What happened in Balliol this week?
- Bruce’s Brunch is back! Bruce’s Brunch is a weekly event held in the sitting room of Bruce, the Wellbeing and Welfare Officer. Each week there is a different speaker, and free food for everyone who attends (including sandwiches, snacks, salad, fruit, biscuits, and Bruce’s speciality – homemade vegan flapjack).
- Tampon Avalanche! This is an event run by the Women’s Officers, who give out free sanitary items to Balliol women at the beginning of each term. At Balliol, we don’t believe that these are ‘luxury’ items.
- Rounders match! There was a very casual rounders match played against a team from New College – we lost, but it was great fun.
- Charity quiz! Leon Kidd ran a quiz in the Lindsay Bar, which was hugely popular with students and raised over £200 for the charity Amicus-ALJ.
- Netball cuppers! The Balliol women’s netball team played in an inter college tournament on Saturday morning, and won three of their five matches.
- May Day! In Oxford, the beginning of May is a really big event. At 6am on May 1st, a choir sings from the top of Magdalen Tower. Students usually spend the night celebrating before making their way to watch the choir in the early hours of the morning, and then spend most of the following day recovering and sleeping.
- Rugby cuppers! The Balliol rugby team won their semi final match against St Peters to go through to the Plate Final, which will be played in a few weeks’ time.
Balliol has a mixed lacrosse team, which is a relatively new addition to the sports on offer at an informal college level. The team was founded just two years ago, by Balliol lacrosse enthusiast James Kavanagh. James had begun to play lacrosse with the Men’s University team, and was disappointed that Balliol didn’t have a college team, and so he created one. This is a great example of how the activities you choose to get involved in at university really are without limit – if the society or team you want to join doesn’t exist, it isn’t too difficult to create it for yourself.
The Mixed Lacrosse team is super informal, and most of the players had never picked up a lacrosse stick before they arrived at university. Despite this, the Lacrosse team is one of the keenest sports teams in Balliol – highlights of this year have included Lacrosse team jumpers as well as shirts to play in. Lacrosse sticks are provided, so there are no expensive pieces of kit to buy before you join the team. This means that lots of people come along to the initial training sessions to try out the sport. Although there are some players who turn up to every training session and match, there are plenty of people who play lacrosse casually, playing a match here and there when they have the time.
🏉 🏉 🏉
Balliol has a mixed touch rugby term that trains once per week during Hilary term, and competes in a league during Trinity term. Mixed touch rugby is perhaps one of the largest, most sociable Balliol sports teams – there are players from a whole range of sporting backgrounds, all years, and even some graduate students who come along to training. The team is relatively young for a Balliol sports team, as it was established around a year ago. However, the team became popular within the Balliol student community very quickly, thanks to its very casual, everyone-welcome policy.
This term is an exciting one for the team, as we will hopefully be getting some stash! ‘Stash’ means team sports kit, and most of the Balliol societies and sports teams have stash of some sort. The rowers have unisuits, which are all in one lycra monstrosities, the rugby team have shirts to play in as well as blazers for formal events and dinners, the maths society (BUMS – Balliol Undergraduate Maths Society) have jumpers. The stash possibilities are endless! Mixed touch are hoping to get rugby shirts and socks in navy blue and pink – we’re all very excited for their arrival, and will add a picture to this blog post as soon as we can!
Here is a picture of the team in action in the beautiful Uni Parks, and a team photo – you can see just how popular the sport is by the number of people in this picture (and there are quite a few regular players who missed this particular photoshoot!!)
This week was fairly quiet as things wound down for the end of term. Mid-way through the week, History and English final year students handed in their dissertations and prepared to take some time off before starting revision. Students on three year courses will have their final exams next term. Our student run theatre, The Pilch, announced its term card after lengthy deliberations over show bids from students throughout the university; highlights include Rhinoceros and Orphans, both of which look to push the newly renovated space to its limit. The academic side of the term was wrapped up by ‘handshakings’, where students meet all their tutors and get feedback and advice on their term’s work. Then the end of term celebrations commenced, with a college party (a ‘bop’) and the closing night of the Lindsay Bar, where the barrels needed to be emptied and so prices are cut accordingly. Finally, all the first years moved out of their college rooms for the Easter vacation. Most final year students stayed in their college rooms in order to be in Oxford to revise.
