A PLAYER from Reading Abbey Ladies is hoping to make history today by debuting for Oxford University Women in the Varsity match at Twickenham, writes Fiona Tomas.

Medical student Gwen Cartwright is hoping to run out at the home of England Rugby for the prestigious event – which will be broadcast live on the BBC Red Button.

If she does, she will become the first Abbey player to do so.

The 22-year-old joined Abbey’s ranks at the end of the summer while on a placement in Reading, having taken up the game two years ago.

And having sat on the bench last time round, the fifth-year student is ecstatic to be involved in such a high-profile game again in a growing era for women’s rugby.

“My dad said he was prouder of me playing at Twickenham than for getting into Oxford – but he is a bit of a rugby nut,” said Cartwright.

“It’s just great being part of anything that grows the game and if we inspire one or two girls to take up rugby, then that’s a pretty great result.

“I sat on the bench watching on eagerly last year, so fingers crossed I’ll get on this time.

“It was such an amazing atmosphere last time and this year, we’ve sold more tickets than ever to students so it should be amazing again.”

Dating back to 1872, the Varsity match is an annual rugby fixture played between Oxford and Cambridge.

But it wasn’t until 1988 when the first women’s rugby Varsity match was played and has only been staged at Twickenham, alongside the men’s game since 2015.

Cartwright – a former rower – took up rugby two years ago when she “fancied something different” and because she was fed up of the early mornings for training.

And despite being coached at Oxford by Gary Street – England’s former World Cup winning coach – she insists she has matured on the pitch since joining Abbey’s ranks.

“It was such a big thing coming and playing for Abbey, so far it’s been an amazing experience,” said Cartwright.

“I’ve learnt so much from them and I’ve grown as a rugby player.

“The girls have been so welcoming and so supportive since I was selected for Varsity, so I just hope I can go out and really make them proud.”