Oxford’s own language also extends in to the world of its sport. With this in mind, your benevolent sports team here at Cherwell have decided to help you out with a handy glossary, but don’t blame us when your home friends balk at your stories of croquet cuppers or blades at Torpids.
Blue: The big daddy. Denotes both the first team of any Oxford sport, as well as the award given to any player who takes the field in Varsity matches in sports such as rugby union, football, cricket, hockey and rowing.
Blue tac: Not only a banned substance on college walls, Blue tac is also seen on a Wednesday night in Park End when certain Oxford females will try to bag themselves a Blue, identifying them by their club tie.
Bumps: With the River Isis being too narrow to fit several crews in a line, bumps racing is the principle form of racing at Oxford. Crews line up in divisions one behind the other and try to ‘bump’ the crew in front and start the next day ahead of them in the division. A crew that bumps on every day of the regatta wins blades, a crew that is bumped ever day ‘wins’ spoons.
Cuppers: Inter-College knock out competition. Typically university sportsmen are allowed to compete, making for higher standard matches, and a lot of splinters if you play in one of their positions.
Catching Crabs: When your blade (oar) gets stuck under your boat it is known as catching a crab. This doubles up as a hackneyed punch line of many a rowing joke.
Croquet: Croquet cuppers is supposedly the biggest croquet competition in the world, and is the focal point of what is a surprisingly entertaining summer sport. Find three friends, have a laugh, and then get knocked out by a team that takes it far too seriously.
Iffley: A cover-all term that describes everything at the university sports complex on Iffley road. Site of the running track, university sports pitches, swimming pool and gym.
Half Blue: Awarded to those who compete in Varsity matches in supposedly less prestigous sports. Athletics gets a half blue; so does dancing. Fair? You decide.
Summer VIIIs: Arguably the apogee of inter-collegiate sport, summer VIIIs is a bumps regatta that takes place in the 5th week of Trinity term. Whilst the rowing provides an exciting interlude, the main attraction is Saturday of Eights, where thousands of people flock to the Isis to frolic in the sun and drink Pimm’s.
Vinnie’s: a.k.a. Cassa de Lad, this boys’ only club is the haunt of Oxford’s top sportsmen. You have to be suggested and then approved to become a member, and are allowed no female company before 6 p.m. Perks include cheap food, cheap booze and so many lad points you may need a bigger van to carry them in.