- Former England Sevens captain Phillips to play in the Varsity Match
- It will be his final rugby match. Buy tickets here.
- The men's Varsity Match will kick off at 3pm. Women's match kicks off at 11.30am.
‘The perfect ending’ is what former England Sevens captain Ollie Phillips is hoping for as he runs out for Cambridge University in the 136th edition of Varsity Match this week.
Phillips will call time on his career following the match on Thursday, seventeen years after running out at Twickenham for the first time.
Of course, leaving the pitch on the winning side is Phillips’ main aim but to even be playing at Twickenham again means a great deal to him.
“Playing my final match at Twickenham isn’t just the icing on the cake or the cherry on top, it’s the whole cake,” says 34-year-old Phillips.
“In terms of how excited I am to play, this match is right up there with some of the highlights of my career. It feels like closure for me, the perfect ending despite some hiccups along the way.”
Who says that #dreams don’t come true! Yesterday I #achieved something that I have dreamt about for 17 years. #Cambridge #University #captain @charlieamesbury presented me with my light blue blazer, for being a member of this year’s @varsitymatch— Ollie Phillips (@OlliePhillips11) December 2, 2017
Means… https://t.co/PIdT3CzN38 pic.twitter.com/HvWBKKAxTu
Highlights and Hiccups
It could have all ended up quite differently for Phillips. He came close to joining Cambridge after leaving Durham University but was offered a playing contract with Newcastle Falcons.
That led him on a professional career that took him all over the world, including stints at Gloucester and Stade Français as well as England Sevens.
He was named World Sevens Player of the Year in 2009 before an injury brought his professional career to an end in 2013. He wasn’t sure he’d ever get the chance to play again.
“From a young age I’ve always wanted to do this but it didn’t quite happen for me when I was younger.
“And then when I got my injury in 2013 and thought that was it. To have the chance again now is incredible.”
Becoming a Blue
He has been busy ever since ending his professional career, sailing around the world and trekking across the arctic before enrolling at Cambridge to study for an Executive MBA.
The prospect of combining his degree with a getting involved with CURUFC was the perfect opportunity.
“It is a very unique team. You spend a few months building this really special bond with the players and it is all geared towards once match, the holy grail.”
“We are driven to win but we maintain that amateur, student rugby ethos. Being part of that history and heritage is fantastic and I love everything that goes with this game.”
Cambridge arrive at Twickenham on Thursday hoping to make it two wins on the bounce having ended Oxford’s run of six consecutive wins last year.
“The pressure has shifted this season, it is now on us to build our own record and I don’t think we’re far away from doing something really special," says Phillips.
Returning to HQ
Beating New Zealand in 2009 to win the London Sevens remains Phillips’ Twickenham highlight but should Cambridge come away with a win this Thursday, it could well top even that.
“I remember playing there when I was 17 for Harlequins in the Middlesex Sevens and the magic of the place gripped me.
"I have some amazing memories of being there, it is an iconic stadium and on a personal level, to bring my story to a close at Twickenham is fitting.
"That would be it for me. But I always wanted my final chapter to finish here. It is exactly how I envisaged ending my career.”
Oxford stand in the way of Phillips’ dream ending but regardless of result, he will hang up his boots on Thursday a happy man having had the chance to play once more at the place where it all began.