Earth Scientists Ready to Rock the Rugby Varsity Matches

Earth Scientists Ready to Rock the Rugby Varsity Matches

Meet the Earth Scientists representing the University of Oxford in the upcoming Rugby Union varsity matches!

Earth Sciences has a long history of contributing talent to the sport, particularly in women’s rugby, including Jo Male (2016, St Edmund Hall), Alex Travers (2023, Worcester), and Anna Bidgood (2011, St Anne’s). Anna was the first female referee of a non-cuppers Oxford men’s rugby match, and organised the first ever women’s cuppers in 2018.

This year, all three Oxford women’s rugby teams will be captained by members of this Department: the Blues by Sophie Shams, 2nd Year DPhil; the Panthers (2nd Team) by Lucy Jackson, 4th Year Undergraduate; and the Pumas (3rd Team) by Lauren Forbes, 3rd Year Undergraduate.

The women’s squads also include Earth Scientists Stella Farmer and Zoe Guy. Hector Skipworth, 4th Year Undergraduate at St Edmund Hall, will be on the wing for the Oxford Men’s Blues.

The Women’s Blues will take on Cambridge at the StoneX stadium in London on 2nd March (kick-off at 12pm). The Men’s Blues game kicks off at 3pm. Tickets can be purchased here, and coach travel is available to book here.

The Panthers and Pumas games will take place on Sunday 25th February at Iffley Road Sports Centre (Panthers kick-off is at 12:30pm, with the Pumas at 3:30pm).


Player headshot of Sophie Shams

Sophie Shams

College: St Edmund Hall

Year: 2nd year DPhil

Favourite Earth Sciences Discipline: Seismology

Team: Women’s Blues (Captain)

Position: Inside Centre


Sophie’s Rugby Journey: My mum used to play so she started me playing when I was four. I played in boy’s teams until I was 13 as there weren’t any girls rugby in Dubai at the time and later played women’s until I was 18. When I moved to the UK for my undergraduate degree at Durham, I played both for the University as well as the local premiership club – DMP Sharks. In my first year we were BUCS finalists where I won the player of the match at Twickenham. I have since played for Saracens and recently signed with Trailfinders Women this season. I joined Oxford University Rugby Football Club in my first year and was made Captain after our Varsity victory last season.

Player headshot of Lucy Jackson

Lucy Jackson

College: University

Year: 4th Year

Favourite Earth Sciences Discipline: Palaeontology

Team: Panthers (Captain)

Position: Prop


Lucy’s Rugby Journey: I started playing rugby in January of my second year after being told I should try it by an Earth Scientist in the year above, and end up playing in Pumas varsity in 2022 only a couple of months later. Since that, I have played for OURFC as tighthead prop for the Panthers and I was appointed Captain in October 2023. As a team we have had a very successful run of matches leading us up to Varsity at the end of February.

Player headshot of Lauren Forbes

Lauren Forbes

College: Worcester

Year: 3rd Year

Favourite Earth Sciences Discipline: Seismology

Team: Pumas (Captain)

Position: Winger/Centre


Lauren’s Rugby Journey: Before starting university, I had never played rugby before and began with college rugby in first year (which was run by another Earth Scientist). In second year, I played rugby league, winning our varsity match in May 2023. Now I am Captain of my college team and have been playing for OURFC, which led to me being appointed Captain of the Pumas.

Player headshot of Stella FarmerStella Farmer

College: Worcester

Year: 4th Year

Favourite Earth Sciences Discipline: Environmental Geophysics

Team: Women’s Blues

Position: Fly half


Stella’s Rugby Journey: I started properly playing at university, and have played for the Worcester College team throughout. During my time in Oxford, I played a season for the Panthers and then moved up to the Blues team.

Player headshot of Zoe Guy

Zoe Guy

College: St Peter’s

Year: 3rd Year

Favourite Earth Sciences Discipline: Palaeontology and Fieldwork

Team: Women’s Blues

Position: Second Row


Zoe’s Rugby Journey: I started playing rugby when I was 13 for Coalville RFC, where I still play when not in Oxford, and later Leicestershire Country U18s. I played for the panthers in my first year of university alongside rugby league where I earned a full colour. In my second year I earned my blue playing a full 80 minutes at Twickenham.

Player headshot of Hector Skipworth

Hector Skipworth

College: St Edmund Hall

Year: 4th Year

Favourite Earth Sciences Discipline: Ore-Forming Processes, Exploration Geology

Team: Men’s Blues

Position: Winger


Hector’s Rugby Journey: I learnt how to play rugby in Hong Kong at Valley Fort RFC where I was coached by my dad. When I was 7, I moved to Edinburgh where I went to one of the best Scottish rugby schools, Merchiston Castle School, where we won the Scottish Schools U18s Cup. I was fortunate enough to be selected to play for Scotland U16s and U17s where we toured Wales and played the academies over there. At Oxford I captained the Teddy Hall rugby team in my second year, and this is currently my 3rd year at OURFC.