Twickenham-local Sam ready for long-awaited opportunity

  • 17 March 2023

Samuel Odu (Human, Social and Political Sciences 2020) grew up within sight of Twickenham and has long dreamed of running out on to the fabled turf. Now he is set to get his opportunity in the Varsity match on Saturday 25 March.

Sam was brought up in Hanworth, just two miles from Twickenham, which will host the Varsity match between Cambridge University and Oxford University. Tickets are available online.

“I’ve been to Twickenham a few times as a spectator and playing there is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Sam says.

“It’s a big event and being part of it will be surreal, given at university level you don’t have anything as comparable in terms of the history of this fixture, the players who have played in this fixture.”

Sam was a travelling reserve in 2022, so knows what to expect from a day when he will be well supported by family and friends.

“It’s probably the biggest game I’ll play and it’s been a long journey getting here, so emotions will probably be high,” he says.

“But I’ll try to focus on it being just another game of rugby, focus on my structures and hopefully everything else will fall into place.

“The numbers of tickets are growing. I’ve got eight family members going, my old director of rugby from school, Mr Davies, some teachers from school, and friends from here and at home.”

Three players on a rugby pitch

Sam came up to Cambridge, from Christ’s Hospital School in Sussex, as a fly-half. He spent part of his first year playing scrum-half, last season played centre in the Blues squad and this year has converted to wing under the guidance of Cambridge University Rugby Union FC head coach James Shanahan.

Sam has benefited from expert assistance in the form of Toby Flood, who won 60 caps for England and played with distinction for Newcastle Falcons, Leicester Tigers and Toulouse before retiring in 2021. Flood is embarking on a part-time MBA at Judge Business School and is associated with Queens’ College.

Flood is also the elected captain of the Blues team this season, only for injury to rule him out of the Varsity match. It was Flood who told Sam he had been selected, after the Caian made the short and slightly nerve-racking walk from his Caius accommodation Green Street to a King’s Parade coffee shop.

“I was very nervous,” Sam adds.

“Coming close last year, as travelling reserve, it was a big goal for me and it’s been a long project, especially changing positions. For that to come off, I was elated.

“It was quite a short conversation. He encouraged me to go out and express myself.”

As his positional switches have shown, Sam’s versatility has been valuable.

“For me it’s about making sure I’m playing as much rugby as possible. If that meant changing positions I was happy to do that,” he adds.

“Wing is probably where I’ve had most success, which is funny as I’d never played there before this season!”

Photo credits: Chris Fell

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