonphotographic.co.uk
Emilia Bushrod will captain Cambridge in this year’s Varsity clash at Twickenham. Picture: davidjohnsonphotographic.co.uk

She said: “It’s hard not to think about it (winning the game against Oxford). It’s everything to us as a team.

“Obviously we have a whole season but it’s always building to this particular match. It’s one match and this is what you work so hard for. Winning the Varsity as captain, knowing how hard the team have worked to get to this point, it would be the biggest thing.”

The role of captain is one that suits Bushrod, who is studying for a PhD in chemistry at Pembroke College.

She believes the squad travel to the home of English rugby in good shape, thanks in part to her deliberate transparency ploy since taking on the position.

“Since Christmas we feel like we’ve created a really good platform,” she added. “I’ve loved the role. It can be stressful but it’s been a massive honour and I feel like I’m a natural leader.

“I was keen to keep everything as simple and clear as possible. The team sheet goes up on the same day of the week at the same time, the kickers are aware of the hierarchy and we’re honest with the players about where they need to improve.

“We’ve been really transparent and that has been the main ethos of the whole group. Everyone knows where they stand.”

Bushrod will be one of eight players in the Cambridge starting line-up that has previous experience of Varsity fixtures.

And she is hopeful that they will help to settle any lingering nerves within those that will be making their debuts.

“We’ve got a good mix between experience and newbies,” she added.

“We have Blues in the group who will be playing for the fourth time and they’ve been there and done it.

“Our experience can help to keep others calm because it’s daunting the first time. It’s a big crowd, a much bigger pitch than we normally play on and it’s easy to get carried away, but it’s our job to bring them back to reality.

“Emotion levels are always going to be high for games like this but I’m confident our experience will count for something.”

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