Cambridge Pythons look to Finish Season with Victory over Oxford Lancers

Sam Rhodes 16 May 2014

The common response to mentioning American Football in Cambridge is surprise- ‘do we even have a team?’

Well not only do we have a team, the Cambridge Pythons compete on a national level against some of the strongest university sides in the country. Even more impressively, the Pythons tore through their schedule this season with a seven game win-streak, losing only two matches all year. Had they not had the misfortune to face defending champions Birmingham early in the play-offs, that run could have been even better. In the face of both injury struggles and a lack of depth, what they have achieved should be highly commended.

Robert Crawford

The season, however, is not over. One match remains, with the Pythons facing the Oxford Lancers in only the third consecutive American Football Varsity game this Saturday. The Pythons lead 1-0 so far due to the first match resulting in a draw, and Oxford will be very keen to wipe out the deficit. As the score-line suggests, American Football in Oxbridge is still developing, and despite their glut of success this season, the Cambridge Pythons still sometimes struggle to find the eighteen players per match mandated by the league.

Python’s wide receiver Alistair Gempf said of the troubles “I think some people that are interested in playing think that they need to be over 6 foot and 120 kg to play. Anybody can play, no matter size, experience playing, or even watching”.

Oxford, in contrast, had a rather more difficult year in one of the toughest divisions in university American Football. Yet to chalk up a win this season, the Lancers concede that they are the underdogs but motivation will be high to restore some team pride. Their official twitter account has said that ‘team focus all season has been to #BeatCambridge’, and an away win at Cambridge could represent a real turning point for the team. Equivalent rivalries in the sport such as the annual ‘Iron Bowl’ between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers have drawn crowds of more than 100,000, with the former team being worth more than $93 million to the university. Whilst the ambitions of this Varsity match might be slightly smaller, it’s definitely worth coming along to see what makes American Football so compelling to so many.

The Cambridge Pythons’ Varsity match will take place Saturday 17th May, 1pm at Coldhams Common, Cambridge.