British Universities Rugby Fives Championships
St. Paul’s School, Barnes; November 18-20
STOP PRESS: It was a case of Cambridge defending their titles successfully at this year’s British Universities and Student Championships, the 57th of its kind. Ed Kay looked in a different class in Singles from all his rivals, including his opponent in the final, Ben Beltrami, while the combination of Matt Shaw & Ben Beltrami was too steady for the aspiring pair from Bristol, Ollie Arnold & Theo Parker, who had recently won their first regional title at the Yorkshire Open.
For Ed it was his second consecutive title; for Matt & Ben their third.
In the fiercely contested Plates Francis Thomas had too much fire-power for Rob Whitehorn in the Singles, but Rob was able to combine with Dan Sorensen to win the Doubles Plate.
Organiser David Gardner reports: After an absence of many years the event moved back to London. This seemed to be a logical decision, as many of the potential competitors were Paulines, who all lived locally, thus reducing the cost of the event for many of the students.
St. Paul’s were the host school, for the first time in the 57 year history of the event. We were made extremely welcome and were assisted by many from the School Staff – Sam Roberts & Peter King in particular – and others from the Sports Centre and car park areas, all of whom were most helpful and co-operative. Our thanks go to all of them for helping to make the event such a success!
Whilst on ‘thanks’, I must also mention invaluable pre-event assistance from David Barnes & Ed Kay (our student advisor), whilst without the tireless efforts of Chris Horrocks throughout the entire event things might have ground to a halt!
In the past, where local food outlets have been at some distance, we have provided a little refreshment to keep the players going. On this occasion we were treated to a veritable banquet each day. A delicious array of homemade bagels, sandwiches & cookies were prepared by volunteer Pauline parent, Claire Shaw. These were eagerly consumed by players and spectators alike. Our warmest thanks go both to her and other family members, all of whom contributed to this extremely welcome addition to the event.
We have always been aware that there many potential participants at universities, but with no official club, and often no partner for the doubles, we have been unable to get them to participate. This year a strong effort was made to rectify this situation. With particular help from Bob Dolby chasing school leavers and myself following them all up, we ended up with a record entry of sixteen universities – nine of which had just one player! So the effort was worthwhile.
I had identified at least nineteen possible institutions where we knew there were players, so to get sixteen was encouraging – last year we had just seven! Let’s hope that this trend continues and that some of those ‘singles’ can find a partner next year from the same university.
There is another record worth noting. This year, of the 35 that entered Singles and 19 pairs in the Doubles, everyone appeared and participated! There were one or two minor alterations to pairs due to injury or illness, but no withdrawals at all. This has not occurred in 57 years!
The results of the matches are all recorded below. There were many highly competitive matches, although, strangely enough, only one that went to three games – very unusual.
In the Singles Ed Kay was again dominant and successfully defended his title, despite the efforts of fellow Cambridge opponent Ben Beltrami. Ben had his reward in the Doubles, partnered by Matt Shaw: there they achieved a hat-trick of victories, fending off a strong challenge this time from Bristolians Ollie Arnold & Theo Parker.
The Plate events both went to universities with ‘single’ players. The Singles to Francis Thomas from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and the Doubles to the mixed pairing of Dan Sorensen & Rob Whitehorn (Warwick & Exeter), though Chris Davey played with Rob in some of the games.
The experiment of allowing a single player from a university to form a ‘mixed’ pairing with another singleton appears to have paid off, as we had four such pairings, including both finalists in the Plate and nobody sitting around doing nothing for half the day! Twenty-seven of the thirty-five entrants also played in the Singles Plate!
In conclusion we should mention where they all came from:
The long-distance travel prize goes to new entrants from Aberdeen, with second place to Exeter and Heriot Watt, from Edinburgh;
Durham, Oxford, Cambridge & Bristol are all regulars; Birmingham, Manchester & Edinburgh are welcomed back;
London provided welcome regulars UCL & LSE plus newcomers SOAS; BPP (Law School) & LSHTM (School of Tropical Medicine).
However, the top prize must go to Dan Sorensen from Warwick, who was called from his slumbers at 2.am from a London hospital and asked to be on court at 9.am in London to replace injured fellow Old Bedfordian Chris Davey. Dan duly arrived in good time and is to be commended for his ‘devotion to duty’. But surely that is what this game of Fives is all about?
And what’s more: on Sunday, on the adjoining courts we had the inaugural Ladies U23 championships where there were players from Canterbury Christ Church University, Bristol University, Nottingham University and the University of Southampton, plus a 7-strong squad from Fettes College. Perhaps one day, if the women’s game continues to grow, we may see a Ladies Universities championships.
