Local rivals worlds apart

For Guernsey-born Oxonians, there is another Other Place with whom they contest a fierce sporting rivalry

It took me a while to work out what sport was for me. I tried football, swimming and cricket, but all to no avail. Coming from an island, everyone learned to sail, but after three years I realised I spent far too much time sailing a submarine, considering how much of the time it was on its back.

Finally, I accidentally discovered a sport that I really enjoyed, so much so that I stuck at it long enough that I was no longer completely rubbish at it. Fencing.

Fencing has brought me a number of cherished memories, from the people I have met, being able to coach other, and being able to compete all over the world. The Junior Commonwealth Games in South Africa was a personal highlight.

However, the best memories come from when you beat your rivals, and I am not talking about Cambridge, as the Dark Blues lost last year. I am talking about a rival much closer to home, Jersey.

As Guernsey born and bred, there will be no greater rival than our sister island Jersey.

I have had the chance to compete against them a number of times over the years, however, the most memorable was my first ever team match against them.

I was selected as the third fencer (you have three people on a fencing team per weapon) because I won the selection competition the week before – to the dismay of my then coach who clearly had previously planned other ideas.

We travelled over on the ferry in the morning to compete at Fort Regent against our Jersey opponents. I was very nervous, being the youngest competitor on the day, just hoping not to let the team down.

My first fight was solid, just beating my opponent.

Against their top fencer in my second fight I completely capitulated dropping a number of points and compromising of the lead we had built, but managed to pull it together winning the last fight 7-1.

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We went into the final match 40-33 up, hoping our anchor (the best fencer on the team you leave until the end to finish the opponent off) would do a much better job than I had done against this individual.

Thankfully, despite a very nervy comeback from Jersey, we won 42-41. With just a point in it, the relief at the conclusion was palpable, but soon turned into a feeling of jubilation.

These close matches against your rivals are very special, especially when you win, and this being my first one, especially an away match where you have the added bonus of travelling offshore to compete, are very special.

Finally, after years of searching, I had found my sport.