512 teams of four are taking part in this year's Oxford University Croquet Cuppers. It is played under Association Laws and serves to introduce the sport to a couple of thousand Bright Young Things. 22 additional teams failed to make the cut! Given that the Oxford undergraduate terms are only 8-weeks long, there is a lot of croquet to be played in a very short time.
'Cuppers' are the intra-college competitions within the University and there is a great deal of rivalry and prestige involved. Virtually every college/hall is taking part (39/44 colleges) with some colleges entering 20 or more teams+. Croquet Cuppers is again kindly sponsored by the Croquet Association.
The competition is organised as a knock-out, with the intra-college matches arranged as level-play association croquet doubles; one match is played at home and the other away. The initial rounds take place in the college quadrangles where local knowledge can be a huge advantage. Dispensation is given for the normal college lawns obstacles, e.g. trees and manhole covers, as well as for equipment and lawn size. The later heats however are played on the two full-size lawns at the University Croquet Club which is a new delight to many of the players.
Whilst not really noticed by the University sports' organisation, croquet is one of the biggest sporting events at Oxford University, involving as it does ~9% of the total student population.
In the coming four weeks the standard free "Beginners' Coaching" will start at the Oxford lawns and hopefully we will discover some new raw diamonds as well as giving cuppers teams a boost towards victory.
Details of the progress of Cuppers can be seen at: http://www.oxfordcroquet.com/oucc/