‘If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball’

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Go ahead, make your jokes, Mr. Jokey… Joke-maker. But let me hit you with some knowledge: Dodgeball has hit Oxford, and it’s hitting Oxford hard. The annual RAG dodgeball tournament took place on Saturday at the University Club, as Oxford’s finest athletes emerged from their revision pits to dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge. It was Cuppers, but not as we know it.

‘Why is this reporter using odd, out-of-con- text phrases I’ve never heard before?’, I hear some of you asking. ‘DODGEBALL, I LOVE THAT FILM!’, I hear others shouting. For those poor few who fall into the former category, here’s a quick run-down of all you need to know about the world’s favourite PE time-waster. There are 6 players on a team and 6 balls on a court. The aim of the game is simple – throw the ball from your side of the court to hit players on the other side of the court, or catch the balls which they throw at you. If you’re hit, you’re out until one of your own teammates catches a ball thrown by the other team. If that happens, the swap takes place – you come back in, the thrower leaves the game. Each match is timed, and the winning team is the one with the most players left on when the final klaxon goes. Simples.

The tournament itself was as hard fought as any Oxford sport. The winning team hailed from Christ Church, with Andrew Baxter captaining his Balls so Hard II: Powerballin’ side to victory. The extent of their training is unknown, but one can only presume that significant time was given over to honing their unbelievable skills. Other teams did not have quite the same success: Bailliol’s Girls on Tour were forced to resort to some fairly underhand tactics in their quest to avoid defeat, with their captain no-less pinning an opposition player to the ground to give her team a free shot. They were still defeated. 

No team came better dressed than 4th placed Poon Tang Clan. With all members in the shortest of short shorts and bright neon colours, their main aim was not victory but attempting to draw every single game, in order to force their captain into the dreaded ‘dodge-off’. Semi-finalists Cajones were more professional in their approach, sporting pristine white sports club shirts in order to provide an air of seriousness in the surrounding madness.

One member of the Wahooligans, who went out of the tournament in the group stages, gave me his take on the day: “The dodgeball tournament was a lot of fun although some of my team did duck out the day before. Some of us hadn’t really done it before so we were kinda diving in the deep end but now that we’ve dipped in and tried it, I can definitely recommend it although I may have to dodge it next year due to finals.”

The winning team were said to have been delighted with the liquor they received for their victory, but naturally the plaudits and fame that have come with their victory are worth more than any cheap alcoholic beverage. The semi-finalists were equally delighted with their consolation Haribos, but perhaps the greatest success of the day comes in the dodgeball tournament’s ability to do something that Oxford’s nightclubs have never managed: it managed to draw out not one, but TWO whole teams from Merton. We’re as shocked as you.

Most importantly, the tournament raised over £250 for RAG’s amazing charities and got 100 people playing a sport that they probably haven’t had a go at in years, if ever! Some final thoughts for any team considering entering next year, you ask? In the word of the late, great Patches O’ Houlihan: ‘Take care of your balls, and they’ll take care of you’.

If this has whetted your appetite, Oxford University Dodgeball Society run weekly tournaments on Wednesday between 5 and 6:30pm at the Iffley Road Sports Complex. Be warned though, take the sport on at your peril, these are finely tuned athletes you are competing with. Or if you are lazy, just stick the film on. 

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