Students have reacted with confusion to the news that the annual Oxford-Cambridge fencing match will take place in the Exam Schools next month.
Oxford’s fencing teams have been training since the beginning of the academic year, attending three sessions a week.
Despite narrowly losing to Cambridge twice this season, fencing fans remain hopeful that the match will provide an Oxford victory.
Alexander Robinson, third-year Biochemistry student at Christ Church and Captain of the Oxford Men’s Fencing Team, said that he has personally fenced the Cambridge team eight times since arriving at Oxford. He said that beating Cambridge is, “just something we as a team are going to do”.
Women’s Captain Francine Robb, who studies History and French at Brasenose, showed a similar competitive spirit, claiming that her team took pride in, “putting on a better show than our Tab counterparts”. Whilst the team “are not as naïve to think that we shall trample them,” she said that she has “every faith that with hard work and the backing of a dark blue home crowd we can prevail”.
This year’s event also sees the addition of large multimedia screens displaying scores and showing action replays. The match will also be live streamed online. According to the event’s Facebook page, these features are “unparalleled” amongst other Varsity matches.
Commenting on the event’s location in the Exam Schools, Francine Robb stated her belief that, “it really echoes the history and tradition of the event.”
“When the room is filled with supporters the atmosphere is absolutely electric,” she said.
Corpus Christi fresher Megan Erwin, who plans to attend the event, said she was “super excited” and “hoping for an Oxford victory”.
“Fencing isn’t usually seen as a spectator sport, which is weird because I think that it’s so much more interesting to watch than football or rugby,” she said.
Another excited spectator spoke of his amusement over the event’s location: “It seems so funny having what is essentially a sword-fighting tournament in such an old and dignified building. What next, rifle shooting in the Rad Cam?”