Hilary was a fantastic term for Balliol Drama. The Pilch’s first full Playbill was a huge success and many of the shows in the venue sold out. The ETC kicked of the term in style with a rehearsed reading of People, Places and Things, Barricade Theatre shocked audiences with their stunning production of Mercury Fur, Straightface Theatre transformed the space with their hilarious and virtuoso production of Enda Walsh’s Ballyturk and the Oxford Review rounded up the bill in style with their Fresher’s show, Horseplay.
The Balliol Charity Musical, Robin Hood, was an obvious highlight and the Charity Officers, Sophie and Rivka did a great job bringing it all together. Special thanks to Milo for handling the sometimes tricky tech of the new Pilch.
Unsurprisingly, the Drama Society received a huge number of bids for next term and we’ve been able to put together an amazing set of shows. Poltergeist Theatre return after their hugely successful, Thark, to transform the Pilch into an Irish pub for their stark rendition of Conor McPherson’s, The Weir; Balliol’s own Gruffdog Theatre will be exploring the absurd world of Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros with their usual combination of puppetry, music and ensemble work and Drame Fatale looks set to wow with their experimental production, of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The ETC will be opening the bill again with their startling take on Orphans by Dennis Kelly.
The Pilch hasn’t been without its challenges in the first term but what has been truly remarkable is how students both in Balliol and across the university have worked together to make sure that the venue not only continued to run, but bore witness to some of the best theatre across the whole of Oxford. We couldn’t have hoped for a better start.
Next term, John Maier and Juliet Flamank will be heading up 1263 Productions and ‘Playlliol’, watch this space for The Goat or Who is Sylvia…
The Women’s Hockey team at Balliol is actually a joint team with University College. This means that around half of the players go to Balliol, and the other half go to Univ. The reason for this is that in both colleges separately, there are not enough women interested in playing hockey to make a full team. The joint aspect of being on the Women’s Hockey team is a great – at the end of the season, we went for brunch in Univ hall and there is a really lovely friendship between the two colleges. The Women’s Hockey team is a really good way to escape the Balliol bubble for a little while.
The Univ/Balliol team play in a league against other Oxford colleges, with one match arranged each week throughout the first two terms of the year. We also enter into an inter-college tournament called ‘cuppers’. This year, the team was relatively successful in the league. Last year, the Women’s Hockey team fizzled out somewhat, because of a lack of women interested in playing hockey. This year however, we always managed to put out a team (even if sometimes we were a little short of players). We even won some of our matches! Unfortunately, we lost the first game in cuppers, and so were knocked out of the tournament in the first round. All around though, the team have a really impressive season. Congratulations must go to the co-captains, Cealach and Eliza, for managing to rescue the team from the brink of collapse at the end of last year and reigniting excitement about Women’s Hockey.
Balliol has a mixed netball team which plays matches once a week, and when the weather is nice we also train on Wednesday afternoons. The Balliol team is in a league with teams from other colleges, and is in the third best league in the university, which means that the matches we play are super casual. There are no restrictions on who can play for the netball team – the sign up list is open to all, and everyone who signs up to play gets some time on the court. Most people on the Balliol netball team either haven’t played netball for a few years since they were at school, or haven’t played netball before ever.
Our netball court is located very close to Balliol and the city centre, at the Jowett Walk complex (where some Balliol students live). This is great, because it means everyone can easily walk or cycle to matches, and we don’t waste lots of time or money travelling out of the city centre (as is the case for some college netball courts and other sports facilities).
For netballers who want to play more netball than one match a week and the occasional training session, there is an Oxford-wide netball squad which all students can trial for.