Sport at Cambridge: It’s more than just Rowing and Rugby

It’s time for some of Cambridge’s more obscure sports to share the limelight

eton fives korfball Sport Tab

Rugby and rowing get all the headlines because of their relatively high standard and glamorous Varsity matches – last year both Twickenham and the River Thames played host to Cambridge as they took on Oxford. But starting at Cambridge provides the ideal opportunity to reinvent yourself and start something new.

So, helpful as ever, The Tab has profiled some of Cambridge’s weirder and wackier sports. Hopefully you’ll find something that you like and who knows, you may even end up with a blue – a genuine possibility, I kid you not.

Eton Fives

Don’t be put off by the name. While neither “Eton” nor “Fives” sound normal, they’re better than the sport’s more rough-and-ready label, “hand squash”, which makes Fives sound like squash’s handicapped cousin. The comparison with squash gives you an idea of the premise of the sport, but falls woefully short in capturing the game’s speed and difficulty.

One of the University Sports Centre’s fives courts

Players use their gloved hands to propel a small ball around an irregularly shaped court. The games also has some unique features. A buttress protrudes into the middle of the court and the serve may be rejected if it is not to the receiver’s liking.

A good fives players should be ambidextrous, have excellent hand-eye coordination and good agility. People pick up fives from all sporting backgrounds or none. For more information click here for CUEFC’s website.


If you find basketball or netball a bit too straightforward then korfball might just be the sport for you. The biggest difference is the height of the net or ‘korf’. It is 3.5m high so slam dunks are out of the questions.

The Cambridge first team in action

Korfball has the added novelty of being a mixed sport; teams are comprised of four men and four women. While this has lead to some double standards, it also makes the sport very sociable and enjoyable. CUKC’s website can be found here.

Modern Pentathlon

Do you enjoy running? How about swimming? Do you like horses too? Can you handle a gun and a sword? If the answer to all of those questions is yes, then you are either a 19th century marine or a modern pentathlete star in the making.

The final leg of the 2014 Modern Pentathlon Varsity gets under way

A full modern pentathlete is contested over a fencing contest, 200m swimming, a showjumping event and a 3.2km run with pistol shooting every 800m.

CUMPC enjoyed a successful season last year with both their men’s and women’s teams coming out on top against Oxford. Most people get into modern pentathlon through experience in two or three disciplines but CUMPC is always happy to welcome newcomers. Anyone interested can find their website here.

Real Tennis

Lord’s is primarily associated with cricket but it is also the home of real tennis. Superficially the sport resembles its lawn cousin but, as it takes place on an indoor court, players may use the angled walls. This adds an extra layer of tactical and technical intrigue.

The victorious women’s real tennis team after this year’s Varsity match

The game is most accessible to those with a racquet sport background and CULTC is always looking for new members. CULTC is also one of the few university sports clubs that is not open exclusively to Cambridge students.  For more information click here for the club’s website.

And there you have it. Four sports that might be an easy way to a Blue. Not that a Blue matters, of course.