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College sports teams enjoy another season of success

Jim Dickinson on the charge in the Varsity hockey match

Sports teams across St John’s have contributed to one of the most impressive terms in the College’s recent sporting history, chalking up major successes in a wide range of competitions.

With the Easter vacation about to commence, the College has already enjoyed significant victories in basketball, hockey, netball and rowing. The rugby club has already won the League and is also flying high in the Cuppers’ competition, while the Lady Margaret Boat Club continues to go from strength to strength.

Following a dramatic final day in the May Bumps last summer, which saw them go “Head of the River”, M1 repeated the same feat in this year’s Lent Bumps. It is the first time that LMBC’s men have achieved the double for 27 years.

As the highest-ranked men’s crew on the Cam, they will now go head-to-head with the top Oxford College, Oriel, during the inter-college events at the Henley boat races on March 26. Further details about all the races can be found here: http://henleyboatraces.com/

The women also continued their steady rise, with W1 moving up 3 places in the Lents, narrowly missing out on blades. Last weekend they raced from Mortlake to Putney in the Women’s Eights Head of the River and were the second fastest Cambridge College slightly behind Jesus W1 who are currently Head of the Lents and Mays.

2017 has meanwhile turned out to be an even more significant – and perhaps unprecedented – double-winning season for the women’s netball team. After gaining promotion from the second division of the inter-college league last term, the team continued their unbeaten form throughout Lent, and clinched the title for the first time in 12 years with a tight 16-13 win over Downing.

They then also beat Queens’ College 14-6 in Cuppers to complete the double, something which has not been achieved in recent memory. Team captain Tabitha Hutchinson said: “I can find no record of John’s winning the league or Cuppers in recent history, so to win both in one year is very exciting!”

The College’s basketball club enjoyed one of the best seasons in its decade of existence. After winning promotion to division two in 2016, the “Yales” bounced back from two consecutive defeats at the start of the current campaign and sealed a second successive promotion to the top flight with a 68-22 over King’s. Team captain Jean-Robert Lalancette said: “Due to their dedication and high turnouts to bi-weekly training sessions, we became a great offensive threat and the best defensive team in the division, twice restricting opposing teams to an unheard-of nine points.”

Johnians were also centre stage in what may go down in history as Cambridge hockey’s very own “Super Sunday” on February 26, when the Light Blues whitewashed Oxford in numerous Varsity matches. Fresher Lewis Collins captained the Colleges’ XI (the best College players from both universities) to a nail-biting victory in a match that went to “shuffles”, the hockey equivalent of penalties in which a player dribbles the ball into the D, and tries to beat a keeper bearing down on them. Cambridge won the shootout 1-0.

Johnian engineer Laura Andrews helped the women’s third team come from behind to draw their match and then win in the resulting shuffles, while the men’s third team, featuring Johnian Ciaran Flaherty, also went to shuffles and a sudden death decider, in which their golden goal prompted jubilant scenes from the Light Blue supporters.

Third year medic Jim Dickinson, who had lost every one of his previous Varsity fixtures, but this time was Vice Captain of a men's seconds side which bounced back from 1-0 down to win 5-2 at the final whistle. This coming weekend, Cambridge will chase an unprecedented 7-0 rout of their Dark Blue rivals, as the men’s and women’s first teams take on the old enemy at Southgate Hockey Club. St John’s will be represented by Matthew Cockerell, who will be hoping to add to his winning blue from last year.

Aside from the LMBC men’s race at Henley on March 26, the College rugby team is in action this week in the semi-finals of the Cuppers competition and could add another double to a growing list of recent College triumphs. Further updates will follow on the St John’s website in the near future.

Additional content for this article was kindly provided by Tabitha Hutchison, Jean-Robert Lalancette, Ruari Crichard and Mark Wells.

Inset images (from top): Cuppers winning netball team; the "Yales" basketball team; Laura Andrews in full flow for the Light Blues.