In May and June every year, the Oxford University Association Croquet Club (OUACC) run one of the University's largest sporting events, "Croquet Cuppers".
This year, there were over 300 teams, and almost 1,500 players - quite a colossal feat for an internal student competition. The format of the tournament is a knockout competition staged over eight weeks and culminating with Semi-Finals and a Grand Final on the OUACC lawns in the University Parks. In the prior rounds, college teams compete on each others' lawns, with doubles games played in home and away legs. This gives them a great chance to meet people from across the University...and to have a snoop around other colleges!
Many of the participants in Cuppers have never played Croquet before, and the tournament provides them with an opportunity to learn about the game in a relaxed atmosphere with their friends. OUACC runs training sessions in the first weeks of the competition, so that those who want to succeed in the game can learn the rules. The format is Association Croquet (as the name of our club might suggest!), although various "home rules" keep creeping in! One of the recurring functions of the tournament seems to be correcting these misunderstandings, to allows participants to have more competitive and enjoyable games in future.
We were pleased to see a high standard of play this year. On a glorious day in the University Parks, a good crowd gathered to watch the Final. With exams over, what better way to spend an afternoon than watching your college engage in fierce battle for the Cuppers trophy! The winning team, from New College, saw off tough opposition from Jesus College and were crowned this year's Cuppers champions.
We continue to be grateful to the Croquet Association for sponsoring the tournament, and to The Oxford Artisan Distillery for providing an additional prize for the winning team.