Oxford University Company of Archers lamented its failure to win the Rose Bowl from Cambridge University Bowmen after the closest Varsity Match in living memory.
In spite of a previous defeat at a grudge match in Hilary, where the suspension of usual shooting etiquette saw Oxford’s attempts to put off Cambridge disturb their own team more than the opposition, hopes had been high that this might be the year for Oxford to break their decade long losing streak, and bankrupt their rivals with the backlog of trophy engraving fees.
The venue was the picturesque St John’s College, Cambridge, where a large number of tourists were able to peer from behind their umbrellas at blue-clad bowmen doggedly shooting through the afternoon showers, and as they arrived, Oxford knew that although they could not afford to waste a shot, their optimism was not unfounded.
The two teams had been unbelievably close during the indoor shooting season over Michaelmas and Hilary terms. Oxford beat Cambridge in three out of five tournaments, with the narrowest victory on Cambridge’s home ground, a borrowed rifle range known as the Tabcave, where they drew on scores; on that occasion, Oxford won by virtue of having more arrows in the highest scoring gold ring of the target.
Victory was finally clinched over the tabs for the first time since the ’90s at the end of Hilary in the BUTTS Midlands League, with just 20 points separating their team totals of almost 10,000 apiece, and Oxford finished an overall second to league victors Warwick.
Unfortunately Oxford was unable to maintain their winning streak once out of doors, at the longer distances of 80, 60 and 50 yards for men, and 60, 50, 40 yards for the women. The team of Angelina Measures (St Hilda’s), David Longworth (St Catz), Ellen Davnall (Merton) and Sam Johnson (Jesus) lost by a miniscule 17 points, despite their total of 3394 eclipsing Oxford’s previous Varsity team record.
Cambridge, on the other hand, only narrowly missed a new overall Varsity team record, with their team captain scoring comfortably over 900 out of a possible 972, some 50 points above Oxford’s top score.
Oxford’s novice archers were also unlucky. In spite of having only taken up archery in Michaelmas, and only recently bought their own equipment, Tom Jones (Univ), Wei-Yu Wang (Teddy Hall), Hayley Boot (Oriel) and Pippa Joyce (Oriel) put in an impressive 2411, the second highest total an Oxford novice team has managed, but Cambridge shot to victory with a total of 2654.
Team member and club secretary Hayley Boot was philosophical however; ‘It’s surprising that we managed to lose when so many of our archers have shot great scores today. It just shows we’re getting closer and closer to ending Cambridge’s winning streak.’
Club President Marc Tamlyn agreed. ‘Obviously it was very disappointing to miss out on the Rose Bowl, especially given the team’s record breaking performance.
However, credit must go to an outstanding performance by Rob Fryers (Cambridge Captain) and we can take heart from the fact that all the members of the team will be here next year, and so their performance will hopefully be even better. I believe that with this momentum we will now be able to challenge Edinburgh’s dominance at Outdoor BUSA in 9th week.’
And with the next Varsity match back on home ground, revenge will be on the Dark Blues’ mind as they set their sights higher and aim for victory.