Another successful season for Oxford’s fencing teams leaves them comfortably in second place in terms of Bucs points contributions to the University, having accumulated only six points fewer than Oxford’s hockey teams. Off the back of being named the Oxford University Sports Team of the Year for 2017, the fencers have pushed on to produce some impressive performances, and results, in the first few weeks of 2018.
The women’s Blues have won nine out of their ten matches, accruing 27 points and a hits for/hits against score of 260 along the way, taking them to the top of the Premier South division.
Their closest rivals are Imperial, with six wins, 18 points, and a hits for/hits against score of 43. With characteristic dominance, Oxford won the league following an undefeated quinte, a number of matches fenced over the same weekend, in late January.
Although the women’s 2nd team, the Assassins, lost out to a couple of very strong teams in the form of Loughborough 1st and Birmingham 1st, they also managed to notch up wins against Warwick 1st and Nottingham 2nd in their last quinte of the season on 11 February.
Chiara McDermott, the women’s Blues captain, who spoke to Cherwell about these successes for both women’s teams, said: “Our year has got off to a fantastic start, with the women’s Blues smashing both Bucs quintes to finish top of the Premier South league and gaining a bye to the quarter-finals of the Bucs championships.”
Looking to the future, McDermott went on to say “I am excited to continue our success by beating Cambridge again at our 2018 Varsity Match in March, and am confident we will surpass last year’s achievements for which we were recognised at the 2017 Oxford University Sports Awards, where we won Team of the Year.”
However, success has not been limited to the women’s teams this season. The Assassins sealed their triumph in the Midlands 2B division over the course of a home quinte against Birmingham 2nd, Anglia Ruskin 1st and Oxford Brookes 1st.
Perhaps understandably given the high stakes, the Blues began nervously against Anglia Ruskin, who had clearly strengthened since they were well beaten by the Assassins last year. Anglia Ruskin piled on the pressure until the last set of matches in foil, but this proved to be the strongest weapon for the Assassins, as it had been all season, and they eventually ran out 135-113 winners.
The Assassins won the next game against Birmingham much more comfortably, by a margin of 135 points to 52. Meanwhile, other fixtures played out favourably for them, with Brookes losing to Warwick.
This ensured that, having already beaten every other team in the league this season, the Assassins would be certain of clinching the league title if they won at least one of the matches in their final game, a local derby against Oxford Brookes. Despite losing with both foil and épée weapons, the sabre team put in a determined display to hold off a Brookes upset. They secured victory in the match by 123 to 112 and, more importantly, in the league as a whole.
Three days later, the Assassins added insult to injury for their vanquished Brookes opponents by beating them in the Bucs Midlands Conference Cup, this time in all three weapon categories.
This was a successful start to their title defence, having narrowly won last year’s final against Aston University. This latest in a series of victories saw the Assassins through to the semi-finals of the cup, and from there they will be confident of repeating last year’s feat.