Blue (university sport)

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A Blue is an award earned by athletes at a university and some schools for competition at the highest level. The awarding of Blues began at Oxford and Cambridge universities in England. It is awarded at British, Australian and New Zealand universities.

History[edit]

The first sporting contest between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge was held on 4 June 1827, when a two-day cricket match at Lord's, organized by Charles Wordsworth, nephew of the poet William, resulted in a draw. There is no record of any university "colours" being worn during the game.[1][2]

At the first Boat Race in 1829, the Oxford crew was dominated by students of Christ Church, whose college colours were dark blue. They wore white shirts with dark blue stripes, while Cambridge wore white with a pink or scarlet sash. At the second race, in 1836, a light blue ribbon was attached to the front of the Cambridge boat, probably as it was the colour of Eton. These colours — light blue for Cambridge, and dark blue for Oxford — became the official colours of the two boat clubs, and through the rivalry of the Boat Race, the colours became inextricably linked with the universities and contests between the two.[1][3]

University of Cambridge[edit]

Athletes at the University of Cambridge may be awarded a Full Blue (or simply a Blue), Half Blue, First Team Colours or Second Team Colours for competing at the highest level of university sport, which must include being in a Varsity match or race against the University of Oxford. A Full Blue is the highest honour that may be bestowed on a Cambridge athlete, and is a much-coveted and prestigious prize. In general, the Full Blue standard is approximately that of being successful at a national level of student competition, and the Half Blue standard is that of being successful at county or regional level.

History[edit]

Once light blue had been chosen as the colour of Cambridge's Boat Club, the other university sport clubs followed suit, though out of courtesy would request permission from the Boat Club before awarding such a "Blue". In the 1860s the three senior sports — rowing, cricket and athletics — were awarding Blues, and the presidents of each formed an informal "Blues Committee" to oversee such awards. By 1880 a number of smaller clubs involved in Varsity matches had successfully requested the right to award "Half Blues".[1]

Awarding process[edit]

The criteria for awarding blues are different for men and women. Awards are made at the discretion of the men's and women's Blues Committees.[4] The Men's Blues Committee is formed from one representative of each of the Full Blue sports, and the Women's from one representative of each of the Full Blue and Half Blue sports. Each committee meets frequently to discuss issues relating to Cambridge sport.

In some sports with Full Blue status, the varsity match second team is awarded Second Team Colours.

The awarding of a Full Blue often requires a person to fulfill a number of requirements in the same academic year, particularly in sports with Discretionary Full Blue status. If, for whatever reason, an exceptional athlete is of or above Full Blue standard but does not fulfill all the requirements for the 'automatic' award of a Full Blue in any given year, the committee has the authority to grant an Extraordinary Full Blue to that person subject to scrutiny of the particular case. The individual's case must be presented to the Blues Committee in person and must be backed up by substantial evidence and references. The award is unlikely to be made unless the person is of world-class or at least international standard.

Each sport has specific criteria for each award; details of the individual criteria for women's sports can be found here, and are summarised below.

Categorisation of men's sports[edit]

Full Blue - whole team
Boxing, cricket, field hockey, football, golf, lawn tennis, rowing, rugby union, squash, gymnastics
Full Blue (some) / Half Blue (rest)
Athletics, basketball, cross country running, rugby league, swimming, ice hockey
Discretionary Full Blue
Badminton, canoeing, cycling, dancesport, fencing, judo, powerlifting, ice hockey, karate, lacrosse (Oxford), modern pentathlon, orienteering, rifle shooting (small-bore and full-bore), sailing, skiing, water polo, real tennis
Half Blue
Archery, Australian rules football, Eton and Rugby fives, ice hockey, chess, kickboxing, korfball, lacrosse, lightweight rowing, mountain biking, pistol shooting, polo, rackets, Association Croquet, clay pigeon shooting, riding, rifle shooting (small-bore and full-bore), table tennis, volleyball, windsurfing, and yachting
Under review
Gaelic football, American football

Categorisation of women's sports[edit]

Full Blue - whole team
Fencing, football, hockey, lacrosse, lawn tennis, netball, rowing, rugby union, squash
Full Blue (some) / Half Blue (rest)
Athletics, cricket, dancesport, modern pentathlon, swimming, volleyball, basketball
Discretionary Full Blue
Badminton, cross-country, cycling, gymnastics, ice hockey, judo, karate, orienteering, rifle shooting (full-bore), sailing, skiing, volleyball, boxing, real tennis
Half Blue
Archery, canoeing, canoe polo, cricket, Eton Fives, gliding, golf, ice hockey, korfball, lifesaving, lightweight rowing, orienteering, association croquet, pistol shooting, riding, rifle shooting (small-bore), taekwondo, trampolining, triathlon, windsurfing, waterpolo, ultimate (if they compete in the Open division), yachting
Under review
Table tennis, windsurfing

Regalia[edit]

Cambridge University Half Blue blazer and bow tie.

