Controversy has arisen over the result of the recent Equestrian Varsity Match, with the Oxford team accused of altering the points system in their favour.
The match, which is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious equestrian events of the year, took place on Thursday 8th March.
At the time, the Cambridge team were ruled to have beaten Oxford after scoring highly in the dressage and show jumping and left the competition with medals and in jubilant spirits.
However, on returning home, they were greeted with an email informing them that owing to a change in the scoring, they were no longer the victors, and that the Oxford team had actually won by a single point.
In equestrian competitions it is usual for the home team, which was Oxford on this occasion, to decide upon the weightings for the scores each of the events. However the change in result was so drastic that the Cambridge team appealed to the Oxford Sports Federation and requested that the event be reviewed.
After further consideration from the Federation, the win was instead awarded to the Cambridge team.
A statement from the Oxford Sport’s Federation explained that the confusion was “understandable” as “the Equestrian Varsity Match, along with most Equestrian events has a complicated scoring system, which has been amended several times in recent years.”
They further explained that “some confusion” existed with regards to the scoring system which “couldn’t be cleared up on the day” as the Cambridge team were forced to leave “very soon after the event.”
They added that a discussion then ensued between the two captains, and it was decided that “as announced at the match, Cambridge were the overall winners.” Both captains agreed to devise a “definitive written scoring system” to prevent similar confusion in future years.
Despite this, several Cambridge players expressed a degree of frustration regarding the event. The Cambridge team captain, Charlie Flammiger, told the Cambridge student paper, the Tab, that “we played by their rules, and won by their rules. Like any other sport they can’t be changed after the event”. Flammiger admitted that the problem had been resolved but commented that “it’s a shame that the competition was soured by the confusion.”
Several Cambridge students claim to be angered by the confusion. A first-year student commented, “Oxford’s behaviour is awful sportsmanship and very childish; they should stick to the original scoring method and accept that the light blues won.”
Another member of the riding team described Oxford’s actions as “outrageously poor sportsmanship” and congratulated the Cambridge team on winning despite the fact that “the odds were stacked against us”.
However, Jack Gallagher, a first-year studying French and Arabic at Oxford commented, “Let’s be clear – I don’t like horses and I don’t like Tabs. Both are quite frankly jumped up beasts of burden. However in this case there seems to have been genuine confusion by the Oxford side. Any dispute they had should have been settled at the time; claiming victory does smack of bad sportsmanship. But we mustn’t let the rivalry that makes varsity matches so exciting lead us into accusations of cheating”.