DU Fencing Club (DUFC) continued their dominance of Irish higher-level fencing, collecting their 10th intervarsities title in a row, along with their 40th win out of the past 63 tournaments that have taken place.
Since 1958, the title has only been one twice by colleges other than University College Dublin (UCD) and Trinity, with Queen’s University Belfast winning in 2000 and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) taking home the title in 1959.
Over the weekend of March 4th and 5th, the Trinity team travelled to the Mardyke Arena in Cork for the tournament hosted by University College Cork (UCC). Competing against nine other colleges and ITs from around the country, Trinity won a total of 34 matches with weapon victories coming in men’s foil, women’s foil, men’s épée and women’s sabre. DUFC’s closest challenge came from rivals UCD who won 27 matches, with the hosts UCC finishing in third.
The format of the competition saw each team facing off against all the others in their weapon. Each match had a maximum of nine bouts, with victory achieved once a side had won five bouts. The winning college was the one with the most matches won by the end of the weekend. Throughout the weekend, Trinity were remarkably only defeated in two matches, with many fencers going the entire weekend undefeated. These included Philip Cripwell in the men’s foil as well as Giovanni Buzzi, Albert Sanfeliu and Sam Mitchell in the men’s épée. In the women’s épée Lucy Johnson and Sophie McGowan were unbeatable along with Manon Nouvian in the sabre competition.
Along with the 24 fencers who competed 18 supporters travelled down to Cork to support the side. Speaking to The University Times via email, club PRO Camille Hindsgaul emphasised their importance to the success: “All weekend they carried the fencers, gathering around the pistes to cheer, give advice, help the teams with warm-up bouts and drills, and make sure that we always had working equipment. Our supporters’ unwavering commitment is a testament to the unity and team spirit in DUFC and the weekend would not have been as successful without them.”
Hindsgaul also placed great importance on the sense of community and legacy of the club as being key to its success. Having alumni who continue to take an interest in the achievements of DUFC along with former fencer Dr Colm Flynn as a coach unites the club in its objectives. Flynn brings success to the club by “knowing exactly how each of us learn the best, what type of cheering and advice we respond the best to, how to calm us down and keep us focused in moments of doubt, he is invaluable to the Club, and there is no single person of more paramount importance to this year’s triumph”.
Speaking to The University Times by email, Captain of DU Fencing, James Bryant, stated: “I’m incredibly proud of the Club as a whole, not just our incredibly talented Squad but every athlete who trains with us from novice to elite, first-year students to alumni, has made this achievement possible. The club strives to make winning a habit, and with this win under our belt it’s time to set our sights on next year’s victory”
“It’s been an honour to lead the Club to this victory, but realistically the success stems from each individual athlete’s work ethic and love of the sport. We can often be found first in the sports centre at 7am and last out at 10pm most days of the week, and this hard work has paid off”, Bryant continued.