Eton’s pupils, their families, and staff at the College were treated to a wide range of activities on Saturday 25 November in celebration of St Andrew’s Day.
The celebration is a significant event in the College’s calendar and the festivities and the weather did not disappoint!
In addition to the legendary clash of the Collegers versus the Oppidans at the Wall, those joining the celebrations were given the opportunity to enjoy performances in Debating and Speeches; excerpts from school productions this half; music from the Eton College Musical Society and the Jazz Band; exhibition matches in Rackets, Fencing, Water Polo and Association football to name a few, and visits to the College Collections and Design and Drawing Schools. Fencing
The salle was crowded with spectators as the first match began between two fencers, Cyrus Tehranchian and Caspar Soyoye. They were using foils, one of three swords in fencing including Épée and Sabre, demanding perhaps the most complex style of fighting, where each match is a constant back-and-forth exchange of attacking and defending. The nature of right of way for the foil means that if both fencers hit each other at the same time then the attacker claims the point. Therefore, unless you want to risk a counter-attack, you must first be attacking to score a point, leading to a fast-paced and intense match where each fencer had to plan their own movements while anticipating those of their opponent. Both were hugely evenly matched, and eventually the fight came down to fourteen points on each side, before Cyrus landed the final hit.
More followed, as the salle was split between two matches at either end; at one the Foilists continued to fight, and at the other the Épéeists began. The contrast between Foil and Épée became ever clearer as the fights continued. Épée disregards the attacker's priority entirely; the first to hit wins, and if both fencers are hit then both of them get the points. This led to a game which went from careful, slow movements in which each fencer waited for the other to make his move, to sudden and unexpected lunges without the slightest hesitation. The final match returned to the foil, where Cyrus Tehranchian and Niccolo Fusai fought the closest match yet, in which the time pressure of the game became all the more obvious with the timer ending on a 4:4 draw. To settle the stalemate, another minute was given in which the first point scored would decide the victor of the match. Without hesitation, Cyrus took up the attack and managed to score the last hit within the first few seconds of the round, securing the victory and bringing the exhibition to a climactic end.
Peter Anderson Water Polo
Twas a hot and wet morning in the swimming pool of St. Andrew’s day when the Water Polo match between Etonians and Old Etonians’s commenced, in contrast to the wintry weather that donned the College on Saturday morning. This annual tradition is usually a close match, but this year was not the year for the Etonians – the OE’s were just too strong. Down 3-0 in the first quarter and 5-0 by the end of the first half, the Etonians managed to claw back 3 goals before ending the third quarter 8-3. In the exciting last quarter, however, the exhausted OE’s started to slack, and so they even gave some F Block boys the chance to play! Yet, it was not enough for the Etonians to turn the scoreline their way. Final Score: 9-4. Well played everyone, and many thanks to Dr Purshouse for helping organise the match, and Mr Geoff Williams for refereeing.
Historic Buildings Tour
While the Eton Wall Game drew its expected crowds of parents and boys out to College Field, Mr Nolan and Mr Macleod led crowds of parents around the school on a tour of Eton’s historic buildings. Parents and boys had the chance to see Lower School, where they learned of the school’s founding as a religious institution, its struggles against the Yorkist rule of Edward IV, and the role of several men, including William Waynflete and Roger Lupton, in turning Eton’s struggling reputation into one of academic merit and prestige. The Head Master’s School and College Chapel also formed part of the tour, with historical insight into the construction and maintenance of each building visited.
Photos: Jasper Sodha and Thomas Ward