Our alumni

The media industry continues to evolve and is an exciting sector for graduates to launch their careers. Brothers Robbie and William Owen, both Derby graduates, have been lucky enough to step into this world, using it to share their passion for rugby. 

William, who graduated in BA (Hons) English in 2019, was able to take what he’d learned at university and use it as a springboard to launch what has been a successful career so far.

“Going to university certainly helped me launch my career in freelance writing," he explains. "The demands of 2,000+ word essays on literature to tight deadlines make writing 1,000 words on rugby feel like a breeze – nowadays I can churn out my articles in one sitting.”

Close-up, headshot of William Owens

Using humour in academic pieces was definitely encouraged by my wonderful language lecturer Barbara. I loved my time at Derby, it settled me into an environment where I could be myself and express myself.

William Owen
BA (Hons) English alumni

The idea to begin the Squidge Rugby YouTube channel from his bedroom came after Robbie saw a gap in the market for online rugby content. Taking a different approach to rugby analysis, the channel targets younger audiences with a light-hearted tone, where a look at modern tactics is mingled with jokes and humour. As the channel grew, Robbie shared it through other social platforms, which increased its popularity further.

Commenting on the value of his degree, William said: “My language course turned my ability to write creatively from a forced skill into a habit. I always aim to avoid writing in a conventional (journalistic) way and try to evoke something more engaging. Using humour in academic pieces was definitely encouraged by my wonderful language lecturer Barbara. I loved my time at Derby, it settled me into an environment where I could be myself and express myself.”

Squidge Rugby currently has 202k subscribers and produces regular content for its audiences. It has had 29,937,077 views since it was first created back in December 2017, with the most viewed video receiving 1.1 million views. They also produce content for other platforms including Twitter (with a following of 71.3k), and Instagram (with a following of 23.3k). 

In the early stages, Robbie oversaw everything on the channel - analysing the rugby, script writing, voiceovers and editing. It was a while before William joined him as after completing his English degree at Derby, he pursued other interests, including a podcast with Robbie and freelance sports writing. It wasn’t until Robbie was away in Japan for the World Cup and William stepped in to help, that he became the second member of the Squidge Rugby channel team.

Squidge Rugby has been recognised by commentators including Nick Mullins (BT Sport), pundit Ugo Monye (former England International), and coaches such as Rassie Eramus (who won the 2019 Rugby World Cup with South Africa). Its popularity has allowed Robbie to flex more, raise his profile within the industry and make content for the BBC.

While they have lots of exciting plans, right now the brothers are looking forward to creating content for the men’s Rugby World Cup in September 2023, and William would like to expand his current role within the channel by taking on more responsibility for the maintenance and production, including more writing as well as involvement in the videos by creating some voiceover content.

William highlights: “The success of Squidge Rugby so far has been amazing, and it’s a privilege to be involved in such a unique project. I can’t wait for what’s to come for the channel, not least travelling out to France for next year’s World Cup.”

And for any budding YouTubers or rugby enthusiasts looking to get into this industry, Robbie has the following advice: “I would say no matter what you do, do it differently. Don’t drift towards the 'correct' way of doing things. Be creative and think laterally wherever you can. You might have to convince a few people you’re not insane along the way, but there are already enough people in the world writing conventionally about sport, or any other subject. I would much rather read or watch something that’s funny and engaging (but not overdone) than something with big fancy long words in it.”

Written by Bethany Parkes 

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