Skip Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Oriel College welcomes Wallaby prop

A prop for the Wallabies since 2016, Tom Robertson is taking a sabbatical from playing professional rugby to study for the Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree as a student at Oriel College.

Robertson already has an impressive academic background, holding a Bachelor of Medical Science from the University of Sydney and having started a four-year postgraduate Doctor in Medicine (MD) degree.

During his second year studying for the MD, also at the University of Sydney, Robertson had to defer his studies when he signed a contract with the New South Wales Waratahs and could no longer attend classes.

He intends to complete the MD in due course and in the meantime has completed two part-time degrees.

Robertson’s “goal for the future” is to work on the ground in clinical settings as well as in policymaking to ameliorate the standard of health care provision in Dubbo, his hometown in New South Wales, Australia.

He said that he applied to study the MPP at the University of Oxford because he wants to learn “how to develop policy that improves the healthcare system on a broader scale.”

Provided by the Blavatnik School of Government, the MPP is a one-year taught postgraduate degree aimed at equipping students with the academic knowledge and professional know-how needed to address the most urgent public policy challenges of today.

While at Oriel College Robertson is looking forwards to supporting the rugby team through offering coaching. He’s of course hoping to contribute more tangibly to the success of the team too. However, this will not be possible before he has recovered from a torn ligament in his knee.

As for sports other than rugby, he joked: “I have no idea whether I’ll be any good at them, but I am happy to give them a try.”

Robertson said deciding to take a sabbatical from rugby and travel to the opposite side of the world to enrol at Oriel College was a “big decision”, but added that the support of the Provost, Lord Neil Mendoza CBE, made the transition feel “extremely easy”.

He is an awardee of two scholarships: a John Monash Scholarship and the Tommy Lawton Scholarship.

John Monash Scholarships are awarded to outstanding Australian graduates who are enrolling on postgraduate degrees oversees. The Tommy Lawton Scholarship, meanwhile, is an outcome of collective efforts by the Rugby Union Player’s Association (RUPA) and the Rugby Foundation to “develop well-rounded people from the competitive rugby community.” Recipients must be current elite rugby players who have been accepted on to a course at the University of Oxford.

Robertson expressed his gratitude for the support from the General Sir John Monash Foundation and Dr Brett Robinson, an Australian former rugby player and Oxford alumnus who founded the Tommy Lawton Scholarship.