Oxford University’s sports teams beat Cambridge 57-42 in all Varsity events in 2011 and came tenth in the national higher education sporting league tables, Oxford Sports Review magazine has revealed.
Many people will already be aware of Varsity victories for the men’s rugby union team (21-10), men’s footballers (3-1) and the four-length victory in the Boat Race, but few will have heard about the men’s and women’s double victory in the cross country race on Wimbledon Common, the men’s and women’s triumphs in basketball (the women beat Cambridge 73-42), and the windsurfing win at Huntingdon Sailing Club.
Strong performances by teams throughout the year also helped Oxford maintain its top ten position in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) league, securing tenth place out of 145 competing higher education institutions, with 1872 points. The cycling club earned 108 points in their BUCS Championship – the highest score of any Oxford club - while the sailing team scored 50 points more than they managed last year and swimmers earned 60 points, helped by a 50 metre butterfly gold for Olympic hopeful Jack Marriott.
Jon Roycroft, director of sport at Oxford University, said: ‘This is a tremendous achievement because Oxford’s teams have outperformed many universities who put on sports courses and are more flexible with academic requirements for sportsmen and women. Most students I come across are exceptionally talented, motivated, supremely well-organised people who are able to manage their time in discussion with tutors to play sport for their club, college and, in some instances, country.’
The University has extended its lead over Cambridge in the overall Varsity rankings, having beaten their rivals 53-46 last year. A major reason for this success, Mr Roycroft said, is Oxford University’s Sports Federation, which was set up in 2000 and consists of a student-elected sabbatical officer and full-time professionally appointed staff. He said: ‘Rather than students having to arrange all fixtures, travel arrangements and insurance themselves, trained staff can do this for them, allowing them to focus on their studies and the more traditional aspects of their sport.’
Oxford’s indoor sports received a further boost last year when plans to redevelop the Iffley Road sports complex received planning approval. Mr Roycroft said: ‘The planned expansion of the Iffley Road complex will treble the amount of indoor court space, which will greatly benefit student sports clubs and other more casual users who want to play sports like basketball and badminton, and truly multi-use activity rooms will open up thousands of hours of new sporting opportunities.’ A fundraising campaign is underway for the Iffley Road development.