A 22-year-old Corkman will this afternoon be part of one of English rugby’s most greatest rivalries when Oxford and Cambridge clash at Twickenham in the famed Varsity Match (2pm kick-off).
Charlie O’Sullivan from Caherlag, a postgraduate student at Cambridge University, is named on the bench for a fixture, which will bring 30,000 to London and will be televised live by Sky Sports. Unsurprisingly, O’Sullivan is struggling to grasp the enormity of the occasion.
“My Dad, brother, cousins, uncles and aunts are all coming over — the whole crew, so it should be an amazing experience and a great atmosphere. It’s going to be incredibly loud and a lot of the players won’t ever have played in front of that kind of a crowd before — myself included. It’ll be a bit of a childhood dream running out in Twickenham,” he added.
O’Sullivan, who started his MA in primary school teaching in September, spent three years on the Midleton College Senior Cup team before moving across the water to the University of Bath to study an undergraduate degree in sports performance.
There, he captained the rugby team to league and cup honours. Though the versatile blindside flanker will be on the bench this afternoon, he has started 10 of the team’s 12 games this season.
“It’s probably the highest level I’ve played so far. At the start, it took a while to get going because there’s 20 new guys from different backgrounds but there’s a few ex-professionals who have played in South Africa and New Zealand, so there’s a few really high quality players — guys who have played in English academies as well. Then the quality of opposition in pre-season was something else — we’ve played Saracens and Northampton.”
Those experiences should have him well primed for this afternoon, but with bragging rights the main prize on offer, he knows they mustn’t lose their focus against a team they’re programmed to hate.
“We’re not supposed to like them very much,” he laughs. “We get told about the rivalry as soon as we step in the door. There’s a lot of slagging between the colleges — the GDBO they’re known as… ‘God Damn Bloody Oxford’, you get told not to like them and you build up to it but after the game, you shake hands and everything’s fine but up until now we haven’t talked to them, so there’ll be a bit of a stare-off today.”
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