Sport has been central to the Eton curriculum for some time – the first ever recorded inter-school fixture is an Eton v Westminster cricket match in 1796, amateur rowing was established here and the Eton House Field Game trophy is even older than the FA Cup. In the 21st century we provide organised sport on six afternoons per week. The sports programme is designed to encourage a rich and diverse experience for boys. Opportunity is key: pupils play for school teams and in House competitions for major sports teams including rugby, hockey and cricket, as well as a broad array of other sports such as fencing, squash, rackets, martial arts and water polo. Most Masters enjoy coaching sports teams and we also employ many coaches whose sole role is to concentrate on one particular sport to offer specialist coaching to pupils or support other staff.
Whilst pupils enjoy playing sports in their own right, the process of engaging in sport at Eton also embodies many qualities promoted by the College. Learning to win and lose; to lead and be led; to push oneself to, and perhaps beyond, one’s perceived limits; to think as part of a team; to know when to strive for more and when to acknowledge defeat – these are all part of learning to be human. Consequently, Eton aims to give every boy the chance to benefit from learning through sport by playing, improving and enjoying the sport of his choice.
Due to the plethora of extracurricular opportunities at hand, I was keen to try my hand at things I’d never done before such as playing the Field Game, a sport which combines elements of football and rugby.Josh, pupil
Representing Eton and your House
The College offers a great deal of coached sports with many boys using this pathway to play for school teams. School teams include, but are not limited to, approximately 45 school rugby and football teams in the Michaelmas half (term), 18 hockey teams in the Lent, 22 cricket teams, 10 rowing crews and over 40 pairs in tennis, as well as school teams in many other sports ranging from basketball to fencing to sailing and climbing. Competitions in House sport take place in all three halves (terms) so that there is at least one competition in each sport during an academic year. Many sports have more than one such competition to allow boys of different standards to play meaningfully and enjoy representing their House.
House fixtures across all sports each year.
Athlete Development Programme
All boys are encouraged to take advantage of the Athlete Development Programme (ADP) regardless of the sports they like to play or the level at which they play them. This programme includes a strength and conditioning element, but also encompasses other areas of physical development that all boys can engage in. Through the ADP, pupils develop their overall athletic performance, including: an appreciation of healthy nutrition, the importance of rest and recovery, and how exercise can have a positive impact on mental health.
It was at schools like Eton that sports first became rationalised and had formal rules introduced. We are proud of the fact that we still play our original football games to this day: the Wall Game and the Field Game. All current boys get a chance to play both games and, in the case of the Field Game, teams of alumni also return to the College every Saturday in the Lent half (term) to have another go. Eton Fives is another ‘original’ sport; although other versions of Fives have also been developed, this game is played nationally and internationally by many schools and clubs, with current Eton pupils making very good use of our 16 courts.
We support boys by providing the finest facilities we can, including a national standard athletics stadium in partnership with local clubs and the rowing lake at Dorney, which was successfully used for the 2012 Olympic Games.
However, these are exciting times as Eton embarks on the next stage of embracing education through sport. We now have four floodlit artificial pitches, and from 2022 to 2024 we will build new indoor facilities, including a new swimming pool and two sports halls. These will all complement our fantastic current outdoor facilities, which include approximately 40 football/rugby pitches, a 2km rowing lake, 19 cricket pitches and 50 tennis courts.