Rob Sidoli playing rugby for Cardiff Blues.
Rob Sidoli, Cardiff graduate and Cardiff Blues rugby player recalls his early morning dash for lectures, the lure of a cooked breakfast and the supportive staff on and off the pitch.
“Iíd made the decision to go to University quite early on as despite my rugby, I knew I might still need to work after I retired from the sport. But I was also keen to stay nearby and keep playing rugby professionally for Merthyr and later Pontypridd.
“I remember vividly the trip from my home in Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff on the Universityís open day. It was a sunny summerís day and to be honest the campus around Cathays Park looked like something out of a picture book. There were students everywhere sitting around the grounds having lunch and there was a real buzz about the place. It pretty much cemented the decision to study there.
“Once settled, my fondest memories are strangely related to early morning lectures. Iíd train in the gym most days and then try to get from Merthyr to Cardiff in time for my 9 oíclock lectures. As always, I was running late and would probably have made it in time, if only I didnít need to pass by the Canteen in the Trevithick building. The smell of breakfast cooking was just too much, so I would often stop off on the way frequently missing lectures. I always thought to myself that if lectures started at 9.15 instead of 9, I would have made it Ė or better still, if the canteen hadnít been there at all!
“Staff in the School of Computer Science were extremely supportive especially Elaine Slater, who convinced me to carry on and helped me balance my rugby, studying and a part-time job. Others were Frank Jones, and Dr David Marshall who as a keen Pontypridd supporter at the time, would keep me going on and off the campus.
“Three years flew by and graduation day was a memorable occasion for me, and my parents. Although quite used to supporters watching my every move on the pitch, walking through the city centre to St Davidís Hall in full cap and gown for the ceremony was an experience in itself - embarrassment soon turned to pride when I remembered the years of hard study and gruelling rugby.
“As for the 125th anniversary, I can only wish that Cardiff continues to have success and build on its reputation. And that staff continue to be as supportive of their students as they were with me. Without their understanding of the pressures on todayís students Iím not sure I would have made it to the end.”