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Richard Sharp playing Rugby for Oxford University

Richard Sharp leads all-star cast for OURFC’s 150th

Rugby icons, war heroes, Russian royalty and heads of state have shared their life stories in a book celebrating 150 Years of rugby at Oxford University.

England legend Richard Sharp, New Zealand Rugby World Cup winner David Kirk, ex-Springbok coach Nick Mallett and former Secretary of the RFU, Dudley Wood, are among the storytellers from the rugby fraternity.

The book was commissioned by Oxford University RFC and written by Rugby journal editor Alex Mead, and features key figures from both the men’s and women’s game telling stories from their lives before, during and after their time with the club.

Nick Mallett

It includes figures from politics such as former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott – who discusses his rugby and boxing days – and Lord Butler, who was private secretary to five British Prime Ministers, and talks about being in the same room as Margaret Thatcher when the Brighton bomb went off. Princess Alexandra Obolensky, niece of the late Prince Alexander Obolensky also contributes stories of her uncle.

a living account of the players who have made the club what it is

First-person accounts of historic tours and matches are also included such as Richard Winn discussing the challenge of touring Japan in 1952 with a touring party of former military personnel. Fullback Mike Heal also vividly recalls the atmosphere around the controversial tour of South Africa in 1969 and how his two kicks helped Oxford famously defeat the Springboks 6-3.

Heather Lawrence and Tony Abbott

The genesis of women’s rugby at Oxford is also covered with pioneer Heather Lawrence recounting the role she played in the first-ever women’s Varsity Match, with former Rugby World Cup finalist Sue Day, Scottish international Victoria Blakebrough and Richmond’s Tess Braunerova also telling their tales.

Sir Ivor Roberts, President, Oxford University RFC, said of the book. “Alex Mead’s book is no dry chronology, replete only with facts and figures. It is a living account of the players who have made the club what it is. Their stories make fascinating reading and bring alive earlier ages of the game more vividly than conventional histories.”

Others to feature include the 2019 captains Hazel Ellender and Ed David, Olympic silver medallist Tom Mitchell, record-breaking captain John Carter, South African brothers Dugald and Donald Macdonald, American football superstar Pete Dawkins, England international Simon Halliday and British & Irish Lions Hugo MacNeill and Brendan Mullin.

Only 1,000 copies of the individually numbered hardback book have been printed and can be ordered

Richard Sharp

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