The winner of a Blue or Half Blue is entitled to wear a blues blazer, which is one of the most recognisable and distinctive garments associated with Cambridge University. Full Blue blazers are completely coloured Cambridge Blue. Half Blue blazers have a number of different designs, depending on the wearer's sport; a typical design is an off-white blazer with Cambridge blue lapels and trimmings. There is a variety of other Blue and Half Blue paraphernalia, including scarves, ties, pullovers, bow ties, caps and squares. Such items are worn with pride.

As of May 2011, the colour recognised officially by the University as Cambridge Blue actually has a slight green tint.[5]

Hawks' Club/Ospreys[edit]

Men holding Blues, Half Blues or Second Team Colours in a Full Blue sport are eligible to join the Hawks' Club. Women holding any of these awards are eligible to join The Ospreys, which was founded in 1985.[6]

University of Oxford[edit]

Administration[edit]

At the University of Oxford, the committees for awarding Blues and Half-Blues work on much the same principles as the Cambridge committees. The principal difference between the two men's committees is that, at Oxford, all Captains, regardless of their status as Full, Discretionary, or Half-Blue must attend meetings of the Committee. Until recently, the voting was broken up according to Blues status with Full Blue Captains being allowed to vote on all matters while all the other Captains could only vote on matters directly relating to Half-Blue Sports. In Michaelmas Term 2006, the committee finally allowed Discretionary Full Blue Captains the right to vote on matters directly relating to Discretionary Full Blue Sports. This has ended many years of inequality for Discretionary Full Blue status Captains and was largely welcomed by the committee.

The committees are administered by an elected President and Secretary who serve one year. Unlike at Cambridge, where the President of Cambridge University Boat Club holds the position, at Oxford, any Captain can be elected President, regardless of sport or status.

The role of the President is to call and serve as Chair of any meeting of the committee, of which there are normally 3 per year (6 for the women). They also serve as the representative of the committee and sit on the University Sports Strategy Committee and the Executive Committee of the Sports Federation. Both Presidents along with the Director of Sport represent Oxford at any meetings of a Joint Blues Committee held with Cambridge. The purpose of the Joint Blues Committee is to discuss issues of eligibility for the Varsity match and to settle any disputes between the sporting communities of the two universities.

Oxford University Rifle Club Half Blue blazer and tie

The current executive of the two committees are:[7]

Oxford University Men’s Blues Committee

  • President: Alex Fraser (Modern Pentathlon, Queen's College)
  • Secretary: Fergus Imrie (Rugby Fives, Lady Margaret Hall)
  • Treasurer: Jacob Shah (Taekwon Do, New College)

Oxford University Women’s Blues Committee

  • President: Bridget Fryer (Rowing, Oriel)
  • Secretary: Ann Hyams (Swimming, St John's)

Both Committees share a common Senior Member. The post currently being held by the Director of Sport Jon Roycroft. [8]

Costume[edit]

The colour of an Oxford Full Blue blazer is dark blue. The Oxford Half Blue blazer can be one of two designs. Either it is composed of thick vertical stripes of dark blue and off-white, as in the image to the right, or it can be dark blue, as the Full Blue blazer, with two white stripes above the club badge on the left breast.

Clubs[edit]

The club for Oxford Blues is Vincent’s Club, although it is not restricted to Blues. Atalantas is a club for sportswomen at Oxford, and also is not restricted to Blues.

'Blues' in Australia[edit]

University of Adelaide[edit]

The Adelaide University Sports Association at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, South Australia awards a Blue and a Half Blue for outstanding sporting achievement, and a Club Letters for both sporting achievement and service.[9]

'Blues' in New Zealand[edit]

Since 1919 the New Zealand Universities Blue has been awarded to NZ University students who have achieved excellence both on and off the field of play. Currently University Sport New Zealand is responsible for presenting this award[10]

In addition, individual universities will award their own Blues. For example, University of Otago Blues date from 1907,[11] therefore pre-dating the New Zealand Universities Blue.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Christopher Thorne (10 July 1996). "Blues and the Blues Committee: Some historical notes". Cambridge University Blues Committee. 
  2. ^ "Oxford University v Cambridge University, University Match 1827". cricketarchive.co.uk. 
  3. ^ Norris McWhirter. "The Oxford Blue". Vincent's Club. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Identity guidelines - fifth edition". University of Cambridge. 25 March 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "About the Ospreys". Cambridge University Women's Sports Club. 
  7. ^ The History of the Varsity Match and the Blue, sport.ox.ac.uk, retrieved 1 May 2012 
  8. ^ http://oxforduniversityblues.com
  9. ^ "AWARDS". The Adelaide University Sports Association. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  10. ^ http://www.universitysport.org.nz/nzu-blues
  11. ^ http://www.ousa.org.nz/recreation/blues-and-golds-awards/

External links[edit]

Cambridge University
Oxford University
Other universities