Successful Finale To The O2 Touch Programme

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Over 150 students prepare for the O2 Touch Finale at Iffley Road

The 2013 Annual Mixed Touch Competition was the 10th edition and attracted the largest entry of any year – 32 teams to Iffley Road on Thursday afternoon, meaning over 150 students took part in what has become a fixture in the Oxford University Rugby calendar. Following on from the highly successful O2 Touch Programme that has been running weekly all term in the University Parks, the entry for the this annual event not only had teams from the traditional rugby colleges but also newly formed teams who had taken to the game in the O2 initiative. All teams were entered into the 32 team draw, allowing everyone a chance to claim the main Cup Trophy, won by New College last year. Following the first and second rounds the competition split in to four separate competitions – Cup, Plate, Bowl and Spoon – which ensured that all teams had a minimum of three matches during the afternoon. It was evident from the early matches that the teams who had participated in the O2 Touch programme would feature in the latter stages of the competition – having picked up the nuances required for this version of the game.
After a couple of hours of entertaining matches played on four pitches, we arrived at the finals.
The Spoon Final was contested between two O2 Touch stalwarts Hertford 1’s and Drongoes 1’s (One of 3 teams form Exeter College). In an evenly contested final, Hertford came away as winners by the odd score.
The Bowl Final saw the second of the Exeter College teams – Drongoes 2’s gained some revenge for their 1’s losing by comfortably beating Lady Margaret Hall.
The Plate Final saw last year’s Cup Champions New College take on one of the strongest O2 Touch teams – Earth Sciences and in an exciting match New College prevailed to add another piece of silverware (china!) to their trophy cabinet.
And so to the much anticipated Cup Final between Pembroke College, resplendent in their pink and light blue kit and the Oxford University Netball Club – who had excelled in the O2 Touch competition all term. The large crowd that had by now gathered –perhaps in anticipation of Captains Cocktails to follow later in the evening – were not disappointed, as the game ebbed and flowed and eventually lead to extra time with the scores tied at the end of normal time. An innovation introduced this year to help settle tied matches, was the removal of a player after every two minutes of the extra time period – with a female player still on the pitch. After six minutes for extra time and still no winning score, both teams were down to just two players with all four rapidly running out of energy. The deadlock remained for a further two minutes before Sam Wareham – Greyhounds & U21’s winger and also an Athletics Blue, managed to find a small gap to slip away and elude the despairing dive of Pembroke Captain Sam Dumigan to clinch victory with a try for the Netball Club!
Other awards:
Hertford College were awarded the Prize for the Best Fancy Dress in the Jungle Themed category.
Sam Hitchings of Exeter College received an individual award for the greatest contribution to the O2 Touch Programme, by introducing the most number of people – three teams from Exeter a great testament to his commitment and enthusiasm for introducing new people to the game.ourthe Rugby Development Officer Sean Morris for taking the lead role in the delivery of the O2 Touch Programme, ably assisted by all those volunteers who gave up their time to referee and coordinate the matches each week.

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