Sports teams gear up for key Varsity weekend

Sports captains across Oxford will be making their final preparations for a busy weekend of Varsity competition in Cambridge.

Teams representing Oxford in ultimate frisbee, lacrosse, korfball, netball, women's football, lifesaving, and basketball will compete in Cambridge on 23 and 24 February, while the cycling competitions will be held in Keswick and the windsurfing on Farmoor Reservoir. Real tennis takes place in London today (22 February) while Oxford will host the powerlifting on Sunday.

The Varsity year is already well underway. Oxford's male and female swimmers won in Cambridge earlier this month, after the men's rugby union players staged a dramatic comeback to beat Cambridge at Twickenham in December. Meanwhile Cambridge won the ski and snowboard matches, cross country, volleyball and the karate competition.

Oxford won the overall Varsity contest last year, boasting 54 wins to Cambridge's 47 (three matches were tied). The Dark Blues won 57-42 in 2011 and 53-46 in 2010.

A major reason for this success 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.

'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,' director of sport Jon Roycroft explained.

So it is no surprise that sports teams are full of confidence going into the weekend. Rebecca Waller, captain of the netball seconds who will play in Cambridge on Sunday, said: 'The last time the Blues and Roos recorded a double win over Cambridge was when we played them at home in 2008.

'Our current squad of 24 talented and committed players is going into this weekend full of confidence after a strong season and we are determined to do the double on Cambridge soil.'