SOAS University of London

SOAS’ rising rugby star

22 September 2014

You may not be aware, but there is a rising talent of the domestic and international rugby scene in your midst. His Rugby Football Union ( web page lists his impressive physical stats. He stands at a towering 6ft 5 inches and weighs in at just over 17 stone. His name is Maro Itoje and he is currently affiliated with both the Saracens and England U20s squads. Most recently, Maro captained the U20 England team to victory in the IRB Junior World Championship against a formidable South African team in a fierce contest held at Eden Park, New Zealand. When he’s not off winning major international tournaments, he’s at home in London studying hard for his BA in Politics at none other than our very own SOAS, University of London.

Why did you pick SOAS?

“I needed to be in London due to my rugby commitments, so I applied to a few different universities – SOAS, Birkbeck, and Westminster – I received offers from them all but SOAS were first and I felt really positive about coming here.”

What was it about the course that convinced you to apply here?

“Well, I have Nigerian roots so the opportunity to study African politics really appealed to me. I want to gain a greater understanding of the history and politics of Africa, and more specifically Nigeria.”

How do your academic commitments coincide with your commitments on and off the field?

“Certain periods in the year are tough, but there are calmer periods too. It’s not easy; it’s definitely been a struggle at times, but getting a degree is really important to me. SOAS has also been very supportive. On the rugby side of things, we have a player development manager, David Jones, who’s a really intelligent guy who helps me out with my essays sometimes and in other general ways. For me, it’s just about getting the balance right.”

You’ve just finished your first year exams?

“Yes, I had my last one today, it was on political theory: Locke’s State of Nature came up and Hobbes and Mill too. It went well, I think.”

What does the future hold?  An acclaimed international rugby career will be a great place to kick off a career in politics ten years down the line:

“{laughs} I don’t want to be a politician. I find the course material really interesting and that’s why I study it, but a career in politics is not for me. Right now, my main focus is my rugby.”

I read in an interview that you write your own poetry. Are you still writing?

“Here and there, but I haven’t done a lot over the summer due to exams and the tournament. It’s something I enjoy though so I’ll return to it soon.”

Read Maro’s latest interview on how rugby can be a positive force for young people