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By Jonathan Tomlin
Students at University College hope to encourage more undergraduates to play a notoriously “ruthless” novelty sport. Students at the college will be holding trials for its “brutal” Bicycle Polo Club (UCBPC) next week.
Univ set up a bicycle polo team last summer and are now looking for new recruits amid plans to make it a “big sport in Oxford”, according to their captain James Carroll.
“It might seem ridiculous but it’s surprisingly fun, skilful and aggressive in equal measure. We hope to play a competitive game against another college this term, so we need to put a strong squad together.”
Carroll said the sport started “as a bit of fun” but has now “spiralled into seriously a competitive sport”.
It’s “brutal”, “ruthless” and “not for the faint hearted”, says Carroll, who recalls almost breaking a window in the Rad Cam.
He continued: “We play our own rules. It starts with a joust, with players from each team ‘tripoding’ (supporting themselves with their mallets on their own goal line, feet off the ground) before racing towards a hockey ball in the centre of the field. Predictably, carnage frequently ensues.
“We’ve been through quite a few bikes. You can expect small injuries at every game — someone breaking something or being smacked in the head with a scooped ball is quite rare but it does happen. As contact is encouraged, the worst collisions usually just result in bicycles being destroyed.”
However, Carroll insisted the sport had “no risk of serious injury. Bike polo is an aggressive sport in the same way rugby is – good sportsmanship and sensible play are both key.”
Rosalind Isaacs, a first-year at Univ, said: “I won’t be taking part in the trials myself, but I’ll definitely go out and support the team. It’s a bit of an extreme sport – I think I’ll just stick to sports I can play on my feet with a mallet, like croquet.
“It was definitely popular at Freshers’ Fair, and I think they’ll make it popular around Oxford. It’s pretty niche, but no one thought Quidditch would succeed at first, and look what happened.
“They’ve also got pretty persuasive stash, having redesigned the Ralph Lauren logo [left] into a bicycle polo player.”