Despite falling short in the foil and sabre, the men’s domination of the épée ensured overall victoryCambridge University Fencing Club

Last Saturday (5/3) saw the Light Blues take on Oxford in the 114th Varsity Fencing Match in the cavernous main auditorium of the Cambridge Corn Exchange. With four Cambridge teams facing off against their equivalents from the Other Place, the stage was set – both literally and metaphorically – for the first fencing showdown with a live audience since March 2020 for Cambridge University Fencing Club, one of the University’s oldest and most decorated sports clubs. In front of a packed chamber of Old Blues, friends, family members, and many a Dark Blue guest, the teams crossed swords under lights more often reserved for the likes of Adele and David Bowie.

For the third year in a row, the men’s Blues, under captain Trevelyan Wing, bested their Oxonian rivals, further burnishing their undefeated 2021-22 season record. The visitors did not make it easy – fielding an exceptionally talented side featuring arguably the best sabre team in the country – but the Light Blues held their own, fighting to a 40-45 finish in the foil, notching up a commanding 45-25 victory in the épée, and vigorously contesting the sabre with a 35-45 result, racking up an overall 120-115 win against the Dark Blues. Standout performances included sabreur Jamie Klein’s decisive defeat of Oxford’s star anchor and Will Yun-Farmbrough’s devastating 9-4 run in the foil. 

The women’s squad missed Rania Rahardja and Zara Liu, who both sustained injuries prior to VarsityCambridge University Fencing Club

Meanwhile, women’s Blues captain Lauren Brigden deftly made the best of a difficult situation after two injuries took out épée anchor Rania Rahardja and sabre anchor Zara Liu prior to Varsity, reorganising the team in the run-up to the event and leading a spirited side of Light Blue women despite heavy odds stacked against them.

They battled the Oxonians to a 96-134 finish, losing 23-45 in sabre and 28-45 in foil, but taking home the épée trophy for the 17th year in a row with a hard-fought 45-44 victory. Of particular note was épéeist Alex Moor’s crushing 10-1 win and the valiant efforts of sabreur Lucy Wilczyk, who within two years has progressed from complete beginner to earn a Half Blue in the women’s starting lineup.

Cambridge’s BUCS form has also been strong, with the Men’s Blues facing Durham in the National Trophy final on Wednesday 23rd MarchCambridge University Fencing Club

The men’s Seconds, under the leadership of Adrian Yam, likewise put in a strong Varsity-worthy showing, despite having to contend with an especially stacked Oxford M2 squad. The Cambridge Seconds ultimately slugged it out to a 99-135 defeat, giving the visitors a run for their money in the épée with a tight 43-45 finish and ending on 28-45 in both the foil and sabre, but only after a magnificent 9-3 victory for foilist Kishan Sisodiya (a triumphant return after a five-year hiatus from the sport) and an even more emphatic 11-4 win for fresher sabreur Tom Borrett, rounding out a day of impressive fencing on the men’s side.

In similarly determined fashion, Ziqi Yan led the women’s Seconds in the face of tough opposition to a 109-133 result against a more experienced Dark Blue side, going toe-to-toe in the foil (42-43) and sabre (39-45) and forcing their seasoned adversaries to fight it out for each point in a lively 28-45 matchup in the épée.


Mountain View

New to a Blue: Fencing

Foil anchor Leah McHugh made a huge contribution towards Cambridge’s overall numbers with an astonishing 16-3 win in her last foil bout before stepping up to fence sabre at the last minute, with additional noteworthy contributions from épéeists Sum Yin Wong and Lauren Charnley Parr, both of whom only started fencing last term – a remarkable achievement.

All in all, it was a big day for Cambridge fencing, with athletes from all teams displaying great skill on the piste. After a challenging two years of Covid restrictions, which have more often than not resulted in the cancellation of training sessions and competitive fixtures – effectively bringing the sport to a halt in the UK for an extended period – Saturday marked an emphatic return for one of Cambridge’s more storied Varsity traditions.