Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, will have to hide her background when she arrives at Twickenham Stadium on Thursday to watch the first women’s Varsity Match to be played at the home of English rugby.
As the MP for Loughborough will be handing over the trophy to the winning team at the end of the historic contest she needs to be impartial – or at least as impartial as someone can be having studied Jurisprudence at St Hugh’s College, Oxford and acted as Treasurer of the Oxford Union Society.
The women’s Varsity Match pre-dates her arrival at Oxford with the first game being played at Iffley Road, home of the Dark Blues, on 10 March, 1988. This week’s game will be the 29th meeting of the two universities and the honoured guest could be forgiven for harbouring some hope of a victory for her old university.
“I’m delighted to see women’s rugby being played and celebrated at Twickenham, the home of English Rugby. We should all be immensely proud of these inspirational sportswomen, and let’s not forget that the England women’s rugby team are the holders of the World Cup,” said Morgan.
“Raising the profile of women in sport is crucial and it’s a powerful way to influence social change. Female athletes act as role models and prove that sport is not just for men. Women compete and win at the highest levels and we must all show our support and cheer them on.”
The women’s match will precede the 134th Varsity Match in which Oxford are seeking to make history by becoming the first team to win six games in a row. The Oxford women, meanwhile, are seeking to avenge their 47-0 defeat to Cambridge at Grange Road earlier in the year.