BUCS University Championships 2021

On 20 June, both men’s and women’s teams competed in the BUCS handball university championship, the first time handball has been included as a BUCS event. The club travelled to Loughborough University to take part in both the first and last games of a season obviously heavily disrupted by the global pandemic. The last time either team had played any fixtures, had been at the previous university championship, all the way back in March 2020, so they were eager to put in a solid performance to restart competitive handball with a flourish. Due to necessary changes caused by COVID-19, the players also had to get used to smaller courts on outdoor AstroTurf, fully at the mercy of the Great British summer weather.

Cambridge University Women

Both Cambridge teams played in the highest seeded competition, the championship, so could therefore already count themselves amongst the best university sides in the country. It also meant that the day would provide some competitive and challenging matchups. The women’s team started their tournament in excellent form with their first group game against Nottingham. Competing against a depleted side, Cambridge took full advantage of having one player more than their opponents. They even managed to keep a clean sheet with some superb defending. Goals from Anna and Bea on the wings, and Eleonore at centre, ensured a comfortable 8-0 victory to get the ball rolling.

Having got one victory under their belts, Cambridge sought to start a winning run. They would have to do so in less than ideal conditions as a heavy rain shower had arrived, making the court and the ball even more slippery. Cambridge’s opponents, Liverpool, also presented a challenge having proven themselves to be adept in previous matches. However, against Cambridge’s women, they could only muster a solitary goal, going down 4-1. Cambridge light blues again produced a fantastic defensive display and to concede only one goal in two games is a highly impressive achievement. Lakshmi added to the goal tally whilst Chiara, Julia and Helen played their part in keeping the opposition quiet.

The team leaked a few more goals against Imperial College than in the previous games but still continued with the strong defensive work to keep the score low. The London side found goals difficult to come by with Carina producing some good saves to deny the Imperial attack. However, in front of goal, it was a frustrating game for Cambridge who were unlucky to come out of the contest with a 6-2 loss.

Photo: Felix von Horstig

The next game posed the toughest prospect as it pitted Cambridge against tournament favourites, Loughborough. Unfortunately, Cambridge could not reproduce the type of defensive strength that had served them so well in previous games. Despite some bright moments, the home team proved too strong, running out clear winners with a score of 15-4.

Defeat put Cambridge in equal second alongside Liverpool and with Imperial College; an unbeatable Loughborough finished as champions. However, an inferior goal difference meant that Cambridge were edged into fourth place overall, still an excellent achievement of which the team can be proud.

Results: Women’s Championship

University of Cambridge vs Nottingham University        8-0

University of Cambridge vs University of Liverpool        4-1

University of Cambridge vs Imperial College London     2-6

University of Cambridge vs Loughborough University   4-15

TeamWonDrawLossGoals ForGoals AgainstGoal DifferencePoints
Loughborough University40042231912
University of Liverpool202342956
Imperial College London202211836
University of Cambridge2021822-46
Nottingham University0041639-230
Photo: Laura Böker

Cambridge University Men

Proceedings for the men’s team also began against Nottingham University. Like the women, the men also made it a comfortable win. An energetic performance, in which all outfield members of the squad got on the scoresheet was a very pleasing start. There was also much to be happy about at the back with Felix offering security in goal. In the end, Cambridge overcame their opponents 19 goals to 9. The second game against Imperial proved to be a closer contest and Cambridge did brilliantly to nullify Imperial’s strong attacking threat with some great saves from Jeremi and a battling defensive display. Solidness in defence paired with goals chipped in from all areas of the court, including a couple of important scores from Patrik against his former team, saw the men edge the tie 9-7.

The performance against Imperial provided an important win ahead of the third game, up against Loughborough. The hosts looked to use their home (Astro)turf to their advantage, providing a loud opposition atmosphere from the side-lines. Cambridge were, once again, firm in defence but struggled to break down a physical Loughborough side at the other end. At the close of twenty-five minutes, Cambridge had fallen to their first defeat with a final score of 12-6. To be in with a chance of the championship, the team could not make the same mistake against Lancaster. After some close early exchanges, Cambridge pulled ahead as Lancaster frequently conceded penalties and line Chris showed off his pace in scoring fast-breaks. In the end the result was never in doubt. Cambridge ran rampant and once again showed themselves a threat from all positions. Particular credit goes to Csongor who showed great versatility at right back, left wing and line. Cambridge racked up over a goal a minute, finishing 26-8 winners.

Photo: Eleonore Poli

The final test came against last year’s champions, Nottingham Trent who boasted a talented team. Cambridge did very well to match them, however, with a dynamic display in central positions from Basti, Julius and Max, backed up by John and Dan sinking shots from the wings. At one point the game was incredibly equal with a Trent goal being answered immediately by a Cambridge one. Unfortunately, a slower start from Cambridge ultimately handed Trent the points after a hard-fought game, which ended 22-18. Despite the loss, the men’s team still deservedly achieved a podium position, bringing bronze medals back to Cambridge.  

Results: Men’s Championship

University of Cambridge vs Nottingham University                19-9

University of Cambridge vs Imperial College London             9-7

University of Cambridge vs Loughborough University           6-12

University of Cambridge vs Lancaster University                    26-8

University of Cambridge vs Nottingham Trent University    18-22

TeamWonDrawLossGoals ForGoals AgainstGoal DifferencePoints
Nottingham Trent University500101742715
Loughborough University40175433212
University of Cambridge3027858209
Imperial College London203585626
Nottingham University1046675-93
Lancaster University00538110-720
Photo: Laura Böker