Royal Holloway Novice Foil

Saxon fencing club took second and forth places in the Royal Holloway Novice Foil this Sunday. Novice tournaments, for fencers with less than two years fencing experience are important development event for fencers becoming established in the sport. Saxon entered two mixed teams of three in a field of ten.

By recent tradition, Saxon teams are names after the warrior classes of Saxon society. The Saxon Fyrd, named for the Feudal Levy, consisted of Sharon Thomas, Christian Chilton and Christopher Cockburn. They dominated both of their seeding games, beating king’s college 45-26 and Royal Holloway 2nd 45-19. Christian was especially dominant early on, winning several of his bouts without reply. The teenaged Chris showed great poise and technique, putting together neat combination attacks (John would have been delighted with a perfectly executed appel-lunge which got him a single light) and Sharon discovered a previously unseen aggression which, allied to her excellent footwork made her very effective, if a little frightening, the referee had to restrain her several time from attacking before his call of “fence”. This earned them a semi final place against Kings College 1st team. This was an excrutiatingly close game throughout. The Fyrd were slightly behind from the start, but late in the day pulled back so the score, in the first to 45 match, was 41-41. Kings then kept their heads and picked off the last four points, denying the Fyrd their place in the finals. Tired after a long days fencing they suffered badly at the hands of Kinston in the 3rd/4th playoff, but still finished an excellent forth.

The Saxon Huscarles, named for the household warrior elite, had a far tougher qualification. The team of South African Elztette Roelofse, Italian stalwart of the Ealing rugby Vittorio Spadevecchia and promising youngster Edward Bentley drew Kings 1st for their first match. It was tight throughout, but Kings were always slightly ahead, leaving Vittorio with a 38-40 deficit to make up in his final leg. With the sheer competitiveness which he showed throughout the tournament, as well as the fencing equivalent of a crash ball through midfield, the Italian took the leg by the scruff of the neck to force a Saxon victory. After a second qualifier where they confidently out classed Holloway 1st team in a 45-19 drubbing, they faced a tough looking young team from Kingston in the semi. This was very tight to start with, but a strong middle leg by Bentley, broke Kingston’s back and the Huscarles were ruthless in finishing the bout. This pitted the Huscarles in the final against King’s 1st, who they had narrowly beaten in the first bout of the day. The final was a different story. Saxon went behind early, and despite a couple of mid- bout rallies by Elzette, who had increased in stature all day and the consistent Edward, Saxon were always chasing the score. They were rushed into some late mistakes, bravely trying to make up the deficit and Kings pulled away again for a deserved 45-34 victory.

We can be delighted with taking two of the top four spots, a ringing endorsement of the beginner’s programme (well done Lance and John) from where all of the fencers graduated in the last few months but most of all, of course of the hard work and application of the fencers. It was certainly a tremendous development exercise, after nervous starts, the improvement in the fencing of all six could be seen as the day went on. Well done to all.

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