Over a quarter of the university’s student body participates in sport at some level, and whether that’s informal college football or seriously competitive university rowing, it’s easy to find a level of commitment and competition that suits you. While colleges put together teams for most sports, the most intense rivalry is reserved for the university (Blues) teams, which compete against Cambridge – the Light Blues – in matches throughout the year. Sports teams also provide a well-deserved break from the books, with college and university teams creating a social hub for team bonding, celebrating and commiserating.
Check out the Univeristy Sport website for more information.
The importance of football at Oxford University should not be underestimated: the rivalry between colleges every year to win the 135-year-old ‘Cuppers’ competition is fierce, while being involved in a Varsity Match versus Cambridge University is a truly unforgettable experience. The best bit about football at Oxford University is that it accommodates all levels of ability, with teams ranging from the 3rd XI of your college to the Men’s and Women’s Blues teams at University level. Regardless of ability level, there is a fantastic structure in place for you to get stuck in and enjoy football during your time here.
Starting with college football, it caters to all abilities with many colleges having three teams. There is a fantastic league structure in place, with multiple division, which helps to keep the competitive element regardless of your level (check out www.ouafc.com). Meanwhile the ‘Cuppers’ cup competition is the FA Cup of university football - full of history and upsets. Plus, the extensive statistics records found on the website would motivate even the most Pirlo-esque midfielder to make that lung-busting run into the box. Being part of your college football club will open up opportunities to get involved in plenty of social events, ranging from crew-dates, to pub crawls to end-of-season curries.
If you think you have a chance of representing the University at football, keep an eye out for information on the trials during Freshers’ Week. There are three University-level men's teams - the Blues (1sts), Centaurs (2nds), Colts (3rds) plus a development squad, and two University-level women’s teams - the Blues (1sts), the Furies (2nds). These play weekly matches in BUCS (British University’s and College Sport) competitions. We also have the Oxford Uni v Oxford Brookes Varsity game which draws a big crowd on a wet and windy night, but the biggest of the lot is undoubtedly the Varsity Match versus Cambridge. The Blues’ Varsity has been held at venues such as Craven Cottage, Selhurst Park, Highbury and the Old Wembley. It has seen crowds in excess of 3000 and, for those involved, it is a chance to go down in Oxford University history for "shoeing the Tabs". Finally, the club is always looking to arrange tours for the different teams, most notably sending the Blues on tour to Japan in December 2014.
Like hoards of freshers every year, I was lured into starting rowing in my first year, enticed by the promise of a BBQ at the freshers’ week taster session, lots of crew dates and social activities and the ability to keep fit without really spending too much money, doing a team sport that is so inextricably linked with Oxford. It was a laugh, and I loved the atmosphere.
So I decided to take the sport further, and I trialled with the lightweights. The training was harder, there was less mucking about, but it was hugely fulfilling. The bit that really stands out to me was the week leading up to the Boat Race. We stayed in Henley as a crew, training on the Boat Race course. We were getting faster, and coming together – there’s nothing quite like it.
When it comes round to Freshers’ Week, let them lure you in. You’ll experience a team sport like never before – each crewmember is utterly dependent on each other. You get to travel (I’ve raced in France, Holland and around the country this year) and it’s a great way to keep fit. Friends and memories for life are made, and you get to wear a slightly disgusting looking blazer with pride. What more could you want?
OUPC is a half blue sports club for anyone who wants to try their hand at polo, whether you’ve never sat on a horse before or are a pro player. It’s by far the cheapest way you’ll ever be able to play polo, and if you don’t particularly fancy the sporting side of things, the social life of the club is also amazing – we have events ranging from casual BBQs in Trinity Term to our annual white tie ball in Blenheim Palace. The club is also really close-knit, making it a fantastic way to form lifelong friendships! We also have what is arguably THE best stash of any uni sports club – where else can you get a personalised riding hat, a beanie and socks?!
I love horses, but hadn’t ridden for a few years before coming to uni. I decided I wanted to get involved with a sports club, to meet some people outside my college, and also wanted to rekindle my love affair with horse riding – and polo ticked both boxes!
My best polo experience was either the first white tie ball in Blenheim Palace (everyone was so fancy, and there were even polo ponies in attendance!) or the first time that I managed to hit the ball whilst galloping. I’d never played polo before uni, so this felt like a huge achievement!
I would really recommend polo as a sport which is so freeing, adrenaline-filled, and varied, and as a club which will end up being your Oxford family! It’s also a great break from work, especially as it’s the only club where you escape the boundaries of the city to charge around the countryside on horseback.
We play full contact 15 aside rugby union. Before Oxford I’d never had the opportunity to play rugby, it was something only offered to the boys in PE so university finally gave me the chance to try it out. After signing up at Freshers’ Fair I turned up to my first training session and was hooked. We don’t have trials and we have two full teams, our Blues squad and our Panthers squad, which allows players of all abilities to play matches and train. We train together, play together on the pitch and then have socials together; your teammates really do become your best friends. I’ve gone from never having played rugby to President of the Women’s Rugby team within two years, and I’ve never found a group of girls who are so committed. This year is our biggest yet as our Varsity Match will be played at Twickenham, the home of English rugby.
St John's netball club is a casual, friendly club for all abilities - great for me because even though I love netball I'm not a star player!
I found out about it at Freshers’ Fair and joined up. I found it really daunting at first to go along to a club where a lot of the members in the older years already knew each other, but they were so friendly and welcoming I shouldn't have worried at all.
My best experience has been making friends with the team. Most of my teammates are in different years to me and studying different subjects, so it's lovely to have a chance to get to know them. Crewdates (dinners joint with another sports team) are so much fun as we all get along so well!
It's a fun and friendly way to make some new friends, stay fit and continue doing a sport that lots of people are probably already vaguely familiar with from school. All abilities are welcome so there's no feeling as if you might not be good enough!