On 28th – 30th April, EUCC members headed to BUCS in Nottingham to pit themselves against other universities in the niche but fantastic sport of canoe polo. During this weekend filled with cake, glowsticks, and getting lost (it’s hard to believe we found time to play any polo really!) I somehow managed to find time to write down stuff for the following writeup…
Wahey, we made it! The Polo event of the year, British Universities and Colleges Sport Canoe Polo Championships. The event was held this year in Holme Pierrepoint, a 5 hour drive from our home ground. Team Bus met at the cave at 12.00am on Friday 28th, ready to load up the bus with the boats, kit, and camping stuff, then hit the road relatively quickly (if you ignore the time taken to stop off at Sainsbury’s for barbeques and food.) Those of us in the front (Sab and Myself) were treated to a free driving lesson on the perils of driving on motorways; “DOUBLE!!” before Adam stalled and a lorry driver glared at him. Some dubious and rather questionable jokes from Hammond and top notch banter from the back row, and we made it to Nottingham in one-piece, despite the emergency stopping of the bus a mere 10m before parking so people could dash to the toilets and pee. After this we set up our tents and got our kit scruntineered (no issues there then… ), before lighting a barbeque, eating, and settling down for the night.
The open team got off to a 5.45 am start on Saturday and were on the water 45 minutes later to put in some good practice before their first game against Warwick at 7.00. This game was an intense one, ultimately resulting in a 4-0 loss. However the true steel and grit of our players really came to play after this match, despite being placed in the bottom half as an outcome of this preliminary match, over the course of the weekend they rose through the league tables. Cheered on by a horde of screaming girls, a nail bitingly close match with Liverpool (coming down to golden goal) and Bath resulted in us placing 16th out of 29, a 12-place improvement on the previous year.
Unfortunately after all my hype in the SW Uni final review about BUCS, I managed to trip over my own feet and break my foot the week before BUCS. Encased in a very fashionable but rather oversized leg boot, I was physically unable to fit into a boat, rendering me a little useless to the team. Thankfully Swales stepped in to save the day, and completed the team. Unfortunately, the ladies pitches were 100 miles (…or 20 metres) away from the viewing area so it was a little hard to watch what was going in these matches, however from what I could see the ladies team played very well, winning matches against Swansea and Teeside, alongside some close losses. Overall the Ladies Team came 21st, which for a team that was formed 2 months ago is a massive achievement, and shows huge promise for the future.
At the end of the weekend we packed up our stuff, and after a quick vote for next year’s team captains, and a round of goodbyes, we began the long drive back to Exeter tired but proud. Thankfully this is not the end of polo for the year, as plans to compete in London in the summer are underway, and despite exam season training continues so we can come back even stronger next year!
Photos courtesy of Noble-Photography©