Varsity Dodgeball: (Almost) A True Underdog Story

DODGEBALL: Cambridge’s Average Joes don’t quite master the five Ds.

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Most people’s experience of dodgeball extends to the famous and ridiculous 2004 film.

However, it is now one of the most widely-played sports in the USA and is rapidly gaining popularity this side of the Atlantic; many British universities now have teams.

Cambridge have been late to the party and on Sunday, its fledgling dodgeball team took on an Oxford side who train every week and have already competed in tournaments.

Cambridge star Oliver Thicknesse was keen to stress the difference in preparation between the teams, contrasting Cambridge’s “mere two screenings of the film” with Oxford’s “harsh routine of 5am runs, followed by intense wrench dodging.” Captain Calum Harvey-Scholes also remarked upon the professionalism of the Oxford side, describing them as “a team with shareholders… we don’t even have cup-holders.”

The inaugural Dodgeball Varsity Match was more tightly-fought than anyone could have anticipated and, although Oxford went home as champions, the Cambridge side can hold their heads high after an astonishingly strong performance.

The Cambridge team line up before the game

Unusually for dodgeball, the match was played outside. This would have made little difference had it not been for Sunday’s icy wind and sleet. Repeatedly catching, gripping and throwing a ball in such conditions is extremely difficult and it was the more experienced Oxford side who took the first game of the best-of-7 match, sustaining only one hit in the process.

The match looked to be one-way traffic when Cambridge went down to one man in the second game, but after what were generously described by some as heroics from Charlie Palmer, Cambridge equalised. From that point on, the teams traded games, Cambridge equalizing once more to make it 3-3 and force a decider.

Unfortunately, Oxford’s 19-strong squad ensured that they could rest players whose hands had frozen and their fresher players dashed Cambridge’s hopes at the death as the Other Place triumphed 4-3.

Harvey-Scholes was understandably upbeat about the close score line, describing Sunday as “the genesis of something transcendental.” He emphasised that Cambridge would be looking for the win next year; “Next year we travel to Oxford to show them how the game is really played. Nobody makes us bleed our own blood.”