Rugby Classics? Classical Rugby?

Rugby doesn’t get much airplay up here in the Great Humid North, so I can’t honestly say I’ve heard of Jamie Gibson, but it’s always nice to read when folks with a talent on a playing field also take part in activities in the Classics field. Some excerpts from the Express:

JAMIE GIBSON is living proof that it is possible to combine a ­burgeoning professional ­career with even the most exalted academic discipline.

Flanker Gibson, 20, from Wiltshire, somehow combines Premiership rugby for London Irish with studying Classics at Oxford University, his reading list including Homer, Virgil, Euripides and Aristophanes.

Then he become an England Saxon. Appearances off the bench against the Barbarians and the United States confirmed the quality Gibson had already shown as a Marlborough schoolboy who represented all of England’s age-group sides.

“There are things to work on but I’ve been very pleased with how it’s gone so far, especially in the Barbarians game when I came up against some world-class players in their back row,” said Gibson.

“Next season I need to nail down one of the back-row positions at London Irish and, in terms of England, keep pushing along in the Saxons squad post-World Cup. The 2015 World Cup would have to be the ambition but I’m not thinking that far ahead.”

“My supervisor at Oxford says God gives us eight hours for sleeping, eight hours for fun and playing rugby and eight hours for working,” said Gibson. “I’m not sure it’s quite like that but, if that’s his viewpoint, I’m happy to give it a go.

“Even if I had a tough couple of weeks’ training or in the winter when the weather is tough, I never feel there’s any stress to it. If there’s a chance to do some studying, I take it wherever I am. It means you keep engaging your mind and don’t go stale.

“This is my nature. When I work for two hours, I make sure I get two hours’ work done, whereas if you have four hours’ free time you might spend every 30 seconds gazing out of the window.”

Gibson makes it sound so simple. But last night he was back in Oxford from the Saxon’s Bath base for a tutorial and still has four more essays to write during the final fortnight of the second of his four undergraduate years. As a classicist with a knowledge of seven languages – Latin, Greek, French, Russian, Mandarin and Spanish as well as his native tongue – Gibson inevitably raises the intellectual tone wherever he may be, including at London Irish.


“I always believed I could make it work, combining my studies with a rugby career, but the speed at which everything has gone has been very surprising especially in the last six months,” said Gibson.

“I’m not going to complain about playing rugby and being at university in Oxford. I started 12 games on the trot for London Irish at the end of the season and had no difficulties managing that. We even went to Leeds in the middle of the exam period.

“I’m prepared to do whatever is necessary but I’d like to get my course done in the two years that remain.”



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