After eight issues that’s it for us at Cherwell Sport for the term, so we’re feeling quite elegiac. With emotion running through the Choffices it’s time to take a look back at our favourite bits of the sporting term.
The obvious repeated theme of our reporting all term, the rain has been the big non-negotiable when we think about this Trinity. It’s affected everything, making some sports unplayable, raising fears of cancellation for some marquee events like Summer Eights. Sodden matches of croquet aren’t what we’re used to, and the hail really changed hockey matches. Despite some people’s best (actually quite shoddy) efforts to debate to the contrary in these very pages, the deluge has to some extent marred this term’s sporting endeavours. For that, and in honour of every journeyman county cricketer who spent all Easter bathing his Duncan Fearnley in linseed oil, the rain is our villain of the term.
An unlikely candidate for one of our favourite moments would be the previously unheralded Freshfields Rugby 7s tournament early on at Iffley Road. Played in the perfect spirit, the rugby on offer veered from the sublime to the absurd. The stand – which reverberated with the sounds of an impressive number of fans – was a happy place due to the combination of free beers and free hog roast. It was, quite simply, glorious.
Still, the true highlight of the term has to have been 5th week. Casting all thoughts of 5th week blues into the (previously rain-filled) gutter, it was a beautiful week. As the sun first peeked out on the Monday, and then burst into full flame on Tuesday, it watched over an eclectic mix of sports. The cycling road race Varsity was something very different, as St. Giles was appropriated by Halfords and a voluble commentator, and though the Dark Blues were trounced it was a good day out nonetheless.
The real twin peaks of the week though were Summer Eights, which turned even the most ardent anti-rower into a blissful boatie (for Saturday at least), and the Varsity Twenty20 cricket match. Both were enormously well-attended by boozey crowds grateful for the excuse for a day out in the sun, and turned fifth week from good to great. College sport, when it could take place, was as ever a joy to behold and participate in, the real reason most of us got involved with this in the first place.
There’s plenty left to come however. One of the most keenly-awaited events is the croquet Cuppers final. It’s often noted that it’s the competition with the most entrants in Oxford, and the final should bring a (hopefully dry) highlight to term for four lucky people. Croquet is often unfairly pilloried, and few would describe it as a spectator sport, but the University Lawns are in a glorious setting in Parks. The up-shift in quality of grass between them and your average college quad is extraordinary, so going down to watch some top-level croquet (my pick would be the Teddy Hall 1st IV) wouldn’t be a bad idea.
The Dark Blues may have been successful in the Varsity Twenty20, but there are contests left to come for OUCC. After the sun-bathed victory on Friday of 5th week the next big date in the calendar is the 16th June (the last day of term), which sees both the men and women of Oxford cricket club taking to Lord’s for their respective fifty-over Varsity games. After a respectable break the 4 day Varsity, the pinnacle of the OUCC calendar, is set to take place from the 24th – 27th June, back in Parks. I can’t think of many more idyllic ways to spend a few boozey post-exam, essayless hours than in front of the cricket with (God willing) the sun out.
Tomorrow, on Saturday 9th June, sees the Polo Varsity match. If anyone has the means to get themselves to Windsor in time then there’s a real spectacle at hand. Sponsored, of course, by Jack Wills, the day has much more to offer than just the Oxford-Cambridge game. Two Old Boy games in the morning are followed by the Eton-Harrow match and then the other side of the Varsity game as Harrow play Yale, so there’s more polo than anyone could reasonably want on offer.
Also available for a summer’s day out supporting the Dark Blues are the tennis Varsity matches. Near Richmond in Roehampton the games happen in early July, between the 3rd and 5th of that month. While it may not be the most prestigious or best attended south London tennis tournament in early July, the players would certainly appreciate some support. Oxford may already have won enough Varsity matches to secure overall dominance over Cambridge this year but there are crucial fixtures ahead.
Turning away from the University scene, there is still hopefully a huge amount of college sport left to be played. Sticking to college cricket alone, most teams could probably fill the next two weeks purely with rescheduled games. Any sunny day currently sees a rush of excitement and activity, followed by inevitable disappointment when it’s remembered that rain the previous days has meant that the pitches are far too waterlogged. So with a few dry days there’ll be non-stop shoddy cricket to watch. Presumably mixed netball Cuppers will be rescheduled too, and that should be a real sight to see, with ill at ease men attempting to keep their heads above water in a riot of competitiveness.
That’s about it then, leaving aside of course the spontaneous pick-up games of parks football and cricket that pop up in any summer worth the name. It’s been emotional, but we bid you farwwell.