26/03/2024- University Fencing


On 20th March, university teams across the UK went head-to-head for the 2024 BUCS Big Wednesday Trophy and Championship finals.

Throughout the year, university teams have been competing in multiple leagues of similar abilities, as well as a knockout tournament. The top leagues (Tier 1 and Premier) compete in the Championship, and other leagues in the Trophy. The 20th March marked the end of the 2023-24 BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) fencing knockout series, as university teams headed to Loughborough for a final showdown at BUCS Big Wednesday.

This year’s Women’s Trophy final was fought between Nottingham Women’s 2 and King’s College London 1. Representing Nottingham were Eda Onay, Grace O’Neill, Keshini Talbot, Kirsten Rysdale, Molly Caddy, Rhiannon Craig and Tara Wynne-Edwards, captained by Lauren Elliott. Meanwhile, the KCL team featured Haya Diab, Hin Nam Michelle Chan, Nicole Lehchevska, Sara Diab and Zoe Kenyon Vaughan, captained by Vanessa Albersmeier. With a 129-114 result, KCL Women’s 1 took victory and claimed the 2024 Trophy title.

Photo: Izzy Poles via BUCS (Flickr)


The Men’s Trophy final kicked off at the same time. Nottingham once again featured, with their Men’s 2 team competing against Warwick Men’s 1. Nottingham’s line-up consisted of Alex Kennedy, Christopher Vaughan, Ed Scott Payne, James Gowen, Kasra Ehteshami, Rhys Jackson, Wilf Broughton and William Leach, captained by Jack Elsworth. Meanwhile, representing Warwick were Alisdair Soppitt, Emma Stephenson, Koa Yoshihara, László Bolgár, Louis Goslin and Ziqiao Luo, with the team being captained by Colin Wong.

The match began with the Epee, and Nottingham crept into the lead with a final score of 45-44. Warwick soon came back in the Sabre, dominating the round with a score of 45-34. Nottingham then closed out the match with a 45-38 win in the Foil. With a narrow 127-124 final score, Warwick Men’s 1 ultimately won the 2024 Trophy.

Photo: Izzy Poles via BUCS (Flickr)


The Women’s Championship final featured Oxford Women’s 1 and Edinburgh Women’s 1, two strong teams this season. Oxford had collected gold medals in two of three weapons at this year’s BUCS Individual Championships: Anneke Zegers in Sabre and Laura Pöysti in Epee. In addition to these fencers, their BUCS Big Wednesday team consisted of Bron Hyde, Ella Harrison, Lutong Hao, Madeleine Fung, Martha Carus Bird, Rose Grimshaw, Thalia Seale and Yvonne Chart. Pöysti captained the team.

Edinburgh, meanwhile, were on a six-year Championship winning streak, looking to make it seven. Representing the university were Amber Smith, Ellen Buckley, Georgia Haynes, Giulia Gasparin, Maddy Gale, Marie Gerardin, Mhairi McLaughlin and Zoe Counter, captained by Patrycja Krzyzaniak.

Oxford took the lead with a 45-38 victory in the Foil. Edinburgh, however, soon closed the gap after winning 45-42 in the Epee. They then closed out the match with a 45-37 win in the Sabre, taking the gold medal and claiming the Championship title for the seventh year in a row.

Upon claiming victory, Mhairi McLaughlin said,

“It’s one of the best teams I’ve ever been in. We all trust each other 100%, and today’s a testament to that. When one person falls, another person picks them back up again. And yeah, I love these girls with all my heart.”

When asked about the moment in the match that stood out to them, Georgia Haynes said,

“It’s very difficult to find a standout moment in the match. But one thing we do always say is that we’re not individuals, we’re the sum of our whole. And that really stood out today because everybody had their down moments, everybody had their up moments. But I’d say that we all kind of played a part in everybody’s match, and that’s why it was so brilliant.”


Meanwhile, the Men’s Championship final was fought between Nottingham Men’s 1 and Durham Men’s 1. The two teams had previously met in the 2022 final at BUCS Big Wednesday, with Durham claiming victory in a close fight. Representing Nottingham this year were Elliott Baxter, Florin Mirica, Freddie Edgecliffe-Johnson, Horace Lee, James Jeal, Joseph Blair, Louis Taiwo, Nicholas Williams and Ryuki Hiyama, captained by Oliver Strange. The team had been narrowly defeated by Durham in two league matches during the 2023-24 season, and were now seeking a comeback.

Durham’s line-up consisted of Alexander Truuvert, Daniel Magor, Darcy Holdsworth, Jacob Forey-Miller, Jamie Briggs, Lorenzo Roma, Mike MacLennan and Timur Gimalov, captained by Louis Bedford. Durham has competed at every BUCS Championship final since 2017, taking gold four times. After narrowly being defeated by KCL Men’s 1 in 2023, they were looking to reclaim the title.

Nottingham started strong in the Foil, taking a 45-33 lead. However, a strong Durham Sabre team then brought the match back with a 45-23 victory. Last to go was the Epee, which was won by Nottingham with a score of 45-35. The final score came to a tie of 113-113; yet with victories in two of the three weapons, Nottingham ultimately took gold. This marked the first time that a Nottingham fencing team has won a BUCS Championship.

Speaking after the team’s victory, Oliver Strange said,

“It’s incredible. It’s quite unreal. We were in the semi-finals last year and then the finals two years before. And it’s just really nice to win for the people who helped us on the journey those last years and this journey now.”

James Jeal added,

“Two years ago we were in the final again, and we were basically in exactly the same position against exactly the same team. I had to come on, all I had to do was draw the last leg, and sadly I lost that, which is obviously quite demoralising. So to come back two years against the same team and then be able to redeem that for the team was really nice and obviously a great way to finish my uni experience.”

When asked what moment stood out to him, Freddie Edgecliffe-Johnson said,

“I’d say the turnaround in the Sabre from like 23 down. It was looking pretty over. I think the boys kind of pulled together and got the best result against Durham that they have this year.”

Photo: University of Nottingham


Congratulations to all of the winners, and well done to all of the university teams who made it this far. We’d also like to thank all of the staff, referees and volunteers who helped to run the event on the day.

Women’s Championship Final Livestream (BUCS YouTube)

Men’s Championship Final Livestream (BUCS YouTube)

Featured image: Izzy Poles via BUCS (Flickr).


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