Hartpury students bidding to bring cup home for England

Hartpury’s roll of international honour continues to grow with two university students called up to the England Deaf Rugby squad.

Cameron Roberts and Ollie Evans have been selected to represent the Red Rose against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday at 2.30pm.

The Anglo-Welsh match-up will determine the winner of the Broadstreet Cup, with England looking to reclaim the trophy after losing to Wales twice last year.
Hooker Evans will be making his third appearance for the England Deaf Rugby squad while centre Roberts will earn his second cap, and both are relishing the opportunity to don the jersey again.

Evans, who plays for National League Two South side Lydney, said: “It’s a massive honour to represent my country and I am really looking forward to the game. Our squad is now a lot more experienced so hopefully the game will be a lot closer.”

Roberts, who has just recovered from injury, said: “I’m nervous and excited at the same time! I’m really looking forward to playing with the whole squad, and hopefully it will be an entertaining game.”

Wales won both contests last year by a scoreline of 30 points or more, but Evans believes this year will be a lot different.

The 20-year-old said: “Wales are a very strong side and we will not take them lightly. They have been together as a team for a while now and they will certainly pose their usual threat.

“However, I think our squad is the strongest it has been for a long time. The team is young and constantly improving and we are relishing the challenge to try to win the cup in their backyard.”

The England Deaf women’s team will also be appearing on the same day as the men, with Hartpury student, scrum-half Beth Weller, named in the squad that will take on Welsh club Penallta RFC in a 12-a-side development match that will act as a curtain raiser to the men’s international at 1pm. It will be their first fixture as a squad since starting training sessions in October 2014.

The England Deaf Rugby Union was formed in 2003 to provide opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing rugby players to play for their country. Former Hartpury student Matt Gilbert represented the squad 11 times and has since gone on to become the only deaf professional sportsman in England, playing for Championship side Worcester Warriors.