Touche! Light Blues outmanoeuvre Oxford

Ellie Wigham and Bill Thanhouser 7 March 2013

On Saturday, the Light Blues won a hard fought contest against arch-rivals Oxford in the 106th annual Varsity Fencing match. Both the men’s and women’s Light Blues had defeated Oxford previously in the term, but with the added pressure of a home crowd, tensions were still high.

The men’s team secured a second consecutive Varsity victory and brought their total score in the long-running contest to 54-52, in Cambridge’s favour.

A formidable saber squad started off the three-weapon relay for Cambridge, heavily outscoring Oxford in a 45-22 rout. First year Harry Boteler, coming off an impressive 3rd place finish at last week’s BUCS Individual Championships, was in exemplary form and made quick work of Oxford’s veteran sabreurs. William Thanhouser, Simon Whitaker and Matthew Tointon were no less dominant, giving Oxford little hope of celebration.

The Cambridge foil squad had to demonstrate greater resolve, but anchored by Full Blue Matthew Fitton, they prevailed in an extremely close 42-44 contest.

New arrival Derrick Roberts showed incredible poise in his first Varsity appearance, while Captain Niccolo Zanchi repeatedly embarrassed the Oxford squad with his perfectly executed counter-attacks.

In addition, Richard Morris rose to the challenge when called from the bench to earn the squad a crucial victory late in the game.

Cambridge entered the final leg of the match with a 19 point cushion, but the epee squad took no chances. Oxford, intent on staging a late comeback, took an early lead.

However, they were unable to pull away, thanks to the staunch defence of squad anchor David Burnside and Valentin Dalibard. The Oxford surge came to an end midway through the match, when Nicolas de Juniac crushed opposition captain, Satya Gunput. As Dark Blue hopes faded, Cambridge surged. The winning touch followed soon after, scored in the next bout by Matthew Rowland.

All that remained was for the deflated Oxford team to file out of the venue. On the contrary, the Light Blues, revelling in their victory, were already looking forward to having the Shield back at the Hawks’ club, where it belongs.

The women started equally strong, with Ewa Bielczyk-Maczynska leading the sabre team to a 15 hit lead. An experienced Epee team of Captain Ellie Wigham, Elina Vaananen, Emma Byatt and Abbie Harvey followed suit, triumphing again by 15 hits.

Going into foil, Oxford had a lot of catching up to do.

However, this is the strongest foil team that Cambridge has seen in years. The fearsome combination of Grace Stafford, Yasmin Cazorla Bak, Harriet Hall and Alex Craig ensured that the Dark Blues didn’t stand a chance. They won by 17 hits, leaving the final score at Cambridge 133-86 Oxford.

Ellie Wigham and Bill Thanhouser