An outstanding performance by the Cambridge University Bowmen led to a sixth consecutive victory for the light blues in the 54th Annual Varsity Match held at the Oxford University Parks on May 17.
Spectators were witnesses to a bitter disappointment for the Oxford University Company of Archers as they were the clear pre-match favourite. During the indoor season, they had come out on top in seven out of eight encounters with the light blues. Many had seen this as a sign that they would finally bring home the Rose Bowl after their last victory in 1997. However, the varsity match demonstrated once more that indoor and outdoor archery are very different disciplines.
The competition format was three dozen arrows at each of three distances (80, 60 and 50 yards for men and 60, 50 and 40 yards for women). After the first distance, Cambridge was already ahead by a few points and the question was whether they would be able to continue putting arrows consistently in the gold, a circle only 8 inches diameter. As the second distance was completed, the Oxford team began to realise that victory was slipping from their grasp. In less than ideal weather conditions, Oxford's Ben Huckvale (852) was putting in an impressive performance, challenged only by Cambridge's top archer James Keogh (818). However, Victor Yung (780) and Ian Caulfield (779) kept a clear margin ahead of the other Oxford men and on the women's side, light blue archers Diana Wood (782) and newcomer Clare Hooley (774) easily beat their dark blue counterparts.
Oxford supporters, who had hoped that the prospective victory would shake Cambridge's confidence and concentration, were disappointed. Instead, the attention shifted to the fierce competition among Yung, Caulfield, Wood, and Hooley for the three remaining places on the Cambridge team with Keogh. All four shot personal best scores, within 8 points of each other. In the end, Hooley had to set aside her dream of a half blue until next year.
Alongside the main contest for possession of the Rose Bowl, the novice archers competed for the new Novice Varsity plate. It was another clean sweep for Cambridge. The team consisting of Hooley, Nadezda Novakovic, Tim Northover and Jonathan Richardson stormed ahead of their Oxford rivals. The strong performance by the light blue novice team gives confidence that the prestigious Rose Bowl will remain in Cambridge hands when they host the varsity match next year.(Archery UK, September 2003)