Choral Scholar to play in the The Varsity Match
Choral Scholar Rob Stephen has been selected to play in the Varsity Match at Twickenham this Thursday (6 December).
This traditional rugby fixture between the University of Cambridge and Oxford University is in its 131st year, and Rob is the first King's Choral Scholar since 1940 to play in it.
Speaking about his selection, Rob said: "I was shocked, to be honest. It was a really tight decision between me and other players. But now it's sunk in I'm concentrating on the game ahead like I would any other game."
Rob started playing mini-rugby when he was four and has always tried to balance music and sport. It is a balance he says that is sometimes difficult to maintain, with Choir rehearsals, services and tours, rugby practice for the University team, and academic study.
"Sport and music are things I've done and enjoyed for a long time', he said, 'but it means things are pretty full on at the moment!"
Rob's team mates are generally supportive about his other commitments. "I get a bit of stick for being a choirboy", he said, "but some of them appreciate the challenge of balancing different activities. They came to a service a couple of weeks ago, and that was good because it gave them a glimpse into what else I do."
As for the rest of the Choir, Rob says they find it funny because "I'm the one you'd least imagine to be a rugby player".
Rob is playing full back in Thursday's game, which kicks off two o'clock (see the Varsity Match website). We wish him the best of luck!
Update (6 December): sadly, Oxford won the game 26-19, but Rob was on good form and kicked 14 of Cambridge's points (four penalties and a conversion).
The last King's Choral Scholar to play in the the Varsity Match was Marcus Dods (1918-1984). He won his blue in the 1938 game and played against Oxford again in 1940.
Marcus went on to study at The Royal Academy of Music and developed a successful career as a composer and conductor, particularly in film and television.
He conducted the music for popular films such as Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Watership Down (1978) and Life of Brian (1979). His television work included Doctor Who (1964), The Forsyte Saga (1967) and Life on Earth (1979).