Varsity Term – A call to arms

This term, the majority of Cambridge’s sports clubs will attempt to conquer their Oxford counterparts. TOM BENNETT tells you why you should go see as many Varsity matches as possible.

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Lent term is the term of the Varsity Match. Throughout this term, individuals who you may have noticed occasionally disappearing off to some sort of ‘training’ for a sport that you may or may not have heard of in a dubious collection of stash will start doing so rather more vocally and ostentatiously as their moment in the spotlight approaches. The chances are that at some point this will irritate you, you will find they talk about little else and that they adopt mannerisms you might normally associate with professional sportsmen and women.

Please humour them. They will have long come to terms with the fact that most students in Cambridge don’t care about University sport. No one aside from the absolute purist (and Tab Sport of course) cares that a team may recently have beaten the mighty University of the West of England, but people do care about Varsity matches. Varsity matches are the moment that Cambridge students have in previous years broken from their normal routine to pay a little attention to their sporting contemporaries. It is their moment of glory. This is a tradition that must continue on an even greater scale this year, not for the sportsmen and women but for the sake of Cambridge itself.

Last year’s Varsity water polo match.

If you’ve never been to one, a Varsity match provides a wonderful opportunity to spend an afternoon roundly hurling abuse at Oxford. In previous years Cantab spectators have turned up to watch sports they know nothing about in war paint whilst bearing megaphones, drums, vuvuzelas and any number of other things purporting to be percussion instruments. Crucially, these spectators also maintain a complete lack of decorum.

Too far?

The uninitiated among you might ask why and the answer is ultimately because as a Cantab centuries of tradition demand it of you. The sporting arena, but more importantly the stands surrounding that sporting arena are where Cambridge dominance can be asserted. The stands are where the superiority of Cambridge wit, fancy dress skill and musical skill can be demonstrated while sporting dominance is hammered home on the pitch, court, track or pool.

Every one of you applied to Cambridge because you rightly believe it to be the better of the two and despite this belief being evidenced in pretty much every university league table ever, the sad truth is that Oxonians still believe themselves to be superior. After years of decline the traditional Oxford arrogance somehow still manifests itself. They cling to the ‘Oxbridge’ ideal, failing to recognise the new reality that is Cambridge followed by ‘Doxford’. It seems we must adopt another method to point this out to them as pure reason doesn’t seem to be working.

A sad example of an institution in decline

A Varsity match is such an alternative method, it is a chance knock Oxford down a peg or two. It’s a chance to hand out a beating that they can’t deny. It’s a chance to send them back to Oxford with reminders of their inferiority ringing in their ears.

Obviously you also might want to go down to support your friends and find out a bit more about the sport they spend all their time doing, but that’s very much a secondary consideration.

There are a number of Varsity matches taking place in Cambridge this term and The Tab considers it your duty as a Cantab to go and watch a couple, extra marks will be given for turning up in fancy dress or with an obnoxiously loud instrument (we will publish any photos of Oxford baiting you send us).

We’d like you to outdo this.

Over the course of the term we will be keeping you fully informed on the times and dates of the various matches so you have no excuse!

If you are involved with a sports club and would like your Varsity match covered please email [email protected].uk with dates and details.