Going into the 24th European Championships of Tamburello in Madrid both Oxford teams (men and ladies) knew they had their work cut out for them. The groups were announced 2 weeks prior to the tournament with the Oxford ladies drawn against Poussan (French champions) and Farola (Catalan champions). The Oxford men were drawn against Vallersleben (German champions), Florensac (French champions) and Barcelona Tambourine Club (BTC, 2nd in Catalunya).
Oxford ladies played Farola first and sadly lost 13-4. Despite the slow start, the next match against Poussan went much better when the Oxford ladies took 6 games from the French champions to end with a 13-6 loss. Going through bottom of their group meant that the ladies next faced the hosts Madrid and comfortably achieved their first victory of the tournament 13-3 to start the placement of ladies teams in Europe. Dresden were the next opponents and whichever team won this final game would be placed 7th in Europe. The ladies had their best game of the tournament to finish their campaign with a victory over the German champions 13-6. Well done ladies!
Oxford men played Florensac in their first group stage match and were swiftly dealt with by the French champions 13-1. If it is any consolation to the men from Oxford, Forensac went on to play against Cournonterral in the mens final. Next up for Oxford was Vallersleben, a team firmly in the sights of Oxford to beat. After an incredibly close-fought match where the men from Oxford showed that they are now a team that are competitive on this international stage the final score was sadly 13-9 to the Germans. Despite the loss, spirits were at an all time high after performing so well against the German champions. The final group stage match was against BTC who proved to be a very strong side. It ended with a comfortable win for BTC with the Oxford men only managing 3 games to the Catalans 13.
Then started the placement matches for Oxford men and first up was Budapest, the Hungarian champions. Much like the match against Vellersleben, a fantastic performance was sadly followed by a loss of 13-9. The final match was for 10th place and was between Oxford and Rodeiro (2nd ranked in Spain). Despite looking like the Oxford men would win for most parts of the match Rodeiro showed their experience in closing the match out to end with another 13-9 loss.
Both Oxford ladies and men should be very proud of their achievements in this their 2nd international tournament together. The hard work in training, tactics and mindset have shown that these teams have a place alongside the best in Europe. Both teams have a year to prepare for the next championships where the aim for the ladies is to qualify for the finals following the group stages and for the men is to secure their first victory and start rising up the rankings in Europe.