A Fresher’s Guide to Sport at Oxford

Sport is a big deal at Oxford. Students compete from the smallest college football team on a lonely Oxford field to the mighty Blues rowers, broadcast live from the Thames on the BBC. Hundreds of college players brave the wind and rain throughout the year, proving that Oxford is not solely a place of academia.

1.       Fitness – Joining a college or Blues team is the perfect tonic to the weeklong binge that is Freshers’ week. A jog round the Uni Parks is a healthy way to combat – or at least justify – one too many of Oxford’s finest kebabs.

2.       Escapism – Oxford can be a place of intense pressure. If you are locked in battle with a logic problem, or high off the fumes of ancient tomes in the Rad Cam, a run-out for any college team can provide a welcome break. Take out your algebra rage with a knee high lunge against an innocent opponent.

3.       Glory – That last minute equaliser you scored for Teddy Hall III’s against John’s IV may not make the back pages of national newspapers, but amongst your exhausted team you are a superman. Celebrate at Park End accordingly and recall tales of your heroism to anyone that will listen.

4.       Cuppers – College sport may not have the prestige playing for the Blues, but try telling that to the winners of any inter-collegiate Cuppers competition. Bragging rights across the university are at stake here, and the Football Cuppers championship is the oldest football tournament in the world. Take that World Cup.

5.       Stash – You will never look as cool as the first time you strut down Cornmarket in your Hockey 3rd team Canterbury trackies. You will never look as suave as when you shark on a girl sporting your elegant blues Lacrosse tie. College rowers are particularly guilty of overuse of stash. Splash jackets seem to be suitable attire for all social situations, not just on the river. 

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6.       Rowing – A sport that divides opinion in Oxford. For some it is an Oxford institution – as witnessed by the huge crowds present at ‘bumps’ racing. Rowing seems to have an addictive quality and 500m splits, crabs and “the stride” become almost an obsession for some. A polite mention of the ‘R’ word has ruined many a dinnertime conversation for the non-rower. The cynics perceive rowing as symbolic of early mornings, sweaty lycra and overly intense masculinity. Homoerotica or tradition? You decide, but be sure to at least give it a go.

7.        Socials – Wednesday nights at Park End are awash with the slurred speech of sporting crewdates. A “crewdate” is when your “crew” – say Somerville Rugby, goes out with a team of the opposite sex, normally to one of Oxford’s many BYOB curry houses. Getting into a sports team is thus one of the best ways to speak to that girl you’ve always fancied from lectures who you know plays for her college netball team. Just avoid college rowers. One infamous spot fine was directed at “anyone with a 2K erg time less than eight minutes”. Park End did not know what had hit it.  

8.       Pulling power – Try telling anyone that being a Blues rugby player does not have sex appeal (if you’re a man). Being a female gymnast Blue seems equally effective.. Table tennis (as seen on Shark Tales) may have marginally less success.

9.       Blues – The business end of Oxford Sport. Excel in your discipline and you will represent the university and travel across the country to take on other university sides. A great way to meet people from other colleges. The goal of any Blues player is to play in the Varsity match, in which Oxford take on Cambridge. These games attract 1000s of fans, and represent the pinnacle of any Oxford Sporting career.

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10.   Cherwell Sport – Or do they? Cherwell Sport works throughout the term, covering a variety of sports that range from college relegation dogfights to the Varsity fixtures. We look to debate and discuss topical sporting issues in both Oxford and the world, as well as providing relevant interviews. We are always looking for new contributors. If you’re interested about getting involved in any capacity then email cherwellsport@googlemail.com. It could be you writing this next year.