Clean sweep for CURFC at the Universities Championships
Marlborough College, 17-19 November 2017
Hon. Sec. Jeremy Manger reports : In true BUSF fashion Team Cambridge headed down on a Friday evening to start their campaign at the British Universities Rugby Fives tournament (BUSF), this year held at Marlborough College.
Ed “The Pyminister” Pyman (ex-Sherborne) began his first BUSF battling valiantly but was sadly taken down early by a strong performance from Ollie Arnold (Bristol), with the score line 15-2, 15-2. Laurence “Rambo” Cook showed promising signs against Sam Russell (London Law) and certainly managed to tire him, before the next member of the Cambridge team, Andrew “Panda” Boyd (ex-Edinburgh Academy), showed another gear to overcome the weakened Russell in the 2nd round. Meanwhile, business as usual for Ed “Fiancé” Kay, who progressed easily through the early rounds, as did Matt “El Capitano” Shaw, despite a rather close call against a much-improved Tom Watkinson (Bristol).
Saturday began with the Panda, as per usual, chewing on two dry Weetabix, before hitting the courts for another action-packed day of fives. However, the Weetabix would prove to be not quite enough to fuel Boyd to victory over ex-Cantab and current traitor, Ben “Hickey” Beltrami, who scored a convincing win over the tiring Scot, 15-4, 15-7. Matt and Ed faced off against each other in a grudge-match semi-final (Shaw hasn’t won – ever), and Kay was to prove too strong yet again. Back in Cambridge, Jeremy “Prodigal Sec.” Manger, had just completed his Law Supervision (which was, amazingly, even drier than Boyd’s Weetabix) and has now successfully completed the law. Back at the courts, Pyman and Cook were, despite some promising wins, sadly unable to progress from their singles plate groups.
Once Manger had eventually arrived, he teamed up with Boyd to quickly despatch Team Durham in a comfortable doubles match. Laurence & Ed P. played their first round against eventual semi-finalists, Inigo Ackland & Tom Watkinson (Bristol), but, despite a good effort, were outgunned by the strong Bristol pair. Business as usual, though, for Shaw & Kay as, despite some uncharacteristic errors from the latter, they progressed to the semi-finals largely unimpeded. Saturday evening was an eventful occasion for Team Cambridge, with a highly successful dinner organised by Venetia “Future-Kay” D’Arcy, followed by a team-bonding film session back at the Beltrami household.
Sunday morning didn’t go quite to plan, as we were delayed for a considerable amount of time by Shaw’s questionable off-roading and Beltrami’s marshland driveway. However, the team all arrived at the courts in one piece for another day of fives. Manger’s dodgy moustache seemed to distract Beltrami & Russell (London Law), and he & Boyd managed to rack up a highly respectable 15-10,15-6 loss to this incredibly strong pair (Ben, had in fact won the doubles tournament for the last 3 years). After this came the singles final, where golden-boy Kay took on former captain and number 1 snake, Beltrami, in what was to be a BUSF classic, neither player willing to give an inch. Beltrami hit a great array of winners, but in the end, Ed’s spinning classes paid off and his superior fitness propelled him to a 3-game win, bringing the title home to Cambridge for the 3rd year in a row. Meanwhile, the plate doubles got underway, with Pyman & Cook cruising through their group, but unfortunately losing in a close fought semi-final to Smith & Hanton (Man/Shef).
Having beaten Bristol II in the semi, Kay & Shaw moved on to face Bristol I (Ollie Arnold & Theo Parker) in the doubles final. Despite powerful hitting from Arnold & Parker, the first game was a fairly simple affair for Cambridge pair, who showed exceptional retrieval skills to win 15-2. The 2nd game was much closer, as the Bristol pair put Cambridge under significant pressure with their aggressive and consistent hitting. Despite this, the Cambridge pair ground out a 15-11 win, courtesy of some quality nicks from Shaw, thus winning his 4th consecutive BUSF doubles and confirming Cambridge’s clean sweep of the main tournament for the last 3 years.
Many thanks to Beltrami (Jr. and Snr.) for kindly housing the Cambridge team over the course of the weekend, and a special thanks to David Gardner for organising the fantastic tournament and for having done so for the last 58 years – student fives is truly indebted to him.
Overall, a highly successful weekend of Fives for the Cambridge team, who will be looking to continue this performance next term in the lead-up to the Varsity Match in February.