Blues too sharp for Oxford

Dom O'Mahony - Sports Reporter 19 February 2010

The 103rd Fencing Varsity Match was eagerly anticipated by both universities. As always, the contest was hotly contested, and legions of supporters from both sides cheered their respective teams on during the day.

The day started with the Women’s Firsts and Men’s Seconds matches. This year had seen Cambridge’s Women’s Firsts meet Oxford’s twice already, and with each team having won one match, both times with tight scores, the Varsity match was set to be close-fought.

The match began with Epee. The Dark Blues were in the lead for the first few bouts, but Cambridge’s strong team won the lead back, finishing 45-37 up.

Next was Sabre, in which the two teams were evenly matched. With great performances from everyone, Cambridge came out on top, beating Oxford 45-43. Going into Foil, the final weapon and Oxford’s strongest, Cambridge had a ten-point margin over Oxford: a definite advantage, but not a decisive one.

The team fenced well, and despite losing the Foil 42-38 (a consolation prize for Oxford), the Light Blues deserved the victory.

The Men’s Seconds team this year was particularly strong, and went into Varsity 2010 looking for a victory. The match started with Epée. After some neat and skilled fencing Cambridge won 45-34 with no significant hurdles.

As this appeared to be Oxford’s strongest weapon, the Light Blues were feeling comfortable going into the foil, despite some technical difficulties with the electric kit. All three foilists performed excellently, with a special mention going to Richard Morris who scored 9-2, 5-0, and 5-1. Kudos also to Rich Booth, who scored a perfect 5-0 after being subbed on last-minute.

Going into the sabre, Cambridge needed five points to win; these were scored comfortably by Matt Tointon who went on to achieve another excellent +10 indicator despite a last-minute push by Oxford.

The afternoon saw the Men’s Firsts and Women’s Seconds match. Hopes were high in the Men’s Blues match after beating Oxford twice in the league this season. Sabre was up first and was won by Cambridge, 45 – 43, after a great turnaround by Anthony Crutchett and Felix Wood in the final two bouts.

In the foil, captain Zach Eaton-Rosen led from the front by winning all his bouts, including a 6-0 demolition of the opposing captain. Solid back-up from the other team members, despite a few hiccups, made the weapon Cambridge’s and the score 45 -33.

This left the Light Blues needing to be within 14 points in the epee to win the match – on past performance a highly achievable target.

However, the star of the show turned out to be from the Oxford team — international fencer Philippe Birget stealing the plaudits – and the match, with a sensational performance. Final score, in their only good news of the day was 115-121 to Oxford.

The Women’s Seconds match commenced with Cambridge’s strongest weapon, foil. Cambridge dominated from the start handing their rivals a 45-22 thrashing. This strong start left Oxford unsettled, and, with the Cambridge epée team at full strength, this weapon was also convincingly won 45-29.

At this stage the team only needed six hits to win the match. The match concluded with a good show from the sabreurs against a strong Oxford team, losing by only 36-45.

The overall result: Cambridge victory by 126 to 96.

Dom O’Mahony – Sports Reporter