James Triumph in Battle of the Birds Varsity


James took their second victory in the varsity in as many years

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Image by Emily Warner

By Jude Cobb and Charlotte Tabeart

The weekend of 17-19 November saw the start of the 2023 Battle of the Birds varsity be-tween Derwent and James college. Following the victory of Derwent in 2021 and James in 2022, both colleges set out to re-claim their victories.

On the first night of Battle of the Birds, after success for James through-out the day, both James and Derwent supporters lined the JLD waiting for the match to start.

The match had a dramatic opening with Derwent quickly taking possession of the ball to score the first goal. However, this did not deter the James team who followed with two goals in quick succession in the eigth and tenth minutes of the match, leading to great cheers from the James supporters. These celebrations continued as after being given a corner the James team scored once again.

James continued to dominate the match but Derwent refused to give up, scoring another goal in the 46th minute. But this was shortly followed by a James goal scored from a penalty that meant that game reached half-time at a score of 4-2 to James.

But this was quickly followed by two goals from the James team and from here James continued to dominate the match. Both teams scored another goal before the match hit half time.

In the second half, both teams continued in the attempt to secure the victory for their college, but James continued to dominate possession of the ball, scoring another goal. Leaving the match as a 5-2 victory for the Swans.

Success for James continued across the weekend, especially with the Netball teams. The James and Derwent Netball 1s, 2s, 3s and 4s played throughout the weekend in which James won three with the Netball 4s ending in a draw on Saturday.

The James 2s team gained a massive win of 19-4 as the players continued to dominate the game from start to finish. They had a strong start, scoring seven goals to Derwent’s one. But Derwent came back fighting in the second half closing the gap by scoring three more goals, however the brilliant match did end in James’ victory.

Taking place before the opening ceremony, the men’s basketball game had an electric start with the James team quickly taking the lead, with a couple of unspectacular, yet important, baskets. This was followed by a return two pointer from Derwent. These back and forth baskets were the order of the day for the first two quar-ters. It is important to note however the poor discipline of the Derwent defence, giving away multiple free throws, though none were converted in this section of the game. The Derwent attack were equally ineffective, despite scoring six points they had one free throw ruled out for an infraction, meaning they failed to level the game to 7-7, with James eventually stretching their lead to 11-7 at half time.

The third and fourth quarters followed a largely similar pattern, with James eking out a small lead, despite their lack of quality from free throws, though they did eventually score one. Importantly however, they did give away multiple baskets following missed free throws and effective counter attacks from Derwent. Despite this, they saw off the challenge with two late, morale destroying baskets, to cause an early capitula-tion from the Derwent players and to come out 20-15 winners. Therefore, in a game of missed free throws, the talented James attack in open play proved decisive.

This extended their reclaimed lead in the Battle, picking up the torch from the volleyball and women’s foot-ball team, after James’ victory in the early cricket match. The James College teams then continued this dominance across the whole week-end, with the eventual score reaching 41-10 in favour of the Swans. With the darts closing ceremony emblematic of the Battle, with James claiming the final five points, to increase their victory margin. Though Derwent did demonstrate quality in cricket, rugby and table tennis their lack of ability to take points in the majority of sports proved to be their undoing. This is to take nothing away from James and their dominant performance, in the three sports discussed, as well as during the rest of the weekend.

Therefore, James took their second victory in the varsity in as many years, surely a huge morale boost, as they look to retain the title next year