Life as a fencing BNOC: Elliott Grover and Matt Millin

Elliott’s even represented England

Living with not one but two fencers is always interesting – more than once I’ve been (accidentally) stabbed, our hall is an obstacle course and we’ll always be well-armed against thieves with the amount of blades we have in the house.

One of my housemates fences for England. He may be known as a BNOC and had minor fame on YikYak, but to me he’s just that guy who lives next door. I’m talking about the one and only Elliott Grover.



For Elliott fencing isn’t just a sport, its a way of life, and making it into the top 10 for men’s epee in the country is truly an achievement to be proud of. Travelling all over the world for competitions and training on average three-four times a week takes dedication and commitment; but you’ll still see Elliott in the SU on a Friday night.


Recently being selected to participate in the Senior England 5 Nations as the youngest person in the team was a pretty exciting moment, made even greater when they had a great ride to victory.

While 2nds team captain Matt Millin – or more affectionately known as Mulan – my other fencing housemate, may not have been fencing as long, he’s just as committed. Taking control of the team for the second term, Matt hopes to keep his position for next year as well. But I’m telling you, getting caught in the middle of a fencing lesson between these two in the hall is no joke at all.


What made you start fencing?

Elliott: It may shock people to know that as a 10-year-old I was very socially awkward: my housemates will tell you I still am. I started it at school because I was too short for rugby and I got good at it, so yeah… I still haven’t got the courage to quit 11 years later.

Matt: Well as a classic middle-class guy, fencing was expected of me, or as my father once told me “it is in your blood”. Obviously, one cannot ski all year round so one must pass the time somehow. I’m just kidding, really I started fencing because I needed to do a sport for D of E and wanted to do something different and interesting.


Elliott fencing for England

What is your proudest fencing moment to date?

Elliott: It’s hard to choose: winning gold with the senior men’s epee team at the Five Nations, representing England, and winning my first senior national event at the Invicta open last summer beating a Commonwealth Bronze Medallist 15-14, Rekt. And I won a big pointy sword, and got into the top ten senior rankings this year for the first time.

Matt: It would either be becoming the seconds captain for RHUL or winning against Sussex 2nds team with a team of four (not enough), some of who were fencing swords they weren’t comfortable with or had any experience in… and making Elliott Grover cry when I beat him so bad, you heard it here first, top-five or bust.


The big pointy sword

What is the most expensive piece of fencing equipment you’ve ever bought?

Elliott: My blades – £110 each… and I keep breaking them so they have to be replaced on a fairly regular basis, sad times.

Matt: I’ve bought a sword for £115.

What is it like fencing at RHUL?

Elliott: We are a dedicated and committed team who work together. My experience of Royal Holloway so far is too much for words, I’ve never experienced us losing – we’ve had an 18 win streak. It’s safe to say I’ve met some very special people, although the most time I see them is in the SU… I mean in training, which we all attend…

Matt: Fencing at RHUL is amazing. I’ve met some great fencers and some even better friends. They’ve made me more confident in my abilities and have helped me improve as a fencer. It’s loads of fun going, it’s one of the high points of my week.

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Mulan earning his stripes