Sports Editor, Lucy Brogden, spoke to the the women’s seconds, Isa Senica, Durda Vukajlovic and Rachel Wong
How many members in your club?
We have about 70 paid members, but only about 40 members regularly turn up to training. Although we’re a mixed club, we are definitely more male- dominated.
3 types of sword used
How many teams do you have?
We have six teams in total: 3 male and 3 female. Teams have to have a minimum of three players, but there can be anywhere up to nine members. This is because each team has to have three individuals competing in each of the three sword types. Therefore, you can have three people competing in each sword, one person competing in only one sword, or any other variation. Typically, seconds have five members, but today, as we had three members, each of our team played three matches: one for each sword.
So, is fencing a team sport or more of an individual sport?
We compete individually, but all the scores are added together, so it’s very much a team sport. The scores are cumulative, and instead of starting each match from 0-0 you continue where the previous fencer left off, and hope to make up more points. Each match lasts for three minutes, or until the person reaches 5 points. Each fencer has three matches for each sword. Generally, this means that the winning team scores a maximum of 45 points for each sword (there are 15 points on offer for each individual, and 45 altogether for each weapon).
70 paid club members
How do matches work?
Points are awarded every time you hit the other player successfully. There is one point awarded for each hit.
What types of sword are there?
There are three types of sword: épée, sabre and foil. Èpée is the only type of sword where you can be awarded double points (if two people hit each other at the same time). Èpée is the heaviest sword, with a flick blade which means it isn’t that flexible. It is the only sword that doesn’t use ‘priority’ marksmanship, and one point is awarded no matter where on your opponent you hit them.
Sabre is the least flexible sword, and with it you use more of a slashing motion. The aim is to hit your opponent anywhere above the waist, which means you aim for the head and upper body. It uses priority marksmanship.
The final sword is foil. This is the lightest sword, and points are awarded only if you hit someone on the torso. It uses priority. (Priority means that points are awarded to the person who made the attack.)
“Points are awarded every time you hit another player successfully”
Do you get to pick who plays who in a match?
Yes, you get to pick, and as the competition progresses you can suss out who their best players are. Generally, you leave your strongest player until last.
How many training sessions do you have?
We have one two-hour official training session, but there are more sessions on offer. Most people do 1-2 training sessions a week. We train at the fencing centre near Walkergate, which is owned by our coach, Ian Aberdeen.
Is anyone able to join the club?
Yes, we welcome people of all abilities- we are a mixed ability club, and the majority of our members have never played before. However, our first team are made up of predominantly experienced fencers. We run specific beginners sessions for people who have never played before, and after a year of this people then tend to compete for a team if they want to, and we provide all equipment.
“Most, if not all, of our athletes on our first teams are scholarship athletes”
Fencing is one of the best performing BUCS teams at Newcastle. Why are you so successful?
I think it’s mainly because most, if not all, of our athletes on our first teams are scholarship athletes.