dos and don’ts of sport at oxford: a fresher’s guide

From the dangers of freshers’ fairs to why not to row


University Level Sport

DON’T go to the University trials for mainstream sports such as rugby, swimming or tennis unless you’re really rather good.

DO feel free to try out something completely new. You’ll rarely get the chance to try your hand at a lot of the odd activities which Oxford offers for the rest of your life. Who knows: Corfball, Octopush or Ultimate Frisbee could turn out to be a hidden talent of yours, and you might even get a cheeky half-blue out of it.

DON’T be bullied into signing up for things in which you aren’t at all interested at freshers’ fairs. You’ll spend the rest of your degree trying to rid your email of spam.

DO get swept up in the fervent tribalism of the boat race, the varsity rugby match, etc. It’s a part of being a Dark Blue.

Dark Blues celebrate Boat Race victory in 2009

College Level Sport 

DO get involved with college sports teams. One of the fantastic things about the Oxford collegiate system is that you don’t really need any talent in order to have a go at various sports, provided you are enthusiastic. For example, your college football first team probably plays to a reasonable level, but their third team is pretty much guaranteed to be a bit of a joke, so anybody can find an appropriate level at which to play.

DON’T think that your work commitments at Oxford will leave you no time for hobbies. You have the opportunity to live a well-rounded life whilst you’re studying here. Playing sport keeps you healthy and relieves stress, so it can improve the quality of your work. Probably…


DON’T join your college boat club. Unless, that is, you’re willing to commit a lot of time to it, and you love early mornings, cold water sessions, long runs, alcohol bans and wearing lycra onesies. In which case you’ll probably find it a really rewarding occupation, a good way to make friends and socialise and a chance to participate in an extremely famous Oxford tradition. So this isn’t really a strict don’t…