“To our Vaaaarsity…… Up the Students!” is rarely heard bellowing out of rugby grounds in December but there is another University match, on the hallowed turf of Twickenham, that has seen many young athletes swap the blue and gold SUFC hoops for a dark or light blue jersey. It is, of course, the Oxford vs Cambridge match.
The most recent of these was in December when Oxford thrashed Cambridge to achieve an Oxford record 5 consecutive victories. The side was captained by Jacob Taylor – a former SUFC player, Australian 7’s representative and Rhodes Scholar – who became the sixth Australian skipper in 12 seasons (including another SUFC stalwart - Nick Haydon in 2010).
Quick quiz – Which club is older? Sydney University Rugby Club or Oxford University Rugby Football Club.
Jacob, like many current and former SUFC representatives, is a fascinating blend of athlete and academic. He speaks fluent Mandarin, is studying Cognitive Evolutionary Anthropology and co-authored a submission to the white paper "Australia in the Asian Century". His studies will take him to China later this year and this will likely preclude him from seeking a record 6th victory in a row.
He is also humble about his abilities and achievements. Speaking after the victory he was quick to defer to the quality of his teammates and the power of team culture. “I remember after a hill session we did with the Oxford team, sitting down in a church and talking about what made us weak…… what made us vulnerable. We had the kind of environment that was conducive to opening up and understanding each other. There was a willingness to treat each other as more than a rugby player.”
Jacob is a wonderful example of the type of person SUFC continues to attract and develop and thankfully it doesn’t look like he is lost to the world of rugby. After a semester in China he will return to Oxford in 2016 and will “see how the body is” before deciding if he can do another stint on the field. If not, there is always the option to coach the Chinese women’s 7’s side to an Olympic medal...
Jacob is certainly a young man to keep an eye on.
Quiz answer – SUFC is older (founded in 1863). OURFC was founded in 1869.