Fear not sports fans, after weeks of inactivity over the summer months, Oxford sport (and more importantly Cherwell Sport) is back. This term we will be covering terrain ranging from the snowy slopes of the Alps to the light drizzle of Marston fields. Whether you are a teenage prodigy, Sunday league dynamo or armchair fan we aim to satisfy your sporting yearnings over the next eight weeks. This Michaelmas of sport has something to offer everyone, as for novice and pro alike there are plenty of spectacles to witness or partake in. Here Cherwell Sport picks out just some of the highlights of Oxford’s first term in the sporting arena.
Rugby players will insist to you that the 8th of December is this term’s sporting pinnacle. On this day England’s home ground of Twickenham – with a capacity of 80,000 and future host of the 2015 Rugby World Cup final – hosts the 129th Varsity Rugby match against Cambridge. This fixture will not just be witnessed by the thousands of Oxbridge students present at Twickenham, but will be broadcast across the nation on Sky Sports. Big hits, knock-ons and inevitable Oxonian dominance will be viewed with the benefits of super slowmo and HD. For Dark and Light Blue alike this is an event not to be missed, setting up bragging rights nicely for the later Varsity contests in football and rowing.
If you fancy something slightly more chilled, at the end of Michaelmas 3000 Oxbridge students will descend on Val Thorens in the French Alps for the 2011 Varsity Ski Trip. The self-described “best end-of-term party in the world” combines a variety of snow sports with the university staples of alcohol and music. Having attracted DJs such as Calvin Harris and Kele Okereke over the last few years it certainly has plenty to live up to. Expect vomit-stained pistes, a variety of garish Primark onesies and maybe even some skiing and snowboarding.
Despite what the Daily Mail would have you believe, the Varsity trip is also home to serious sporting action. It was first held in 1922 in order to host the Blues ski races against Cambridge, whilst (slightly) slower College Cuppers is a recent and hotly contested addition. The core of what has become a social occasion remains decidedly sporting – just make sure you don’t tip off the national press about the “debauched challenges” that may or may not be taking place this year after the egg-smashing controversy of the 2010 trip.
An encounter with rowing seems to be unavoidable during your time in Oxford, and in 7th week the Isis hosts the Christ Church Regatta, a competition specifically held for those completely new to the sport. Within just a couple of weeks many unsuspecting freshers will have undergone dramatic conversion from wide-eyed innocence into lycra-clad determination. For those who choose this path no sacrifice is to great in the cause of victory, and limbs will probably be lost to frostbite as novice crews battle it out to hit the water first on a sub-zero November morning at 6am.Unlike “Bumps” racing later in the year the Christ Church regatta is a head-to-head knockout competition as crews battle it out blade-on-blade with their opposition. This, when coupled with the fact that only novice coxes are allowed to be put in charge of the steering, results in understandable carnage, as a brief YouTube search will confirm. If the wind and rain do not set in, this tends to be a thoroughly enjoyable occasion.
The early rounds of College Cuppers also kick off in Michaelmas. The football competition in particular holds a certain degree of prestige as it was first contested in the 1882, won by Magdalen. Football Cuppers is thus older than the World Cup itself, a fact that gives considerable bragging rights for members of the victorious team. The finals of hockey, rugby and football cuppers are held in Hilary, but should you lose an early round this autumn, any shot at glory would disappear.
Whilst these events may have the edge in terms of glamour, in reality sporting endeavour will be present on a weekly basis in all college fixtures. Football, hockey, lacrosse, rugby and netball all kick off their seasons in the next few weeks. These contests may not make the headlines but they will create drama, tension and glory across the whole of Oxford, it’s just up to you to be part of it.
So be it starring as a striker for your college hockey fourth team, playing for the Blues or watching Oxford beat Cambridge at Twickenham, be sure to get involved to some degree this term. There is life beyond academia in Oxford, and Cherwell Sport will be here to guide you through what promises to be an exciting eight weeks in the sporting arena.
If you would like to get involved with Cherwell Sport this term, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.