“Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive. Every morning a lion wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn’t matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be moving.” Roger Bannister
Sport at Oxford is a unique experience. Combining academic rigour with exceptional performances in the sporting arena requires a special kind of dedication. In recognition of Oxford’s finest scholar-athletes, Vincent’s Club Awards provide financial assistance to the most talented sportsmen and sportswomen at the dreaming spires. In a series of Bluebird exclusives, we catch up with these lions and gazelles to learn a little more about what makes them tick.
The Annual Varsity Match is a staple of Oxbridge sport, having been first played in 1872. This was just a few months after the first ever international rugby match between England and Wales. Vincent’s Club is proud to be in a position to support the best athletes with their sporting ambitions at Varsity and internationally. In preparation for the big event on Thursday, we meet the two Rugby Vincent’s Award Holders, Conor Kearns and Will Wilson.
Our first scholar is the physically commanding Back Row for OURFC. One of two Vincent’s scholars to compete on the rugby pitch, Will previously was an academy player with Wasps. On top of this, he is a talented Sevens player, and has represented England both at an U20 level and in a senior capacity.
“My aim is to win caps on the World Series for England during my last year at Oxford.”
Playing for the Blues while at Oxford is Will’s immediate focus, however, with the Varsity match just a few days away.
Will combines his physical presence in the pack with a silky boot, being the reserve kicker for the 2016 Varsity Match. Not all forwards can boast such dexterity!
Will has demonstrated time and time again that he belongs with the best rugby players in Oxford. However, it has not been easy. Will has overcome a very serious injury, dedicating time in the gym to ensure that he can put on that jersey in front of the Twickenham crowd he adores so much.
“Before I put my jersey on I always take a moment to look at the badge, and remind myself why I want to give all I can and the responsibility I hold.”
This epitomises the commitment and pride that the Vincent’s Club Awards aim to recognise. Indeed, this financial support is hugely beneficial in keeping Will performing to the best of his ability.
“The award is phenomenal for me, as it allows me the financial security to focus on rugby throughout the vacation periods”
We look forward to seeing Will give his all on Thursday.
“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power, the greater it will be” Thomas Jefferson
These words hold great meaning for our second rugby scholar, the power behind OURFC this year, Conor Kearns.
Being at the centre of the action has never been a problem for Conor. A utility back, he is capable of playing any of Centre, Fly-Half or Fullback. This year’s OURFC Captain has the weight of Oxford’s hopes on his shoulders as he wears the number 10 shirt, hoping to lead the dark blues to victory.
Not that this bothers him. Conor is a remarkably approachable guy whose thirst for rugby knowledge and marginal gains mean that he really sets the standard for the team around him.
Indeed, on his Christmas list he’s got one item.
“The Lions ‘behind the scenes’ DVD looks incredible!”
Let’s hope the Blues can go one better than the Lions and beat their rivals.
Despite having toured with the USA U23 team, playing for Munster A and representing the USA U20 team at the Junior World Championships in 2013, Conor wears his Crown with great pride.
When asked what his greatest achievement is, he replies without hesitation.
“Becoming captain of OURFC“.
Now this shows the degree to which Conor takes the role as OURFC captain seriously. The winter months have been brutal for the squad, but the team is in its final stages of preparation, ready for the big day on Thursday.
The Vincent’s scholars are expected to demonstrate sporting excellence, strength of character as well as active participation in expanding the reach of sport and using ones expertise for social causes. Interestingly, Conor has worked as an assistant coach to a team of players recently released from a detention centre. Giving these people a chance to play competitively, and imparting his knowledge to them, really helped Conor to use his wisdom.
The award is essential to maintaining Conor’s level of commitment both on and off the field.
“The award is a massive help to my day to day life and ultimately facilitates in part my ability to study here at Oxford. I am truly grateful to Avery Broadbent and the Broadbent family for their generosity.”
One thing is certain, these two will be right at the forefront of Thursday’s action. The Women’s game kicks off at 11:30, followed by the Men at 3:00 pm. It is without doubt one of the most impressive Varsity Match experiences and I’m sure that all athletes from both teams will be extremely grateful for an extra voice. Be sure that you look out for our scholars, Conor and Will.
The Vincent’s Awards
Due to generosity of alumni members and friends, Vincent’s Club is proud to support excellence in Oxford Sport.
Vincent’s Club distributes a total of around £30,000 per year to various outstanding scholar athletes.
The criteria extend beyond the arena of sporting endeavour. The successful applicants have demonstrated strength of character and leadership potential, as well as an interest in broadening participation and a commitment to helping those less fortunate.
A number of the award-holders have already represented their country at an international level, others have the potential to achieve great things in their respective sports.
It is our hope that these funds will continue to attract great athletes to Oxford to maintain and forward the high calibre of Oxford Sport.
To find out more please check out the award page, or if there are any further queries, then feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.