Twenty-nine teams entered, but only one emerged victorious. No, it wasn’t Teddy Hall, who were trying to repeat as champions after winning it all in 2014. It wasn’t New, who escaped a challenging group unscathed and seemingly with all the momentum on their side. Nor was it Oriel, who entered the tournament as league winners, intimidating as always. Instead, Somerville were crowned as Netball Cuppers Champions after defeating Keble in the final, preventing the latter from pulling off the Cupper’s double after winning the men’s Rugby Cuppers days prior.
With the sun shining over the six courts at the Marston Community Centre, over two hundred girls played in the one-day tournament, cheered on by an impressive gathering of supporters university-wide. After beating Oriel in what would be the upset of the day, Teddy Hall joined New, Somerville and Keble in the semifinals. Unfortunately for Teddy Hall, their tournament ended there, as they were unable to rattle a strong Keble side, backed by a commendable cheer-squad that included a few of the members from the victorious rugby team. In the other match, Somerville defeated New, led by their infallible Goal Defence Harriet Dixon, Somerville’s sole Blues player, who proved pivotal in orchestrating an impenetrable defence throughout the tournament. The final was expectedly tight, in which Somerville was able to withstand a Keble onslaught in the first half before rallying to victory in the second.
Over two hundred girls played in the one-day tournament
The matches were short but extremely competitive, yet what impressed Hebe Westcott, the OUNC Cuppers and League secretary, the most however was the sportsmanship demonstrated by the players. Complaints about umpiring were also minimal, as everyone cooperated with the umpires who were provided by each team and thus not necessarily experienced with the rules of the game. ‘I don’t think the competition negatively affected any team’, commented Westcott. ‘There were plenty of apologies for stepping on toes, which strongly contributed to the sportsmanly atmosphere of the day’.
This is particularly good news for netball, which has somewhat of a negative reputation with regards to sportsmanship. Despite this, netball has nonetheless become increasingly popular over the last few years, at least from a college-participation point of view. With the intention of promoting the sport of netball further, Westcott was extremely pleased that twenty-nine teams competed this year, which was nine more than the year prior, with entries ranging from big-name colleges, like Oriel and New, to perpetual university underdogs such as Regent’s Park and Osler.
Netball has become increasingly popular over the last few years
Netball Cuppers was a success not only in terms of the organization and participation, but also with regards to providing students with an opportunity to embrace sports and compete for their respective colleges. Out of the two hundred or so players that participated in this year’s Netball Cuppers, only a handful had played the sport at university-level – most were either novices who were trying the sport out and getting a feel for the game or players who haven’t competed since high school. This isn’t at all to say that the quality of the games was low; it’s more of an indication of how Cuppers can get more people involved in sports and help generate a friendly sporting competitiveness to distract many from the stress of weekly essays and revision.
In the end, this is what Cuppers is supposed to be about – to remind people that sports do not always have to be as intense or as savage as sometimes advertised, and that it should ultimately be fun. Why else would we play sports in the first place?