The rugby Varsity Match will return to Twickenham on the 12th of DecemberThe Varsity Match (Twitter)

A new academic year is upon us, and with it comes a blockbuster Michaelmas term of sport in Cambridge. The first term is often treated as a platform from which teams across the University can gradually establish momentum for the remainder of their seasons, and this year will be no exception. 

Some competitors, however, won’t have the luxury of slowly building into their seasons as they prepare for important fixtures towards the end of the term, and this includes Varsity contests in no less than three sports.

The headline act, as always, is the rugby Varsity match against Oxford, which this year will be held on Thursday the 12th of December at Twickenham. This year’s match will be the 138th time the two sides have met, with Cambridge leading the all time ledger with 63 wins to 60 (with 14 draws). The Light Blues’ are hoping to avenge last year’s 38-16 loss to Oxford last year, and will be significantly boosted by the arrival of both the former Australian captain James Horwill and former Springbok Flip van der Merwe. The two second-rowers are both studying for Executive MBAs at Queens’ College, and are likely to add some much needed experience and physicality to the Cambridge forward pack.

Also facing off against Oxford this term are the Hares & Hounds (cross country) and the Cambridge University Ski Race Club. The Hares and Hounds will head to Wimbledon Common on the 7th of December, and face an uphill battle after Oxford dominated last year’s encounter. The Ski Race club, meanwhile, will be hoping to reprise last year’s success in the skiing Varsity, which is held during the Varsity Trip in Val Thorens. Having won the women’s title last year, they will no doubt also be aiming to return the men’s title back to their trophy cabinet.


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Michaelmas also marks the start of the season for many teams competing in the various College competitions. Football Cuppers begins in the fourth week of term, when Fitzwilliam will commence their quest for a fourth consecutive men’s trophy, while Pembroke is the defending champion in the women’s competition. Rugby also gets underway with the start of the league, a title which last year’s victors, St John’s, will be looking to retain.

And finally, there are the many students (mainly freshers) who will begin new sports as novices. The quintessential novice sporting event of the calendar is of course Queens’ Ergs, which this year will be held on Sunday the 10th of November. This somewhat bizarre event is usually a college rower’s first competition, and consists of crews racing one another on indoor rowing machines. It will be followed as usual by the on-water Emmanuel Sprints and Clare Novices regattas on the 7th Sunday and 8th Saturday of Michaelmas, respectively. On the final Saturday of term is the Fairbairn Cup regatta, which is the most prestigious novice rowing event consisting of a 2.7 kilometre head (time-trial) race. The senior division of the Cup, which is held over 4.3 kilometres and which is closely fought for in its own right, will be held the day after.

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