As for the annual men’s match versus the RFA? If all were to be available it could be the same team that was victorious last season. RFA beware!
Preliminary round: B Chua (LSE) bt M Patterson (Durham) 15-3, 15-2 ; M Hale (Oxford) bt J Angers (Durham) 15-0, 15-1 ; C McKinney (Aberdeen) bt B Rich (Durham) 15-3, 15-7 ; H Mahajan (LSE) bt Ad Wordley (Durham) 15-4, 15-3
1st round: E Kay (Cambridge) bt Chua 15-0, 15-2 ; C Blackaby (Durham) bt J Smith (Manchester) 15-11, 15-4 ; F Thomas (SOAS) bt B Ashraf (Durham) 15-0, 15-6 ; S Russell (BPP) bt G Muscat (Oxford) 15-8, 15-3 ; M Shaw (Cambridge) bt Al Wordley (Durham) 15-4, 15-0 ; Mahajan bt A Ibbetson (LSHTM) 15-3, 15-10 ; S Bhushan (Oxford) bt T McCahon (Durham) 15-2, 15-1 ; O Arnold (Bristol) bt J Manger (Cambridge) 15-0, 15-3 ; D Butler (Edinburgh) bt Hale 15-0, 15-1 ; C Davey (Birmingham) bt T Raikes (Durham) 15-12, 15-6 ; R Whitehorn (Exeter) bt G Marshall (Durham) 15-0, 15-0 ; T Parker (Bristol) bt T Owen (Oxford) 15-2, 15-0 ; A Boyd (Cambridge) bt D Hutt (Durham) 15-7, 15-3 ; I Ackland (Bristol) bt T McFarlane (LSE) 15-3, 15-0 ; J Sinton (Heriot Watt) bye ; B Beltrami (Cambridge) bt McKinney 15-8, 15-5
2nd round: Kay bt Blackaby 15-4, 15-2 ; Russell bt Thomas 15-5, 15-4 ; Shaw bt Mahajan 15-6, 15-3 ; Arnold bt Bhushan 15-1, 15-2 ; Butler w/o Davey; Parker bt Whitehorn 16-15, 15-1 ; Ackland bt Boyd 15-4, 15-6 ; Beltrami bt Sinton 15-2, 15-3
Quarter-finals: Kay bt Russell 15-4, 15-3 ; Shaw bt Arnold 15-10, 15-4 ; Butler bt Parker 15-6, 15-10 ; Beltrami bt Ackland 15-5, 15-6
Semi-finals: Kay bt Shaw 15-4, 15-4 ; Beltrami bt Butler 15-9, 15-12
Final: Kay (Cambridge) bt Beltrami (Cambridge) 15-5, 15-1
Plate: Thomas (SOAS) bt Whitehorn (Exeter) 15-10, 15-2
Preliminary round: Muscat & Owen (Oxford) bt Al Wordley & Marshall (Durham) 15-6, 15-8 ; McCahon & Raikes (Durham) bt McFarlane & I Salim (LSE) 15-6, 15-12 ; W Capstick & M Lewin (UCL) bt McKinney & Shannon (Aberdeen) 15-3, 15-6
1st round: Beltrami & Shaw (Cambridge) Muscat & Owen 15-4, 15-5 ; Ad Wordley & Ashraf (Durham) bt Ibbetson & Smith (LonMan) 15-4, 15-9 ; Chua & Mahajan (LSE) bt Butler & Sinton (Ed. Unis) 15-11, 15-11 ; Russell & Thomas (London) bt Patterson & Rich (Durham) 15-3, 15-0 ; Boyd & Kay (Cambridge) bt McCahon & Raikes 15-10, 15-7 ; Ackland & Manger (BriCam) bt D Sorensen & Whitehorn (WarExe) 7-15, 15-8, 15-6 ; Blackaby & Hutt (Durham) bt Bhushan & Hale (Oxford) 15-2, 15-9 ; Arnold & Parker (Bristol) bt Capstick & Lewin 15-2, 15-0
Quarter-finals: Beltrami & Shaw bt Wordley & Ashraf 15-1, 15-1 ; Russell & Thomas bt Chua & Mahajan 15-6, 15-12 ; Boyd & Kay bt Ackland & Manger 15-9, 16-14 ; Arnold & Parker bt Blackaby & Hutt 15-1, 15-1
Semi-finals: Beltrami & Shaw bt Russell & Thomas 15-4, 15-8 ; Arnold & Parker bt Boyd & Kay 15-13, 15-7
Final: Beltrami & Shaw (Cambridge) bt Arnold & Parker (Bristol) 15-8, 15-11
Plate: Sorensen & Whitehorn (WarExe) bt Ibbetson & Smith (LonMan) 15-9, 15-9