The most difficult thing to grasp about Judo is the fact that a match can last anything between five seconds and five minutes. The platitudes that make up pre-match preparation can only do so much once you step onto the mat and everything in excess falls away, honing your focus into a razor’s edge.
The annual Cambridge-Oxford Varsity Match embodies this spirit, ending a training year by celebrating another year of top-notch Judo in both institutions.
We started the day tentatively confident, hoping to retain the Men’s B, Women’s and City team trophies for a third year running as well as to give it our best to bring home the Men’s A trophy. Backed by this year’s success in competitions including the recent BUCS competitions where for the first time in memory, not just one but two team medals were bagged by the Men’s and Women’s teams, we were confident of giving Oxford a good run for their money and ready to give our best on the mats.
This is the third varsity that I’ve attended, but I’m never quite prepared for the level of stress that can be experienced in less than two hours. Nail biting doesn’t quite cut it, the competition is indeed heart stopping, and I’m sure many an Oxbridge judoka has wondered if they would have a heart attack during the game.
It started out easily enough, as it always does, with the City team taking the lead. From there, things went progressively downhill, picking up speed during the roller coaster that is the annual Varsity Match. Many have wondered what may happen if Oxford and Cambridge each won four matches out of a team of eight and this was tested this year when at the end of eight matches, the score stood at 4-all. Down to the wire, the Judges were forced to count the points, with the difference between a shido and a waza-ari securing the win for Cambridge.
With one down and three matches remaining, the Women’s team next took to the mats, with Oxford one player down, it looked good for the Women’s team, and they pulled away with a clear 4-1 win for Cambridge. The Men’s B team followed closely, and included a stunning display of skills from lower graded judoka home grown by CUJC; they finally came away with a 6-1 win.
Finally, the Men’s A team was up. The most closely contested and final competition, tension in the air was palpable as the team from Cambridge faced a physically larger team. Six fights later, the score was still a very close draw, with each side rallying behind their team. Alas, the final fight went to Oxford. But with the level of skill and determination showed by both teams, losing was no shame, especially considering the fact that the fight has been closer and closer each year. This year, we came within a hair’s breadth of the trophy with a 4-3 win to Oxford.
With Cambridge coming away with the City, Women’s and Men’s B trophies for the third year running and Oxford taking the Men’s A trophy, the formalities were dispatched with. Both teams headed for the annual Varsity dinner and post-dinner social. The consumption of much alcohol ensued, along with the swapping of stories, solidification of friendships and the solid win by Cambridge of the Boat Race.
This year, the Judo Varsity Women’s trophy (affectionately named ‘The Fruit Bowl’) turns 50. With another Varsity over, we are reminded that CUJC has much to look back on and even more to look forward to. Each and every member of CUJC, past and present, is part of a club with a rich heritage, many legendary stories, and the platform upon which numerous friendships have been formed.
—Madeline Ang, President
We entered 8 competitors this year at the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) judo championships held at Sheffield on 21–22nd February. The first day was the 1st Kyu and Dan grades competition for individuals. Andrés entered in the -60kg category and started in a promising pool of four. After two very tough and long fights, he was unfortunately not able to make it through to the knock-out rounds, his last opponent defaulting because of an injury. Both Josh and Rio were in the -66kg category, a very tough one with several nationally ranked players. Despite winning one fight and lasting 1’18” against a bronze world medalist, Josh didn’t make it though his pool. Rio had several successes through the pool and knock-out, until he faced a player from Anglia Ruskin in the round of 8. A second of hesitation on whether the referee was calling matei ruined his hopes for medal. In -73kg, Rob was also competing against high class judoka, and unfortunately lost his two pool fights. Last but not least, Lawrence made a very good start, finishing first in his pool, but lost in the round of 16.
On the women’s side, Suvi was competing in the -52kg category and made it through her pool after winning one of her fights on a waza-ari throw followed by a hold. She unfortunately lost the quarter finals but earned a bronze medal in the process, bringing a ray of sunshine for Cambridge on that tough day! Marine was fighting -63kg and did not make it though her pool after fighting four stronger opponents. Finally, Maddie managed a victory in her pool, but unfortunately not enough to bring her to the knockout phase.
After such a tough day, we decided to have dinner in town and went back to the hotel under the protective eyes of our coaches Nick and Alec, preparing for the next day.
The team competition was held on the Sunday afternoon and we were feeling well rested when we started the competition. Both the men and women were in a large pool of four, giving us plenty of fights to express our determination. The men were starting with the obvious disadvantage of fighting well above their weight categories, being up to 20kg lighter than their opponents! They won 3-2 against Durham university, and 4-1 against Strathclyde, and only conceded three victories to Nottingham, particularly thanks to Rob beating a much heavier opponent and Lawrence demonstrating once again his quick efficiency. The match against Glasgow in the round of 8 was epic. We also very much enjoyed Rio’s quick and strong strangle that left his opponent no chance! Josh had a 5-minute fight against Rudi from Glasgow, in which he demonstrated some strong attacking judo, and ended in a draw. After the referees noted that the teams drew overall, they were selected to refight and Josh brought victory to the team in a minute through a shido. The quarter finals were lost against Bath, who eventually won the whole contest allowing our team to go for a repechage fight against Plymouth. Eager to win, all the team members gave an exceptional effort and provided a whitewash for Cambridge! A very good ending for a well earned bronze medal!
The women’s team consisted of three players, with no weight categories. Our team’s first pool fight was against London University, winning 2-1 thanks to Suvi and Maddie, in a decisive battle. The Glasgow team was very heavy and left us no chance—they went on to finish second overall. The last team was Plymouth which we beat 2-1 again, leading to a draw in number of victories and points with London. As we had won against them, we proceeded to the knock-out phase. The quarter final was against Nottingham, winner of the contest and despite Marine scoring a waza-ari at one point, we could not get through. The repechage, on the other hand, was much more successful, with the team securing a bronze medal by beating Birmingham 2-1.
Two teams for two medals, what a brilliant result with no precedent in our coaches’ memory! We would like to thanks them particularly, as they have not only trained us all year long, but also took the time to come with us for the competition and were great support!
—Marine Dupoiron, Women’s Captain
A massive congratulations to all our Varsity teams and our BUCS teams.
Both the men’s and women’s teams managed to achieve a very impressive bronze medal in the BUCS teams events (for the first time in the memory of our coaches!). Additionally, after a day of hard-fought fighting and much impressive judo, Cambridge managed to retain the Men’s B, Women’s and City trophies, and put up a brilliant fight for the Men’s A trophy, with either side able to win right up to the last fight.
More detailed match reports to come soon!
Hopefully you’ve all had a nice holiday, but now’s the time to burn off those mince pies and lose the brandy: training’s back on Tuesday 6th January!
Due to a reshuffle in the Sports Centre timetable, our training times will be changing to:
The first session to be affected will be the one on Thursday, 2nd October 2014.