For those of you that don’t know, the Jack Segust Memorial match is a superb annual rugby event in which the University of Portsmouth Men’s 1st XV take on an experienced Old Boys side. All proceeds from the match are donated to charity but most importantly, the match is held to commemorate and celebrate the life of Jack Segust, a promising young player here in Portsmouth whose life was taken in devastating circumstances back in 2012, at the age of just 21. With the highly anticipated event fast approaching, I sat down with the UPRFC President Rob King, who was eager to tell me more about this special fixture.
PUGWASH: Hi Rob! Thank you for meeting with me. I understand that the match is in its fifth year of existence, how have you seen the event grow and develop in that time?
ROB: So I’ve been to four of them now, during my first year when I was a fresher it was mind blowing when I first saw it. It was the first year after Jack had died so it was massive, there were loads of people and it really blew me away. It was really the reason that I joined rugby and over the years it’s sort of grown and changed from originally being against a Solent Barbarian’s team to now being against an Old Boy’s side that knew Jack and were in the club with him. The fixture has grown deeper in meaning over the years, his family still attend every year so it’s good in the way that it hasn’t changed but the way it also has to become more meaningful for the club as well.
PUGWASH: I’ve noticed that when advertising the event the phrase ‘Heroes get remembered but legends never die’ has been used a lot, clearly Jack was a much loved and admired member of the rugby community in Portsmouth. If you don’t mind can you tell me a bit about Jack and how the memorial match came into fruition?
ROB: I personally didn’t know Jack but from everyone I speak to who knew him he was a right character. He was sociable, he was friendly, everyone liked him, everyone knew him and everyone respected him so the phrase ‘Heroes get remembered but legends never die’ really suited him when they were coming up with it because he was a legend in the club and probably would have gone on to massive things.
PUGWASH: What’s your score prediction for the match, is competition usually even between the two sides?
ROB: So last year was the first Old Boys game. It was a tough match, there were some big lads there but we managed to pull away at the end with a few tries. This year I don’t know, their team is different and we’re different so it’s hard to say right now. I’m going to be confident and say that we’re going to win, if I had to guess I’d say 25-10!
PUGWASH: What’s the mood like in the dressing room before the match, are the team as focused and prepared as they would be for a league fixture or is there a more relaxed atmosphere?
ROB: So from last year I don’t know about the Old Boys team but for us there’s an energy. It’s different from any other game we do because there’s a crowd, there’s people we know, there’s meaning behind it more than just trying to win the game. Everyone’s mind set changes from going out to win the game to going out to be the best you can be rather than just beating your opposite man. So far we’ve trained on Monday and the energy was ridiculous, it was probably the best we’ve ever had.
PUGWASH: It’s obviously brilliant that all the money raised will be donated to the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, will you have the chance to see how your donations impact the organisation?
ROB: We already know how much we impact the charity as it’s completely based on funding from people like us and it’s the only reason that they are able to function. We never see a direct impact but we know that our donations are helping massively and we know that we help them run which is good enough for us.
PUGWASH: Given that the match is going to be held in conjunction with a Purple Wednesday event, there is clearly a heavily social aspect to the match, is this something that you always wanted to achieve with the event?
ROB: Yeah absolutely, Jack himself was a really social guy so it’s why we do a minute’s clap rather than a minute’s silence and it’s why we’re celebrating Jack for who he was instead of remembering his death. It is to remember Jack for who he was, not to feel sad about it but to bring him back in a sense. Rugby in itself is a social aspect but that brings more people, brings more of an environment, brings the community together more than just committed rugby players and fans.
PUGWASH: What would you say that this event means to Portsmouth University Rugby on the whole?
ROB: It means a lot of different things to different people. From an Old Boys point of view and people playing it’s massive because it’s our biggest event. We know what it’s about and we know the story behind it. For fresher’s it will be their first chance to see the club, hopefully it’ll show them what the club is about and hopefully it will blow their mind in the same way that it did for me. It has lots of other meanings too, from a committee point of view it’s us putting our mark on the University for the year and trying to build from there as it puts us in a good standing point. For the Uni itself I think it’s massive, it gets loads of people in for a good cause and it’s just a good event!
PUGWASH: It’s inspiring that from such a tragic loss, such a positive and beneficial event has materialised. Is it your intention to try and inspire those around you to get involved with not only sport but also charitable work?
ROB: Yeah one hundred per cent. We’re trying to do a lot more RAG events this year than we normally do because normally we do this and a few other things but we really want to have a bigger impact this year. I got an email today saying Portsmouth Uni is in the top five for people playing rugby and time spent playing rugby so obviously we are inspiring people, but obviously we also want to try and get better and better in that respect this year.
PUGWASH: If people can’t attend the match on Wednesday, is there another way that they can donate?
ROB: Yes, there’s a Just Giving page if you follow it. You can find it using the link https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Segust16 and people can donate straight to this page. Alternatively, you can text the code ‘JSMC60’ followed by the amount you’d like to donate, for example, ‘£10’ to 70070. If not, we’ll be bringing around buckets and if anyone gets in contact then we’ll just come and find you!
PUGWASH: And finally, what’s next for University Rugby? What do you think your chances are in the league fixtures this year?
ROB: It’s hard to tell, of the teams that have just been promoted to the Southern Premier B, we’ve got the likes of Southampton, Bristol, Bath, St. Mary’s and other big Universities. Our first game is the 5th October so hopefully big things. The rest of the clubs should do well, we have high hopes that everyone will smash their leagues but we don’t know, it’s still too early to tell but we’ve got a lot of fresher’s coming in. We’ve had a big uptake and a lot of new members have joined so it should be a good year.
PUGWASH: That’s brilliant, thank you very much! All the best for tomorrow’s match.