Only one month into the year and Oxford already have two BUCS Premier South champions as on the 28th and 29th January, 2023, Women's Fencing and Men's Water Polo Blues won their respective league titles. Here's an in depth look at how they made it to victory:
Women's Fencing Blues - BUCS Premier South Champions 2022/23
Winning the league is not something new for this team. The Women's Blues entered this season as reigning champions, having won the league undefeated in 2021/22 and they are once again, the undefeated winners of the Premier South. The team has fenced 10 team matches so far, including 30 weapon matches, against Bristol, Bath, Cambridge, UCL and Imperial, only losing 2 of those individual weapon matches.
The team’s first match took place in Oxford on the 9th of November against Bath, which they won 126-87. Oxford hosted the first two-day tournament on the 26th and 27th of November, competing against Bristol, UCL, Imperial and Cambridge (fencing Bristol and UCL twice over the two days). The team won every single team match, including all weapons. Following this success, the Women’s Blues travelled to Bath to fence them for the second time. With a few members of the team missing, some team members fenced more than one weapon, yet the team still beat Bath for the second time. With one of our strongest team members away for our last tournament, the team travelled to Cambridge on the 28th of January to fence their last 2 team matches against Imperial and Cambridge. Once again, the team won every single match, including all weapons. As a result, the Oxford fencing Women’s Blues are now the champions of the Premier South.
Needless to say, the Women’s Captain, Bron Hyde, is extremely proud of her team and their amazing performance. There have been occasions where the team has had to pull together, with some members unable to fence for certain matches and with other members having to fill in for them. There have also been occasions where some members have taken back the lead in some weapon matches. One moment in particular was when the team fenced Cambridge for the first time in Oxford. The team had actually already won the team match by that point, yet the epee anchor, Laura Pöysti, refused to let Cambridge take the epee. Oxford came back by 12 points to 5 in the last bout to win all 3 weapons. Other notable moments have included two 45-5 victories in foil, a 45-44 victory against Bath in epee, and no team has yet to score more than 35 against our sabre team – the only one of our weapons not to lose a single match.
The team hope to continue their success moving into the knock-out stage! Can they go one better than last year, make a BUCS Big Wednesday appearance and take the Championship trophy too? Only time will tell, watch this space...
Men's Water Polo Blues - BUCS Premier South Champions 2022/23
A much more dramatic league victory was in store for Men's Water Polo who up until the very last game, sat in 2nd place to Bristol 1st but clinched the title in a dramatic 16-15 victory vs Imperial 1st at Iffley Road on the 29th January.
Oxford's one loss came at the hands of Bristol in the first match of the season but the Dark Blues stayed undefeated after that point, battling and edging past every team they faced to claim the all important 3 points each week. Bristol were the only team stood in their path. Oxford beat them 11-7 on the reverse fixture but were still behind on the head-to-head result so sat in 2nd to Bristol. But in their last match of the season, Bristol finally blinked, slipping to a 14-16 lost at home to Bath, leaving the door open for Oxford to grab the title in their final match only days later.
Here's what Blues Captain, Michael Hampshire, had to say on the team's final match and the league season:
"Oxford needed a win [vs Imperial] to clinch the title. We went 5 goals down after some unlucky goals conceded and some shaking off of the winter cobwebs. However, strong, vigilant defensive work from the goalkeeper and the wingers in the second half allowed the centers to claw back the necessary goals and win us the match.
The lads have really worked hard this year and fought through some rough situations to clinch a well deserved title. I couldn't be more proud. After a difficult first match away in Bristol, we bounced back incredibly and have been undefeated ever since. It's been great to watch the team grow and I think that it is our team spirit and passion for the sport that have enabled us to squeeze out results even when in tight spots like last night. A huge thank you to our coach, Colin, for all he has contributed this year. We are looking forward to the National Championship Finals in the next few weeks and hopefully qualifying for the European Student Games in Hungary this summer."
Winning any BUCS league is no easy feat but in both of these sports, this is the highest division in BUCS, demonstrating a truly remarkable achievement by both teams. We are incredibly proud of the teams efforts and look forward to seeing how they get on in the cup competitions which will be starting later this month.