RUFC’s Cambridge University captain Emilia Bushrod is keen to lead her team to victory over Oxford

When asked what it meant to be able to name herself a Varsity Match-winning captain, the thought alone was important enough for Cambridge RUFC’s Emilia Bushrod to initially respond with a sharp breath.

The twice-dissolved Blue have yet to taste defeat in the game, having been part of the 2021 success playing at Leicester Tigers before being involved in a last-minute draw at Twickenham 12 months ago.

Both matches are ones that Bushrod will always remember with fond memories, but there is no doubt that skipping the women’s team to glory on Saturday will be high on the list.

Cambridge captain Emilia Bushrod will play this year's Varsity Showdown at Twickenham.  Photo:
Cambridge captain Emilia Bushrod will play this year’s Varsity Showdown at Twickenham. Photo:

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

“Obviously we have a full season, but he always builds on this particular game. It’s one game and that’s what you work so hard for. Winning the Varsity as captain, knowing how hard the team has worked to get to that point, will be the biggest thing.”

The captain’s role is one that best suited Bushrod, who is studying for a PhD in chemistry at Pembroke College.

She believes the team is traveling home to English rugby in fine form, thanks in part to her deliberate ploy to be transparent since taking over.

“Since Christmas we feel like we’ve created a really good platform,” she added. “I loved the role. It can be stressful but it was such an honor and I feel like a natural leader.

“I was careful 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 players are aware of the hierarchy and we are honest with the players about where they need to improve.

“We were really transparent and that was 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 to have previous Varsity fixture experience.

She hopes they’ll help settle any lingering nerves of those who will be making their debut.

“We have a good mix of experienced and beginners,” she added.

“We have the Blues in the group who are going to play for the fourth time and have been there and done that.

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

“Emotion levels will always be high for games like this, but I trust our experience will count to something.”

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