DANNY Collins will play the biggest rugby match of his life on Thursday.
The Dunmanway man has been named on the bench for the University of Cambridge as they take on Oxford in the 138th Varsity Match at Twickenham.
The 23-year-old prop forward is studying a PhD in Biology in Cambridge since making the move there in late September, and now he finds himself involved in this huge clash between the world-famous colleges with Cambridge keen to get their hands on the trophy Oxford won last year.
‘I’m ecstatic to be selected,’ the West Cork man told fitz.cam.ac.uk this week.
‘I came into the team late. I started playing rugby with Cambridge’s second team in mid-October. I got into the Blues team towards the end of November. It’s quite a late jump. I’m really excited, even to be on the bench.
‘It’s hard to tell how much time I’ll get – the Varsity match is completely different to any other game – but hopefully I’ll have some role to play.’
From lining out at home with Dunmanway RFC, Collins could now find himself packing down in the scrum with former Australia captain James Horwill and former South Africa international Flip van der Merwe.
‘They’re great to have on the team. They bring that international spark. It’s great to hear them giving advice and tips. It’s a pretty big engine room – and having two internationals playing alongside each other is pretty cool,’ the West Cork man said.
This will be Collins’ biggest ever rugby game, and ‘by quite a margin’ he says.
‘I didn’t play any representative rugby at any age level,’ he explained.
‘Back home I was playing with a small club called Dunmanway, from about the age of eight to 18, then I went to University College Cork and played with them for two and a half years, mainly U20s.’
It didn’t take him long to get noticed in Cambridge, called into the squad when they were short of props, and now he’s looking forward to running out at Twickenham on Thursday.