The Drop Meets Exeter’s Very Own England Internationals

Graham Wilson questions EURFC players Tom Sargeant and Matt Chambers about what it’s really like to be an England Students international.

England Exeter Rugby Tom Sargeant

Fresh back from playing internationally ranked side Portugal, having narrowly lost, Tom and Matt sat down to chat England, bolt times and nicknames.

So, obviously the big issue for England Students this week is the loss to Portugal. They're a full international side and it was an extremely close score.


How do you feel your game went?


TS: Well, I think that the main thing was that we played positively. Although we lost, they're an internationally ranked side, and, I think the fact that we went out there and outscored them in terms of try count and only lost by three points in our first game together, gives us a big building block to build on for the rest of the season.

MC: The game was really tight, it was obviously exciting and a real honour to represent England, but ultimately really disappointing that we couldn’t get the win.

Having said that, losing by such a small margin does show that we can compete at the very highest level against IRB ranked opposition. The team is full of really good rugby players and I think we adapted well to the situations we faced. We played some exciting rugby, played at a high tempo, and ultimately played some good threatening rugby. The team has bonded really quickly and I think that showed on the pitch.

Do you feel that England reached their potential in the game or do you feel you still have more to give?

TS: Yeah, well I think everyone was very disappointed, as I think we felt we won the game. Actually on reflection, we've had a couple of weeks to have a look at the video and see where we can improve, and I think there's a massive positive vibe about the next game against Wales.

We know that we can go out there and play an attractive, fast-playing brand of rugby and we think that will serve us well against Wales.

MC: I think the team has plenty more to give, we did ourselves proud in the first match but I think everyone came away thinking we had opportunities to win the match that we may not have taken.

The first half in particular was quite frantic, this in part was obviously down to the excitement of the occasion; however I think the team will look to be more clinical in executing the moves and plays moving into the Wales fixture.

What are your thoughts about the upcoming game against Wales Students?

TS: We don't know too much about Wales. We were supposed to play against France, who we know from last year are very strong, but unfortunately, for some reason, they pulled out. So the RFU asked Wales if they'd like to put out a side and they organised it.


We've heard some good things about them. There are a lot of Welsh premiership players who are playing at the weekend in premiership teams so I think they'll be pretty strong. Whether they're as good as Portugal, I don't know. They're always very up for and very passionate, so with any luck it'll be a good game.

MC: We played really well against in the Portuguese fixture and I think this will give the team confidence. This England students team playing with confidence for 80 minutes will be very tough to stop and prevent from putting points on the score board.

After Uni are you still planning for a career in rugby? Tom , I know you had a few season with 'Quins?


TS: Yeah, I did. I used to play at 'Quins. I played there for two years after I left school. It was a fantastic experience, I really enjoyed it. For a young guy, an eighteen year old, to go into that professional environment, be training and playing with some of the guys you've grown up watching on tv, players like Nick Easter, like Danny Care, to learn from these guys, it's fantastic.


Chris Robshaw, now the England captain, was my mentor during my time there, so to have the opportunity to learn from these guys really helped my career. The reason I left was that in the back row at Quins, there are just no opportunities for young guys. So I was given the opportunity to come to Exeter, to get my degree, take a step back, and focus on getting a good foundation behind me. It's definitely my aim to go back to play rugby in the Premiership. If the opportunity came around to go back to 'Quins, I certainly would look at it.

MC: I'm definitely looking to keep playing rugby after I leave Uni.  If any clubs want me then it will be something I will look into and access whether it would be a good fit for me. Otherwise I will be looking to move back to London, get a job, earn some money, and play in a high league for a London based side.

Obviously you're both students. What can you tell us about being an England star in Exeter. I'm guessing you use the line 'I play for England' quite a bit in Timepiece?

TS: I wish I could but I think my girlfriend might have something to say about it! She's making sure I keep myself in check and I'm not running amok in Timepiece.

MC: Haha, I have never, ever used that line in Timepiece: “Yes I am, yes you can, get your coat” is more my style.


We've got a few questions from rugby fans at Exeter. Although you may be great at rugby, are you an all rounder? What sort of bolt times could we expect from you?


TS: I think my official time, although some may dispute it, is 2.99 seconds. I'm nothing on Will McGee, he's on just over a second.


MC: 3.2 is my PB.

So, when it comes to going out, are you Arena men, or is Firehouse more your sort of thing?

TS: When I get the chance, I like to go to Arena. Friday nights at Timepiece are great as well.

MC: I'm in a bit of a routine when it comes to going out, Monday – Mosaic, Wednesday – TP, Thursday – Mosaic, Friday TP… Black Horse for beers.


Who would you say is the best at sharking in the Uni 1st XV?

TS: I would have to say George Flemming is pretty good, although a couple of his tactics are pretty suspect. There are few sneaky Freshers there though, looking to take over his sharking crown.

MC: Rhys Morgan aka the Janitor aka the Silent Assassin (self proclaimed nick names).


What tips would you give to any Exeter players looking to make it big?

TS: You've got to be disciplined in terms of your training. Balancing that and your uni work and social life. You can quite often be swayed in going out, but if you stay focused and want to play Premiership rugby then make sure you wake up and go to the gym and work hard in training, and that's as in important as going out. Enjoy your time but make sure you don't let the training slip.

MC: My attitude towards training is to just do more work than the competition would. If you can safely say you have worked as hard as you can in the gym, on the training pitch, at Walkaboutm and you can look in the mirror and be happy that no one is working harder, then fair enough. I also find that Snakebite is the best post match recovery drink on the market.


Thanks to UniSportOnline for the use of their photograph.