Oxford and Cambridge each play out their Past versus Present

Mens  News  Womens

Saturday, 12th February 2022
St Paul’s School and the Cambridge University Sports Centre

Nick Whitney reports for Oxford: After an enforced break in 2021, the 36th Oxford Past vs Present match took place at St Paul’s School on Saturday. Despite the Present missing several key players with covid we were able to contest a full Men’s VIII, Beavers IV, and for the first time a full Ladies IV.

Proceedings started with Singles for the Men’s VIII. Stand-in Present captain, Louis Odgers, could only get 1 point from Peter Hanton, who was on fine form playing at Nr 1 for the Past. The remaining singles games were all more closely contested affairs, but all went the way of the Past. A highlight was a 15-13 nailbiter between the 5th seeds, Quentin Gueroult (Present) and Samuel Adcock (Past), who was returning to Fives for the first time in over a decade.

The Past’s depth and experience came to the fore in the Doubles. The Present battled hard and scored good points throughout these games, with 3rd pair Vivek Thakrar & Adam Hutchinson able to steal a game from Johnny Longden & Tom Owen. The final score was 342-198, meaning the Mackenzie Bowl was won by the Past for another year.

The Ladies’ fixture was also won by the Past (117-27), with the strength and depth of the Past too much for the Present, who were deprived of two key players, including captain Gabriela van Bergen, by Covid. Nonetheless, there was some excellent Fives on display, especially in the top singles game between Viola King Forbes (Past) and Miriam Stricker (Present), which Viola just edged 16-15.

The day was rounded off by some Mixed Doubles exhibition matches before a dinner at Queen’s Club, where we gave the Present team our best wishes for the upcoming Varsity Match.

Bob Dolby reports for Cambridge: 18 members of the Past turned out to take on the Present Men’s VIII, a Ladies IV and play some Mixed Doubles for the Ted Isaacs Trophy. With the Present deprived of two players, one by covid, last year’s captain Sarthak Garella guested for the Men’s Present and drew the short straw of Singles against Ed Kay! Unsurprisingly the Singles went very much the way of the Past, except for an impressive win for Hon.Sec. Ben Burgess over the 2019 captain Jeremy Manger.

The Doubles too favoured the Past, but CURFC’s 1st pair of Emrys Thursfield & Ben Burgess came out 29-25 over two games against Ed Kay & Steve Platts and only lost to Ian Jackson & Ashwin Ahuja 14-16, 15-16. One extraordinary feature of the Doubles was the sight of 75 year-old Martin Wilkinson playing in two hard games in the third pair. The Past won the match and the Trapnell Tankard 321-163. 

On court 3 Holly Nugent led her VI to victory in the Mixed Doubles, before she, Rosie Taylor, Cameron Roker, Imogen Jenner and Lucy Richman took on a strong Ladies Past side composed of Savanna Leboff, Helena Tunks, Sophie Kenny and Tori Boyd. The Present won 3 of the 9 games played and a final score of 90-65 did great credit to the Present even in defeat.

The Match was followed by the 73rd Jock Burnet Dinner at Pembroke College where President Bob Dolby managed to forget to read out a letter of best wishes from 93 year-old Chris Metcalfe, the one remaining member of the side that played in the very first Past versus Present in 1949! 

The assembled Oxford players

Some action from the Doubles at St Paul’s

Action from Cambridge

All to play for!

Dinner at Pembroke College

Cambridge’s finest!