Women’s fencers claim first BUCS victory

The women’s fencers wrapped up their first win of their season yesterday, defeating the University of Manchester

Image: Justyn Hardcastle

Image: Justyn Hardcastle



York’s only BUCS Premier League participants, the women’s fencing team, registered their first league win of the season this afternoon, beating the University of Manchester firsts 123-107.

After last week’s agonising one-point defeat in the season-opener at home to the University of Birmingham, the York team bounced back against Manchester, welcoming captain Louise Highton back to the side, and it was she who secured the victory for York in resounding fashion, winning the final bout of the match 5-0.

But it was not all plain sailing for the home side, with York having to rely on the superiority of Highton, Katharine Gracey and Becky Ellis in Épée to wrest victory from the Manchester team after initially losing ground in Sabre and then Foil.

Image: Justyn Hardcastle

The match began with Sabre, and, despite a solid start from Gracey and Lizzie Smith, York slowly began to surrender their lead and Manchester finished the first weapon ahead with the score at 45-38.

York began Foil in much the same manner as they had ended Sabre, narrowly losing three of the first four bouts, and were 20-14 behind when Northern Ireland international Katharine Gracey collapsed with a recurrence of a hip injury, after just one point of her second bout in the weapon. The injury – a tear in the acetabular labrum, the cartilage surrounding the socket of the hip joint – means that, with every lunge, a partial dislocation of the joint is a very real possibility. Remarkably, Gracey battled on to complete both of her remaining Foil bouts, winning the second of these 10-5, but York never made up the small points advantage accrued by their opponents in the first few bouts of the weapon and Manchester’s Jenny Schofield wrapped up the final bout of the weapon; her team taking it 45-40.

After two weapons, Manchester led by 12 points, and so required a minimum of 34 points from the final weapon, Épée. “A likely outcome” the casual spectator may have remarked after Mancunian victories in first two weapons, but with this final weapon being York’s strongest by quite a way, the team still had confidence that they could more than overturn the deficit. Lizzie Smith joined Highton and a now-recovered Gracey, ranked 33rd and 48th in Britain respectively in this discipline, and the York trio didn’t lose a single bout.

Image: Justyn Hardcastle

Manchester were restricted to registering just 17 hits with the weapon as York thumped their opponents for 45, securing the overall win by a margin of 16 points. The versatile Gracey, deployed for each of the three weapons, and Highton were in particularly good form with both ladies demolishing Manchester captain Eleanor Akers 5-0, and smashing their Manchester counterparts for aggregate scores of 15-3 and 15-4 respectively over the three bouts.

York would not want rely too heavily on their strength with the Épée in the future, but it was an ultimately satisfying result for the team, demonstrating that they do indeed have what it takes to compete at Premier League level in the wake of the potentially disheartening Birmingham result.

The oft-used sporting mantra that “there are no easy games in this league” is quite obviously appropriate to any BUCS Premier League, and the team look forward to next week’s match at home to Edinburgh University firsts knowing that there will be no greater test this season than a match-up with last year’s unbeaten League champions.


Sabre: Lizzie Smith, Stacie Sachs, Katharine Gracey
Foil: Becky Ellis, Louise Highton, Katharine Gracey
Epée: Becky Ellis, Katharine Gracey, Louise Highton


Sabre: Hannah Burn, Jenny Schofield, Eleanor Akers
Rachael Anderson, Jenny Schofield, Hannah Burn
Jenny Schofield, Eleanor Akers, Hannah Burn

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