Oxbridge All-Stars - Lacrosse World Championship Festival - Netanya, Israel
6am, 12th July 2018. London, England.
George Dury awakes and sits bolt upright in his bed. He leaps out of bed and runs across the hall into Gabe Barrie's room.
"Holiday! Holiday! Holiday!", he shouts.
Gabe grumbles, rolls over and scrambles for his glasses. He musters the energy to sit up.
"Okay, just a minute, Dury."
"Yayyy", George says turning for the door.
He runs back across the hall and bursts into the next room.
"Holiday!", he bellows again.
William Barrie is already sat up in bed reading The Telegraph. Slowly, he sighs and peers over his spectacles.
"Let's go then."
The trio bundle onto the train. George is instantly bewildered by highly advanced technology which the locals appear to refer to as 'the Tube' (you see, Dear Reader, George is from the north). However, George's bewilderment is suddenly overridden by the realisation that the flight takes off from Luton in a matter hours but the three of them are still in the centre of London.
"Make it go quicker!", George whines.
The Barrie twins take little notice, Gabe shrugging him away when he began tugging at his shirt.
Despite George's concerns, and after a frantic dash through the airport, they make the WizzAir flight from Luton to Tel Aviv - now with James Price, Ryan Power and (most importantly) the kit in tow.
* * * * * * *
11pm, 12th July 2018. Netanya, Israel.
Fresh off their flight, the five men (and the kit) bundle into the house in a quiet backstreet of Netanya to be greeted by a room of unamused looking gentlemen, eating pasta and scooping a lumpy substance from the inside of a watermelon. These, Dear Reader, are your 2018 Oxbridge Allstars. A broad range of size, talent, experience and strength of actual link to Oxford or Cambridge, these men had been carefully selected by this year's captain, Cameron Montgomery, to represent the universities they may or may not have attended. Although, unfortunately for the Allstars, Monty had been selected as an alternative for Scotland and would not be staying in the Allstar House.
It is at this point a loud bang is heard from the downstairs bedroom. The door peels open to reveal Theodore Hayes sprawled out naked across the living room floor, his bed in several pieces next to him.
"This wouldn't have happened if Andrew was here", he groaned.
Before anyone can take the time to help him repair the mess, Lucas McCollum of Durham comes bounding through the living room yapping about the delicious pasta meal he has prepared for everyone, his watermelon vodka mix and an unknown man referred to only as Johny Christmas; Charles Bleach (also of Durham) begrudgingly following young Lucas around round. One can already see the fury rising in George as he grumbles at the sound of Lucas' booming voice. He retires to bed before he loses his temper.
* * * * * * *
9am, 13th July 2018. Netanya, Israel.
The Allstars assemble for their first game against Blues Fest reigning champions, The Highlanders. After the Official Oxbridge Allstars breakfast of champions consisting of Cheerios, Cap'n Crunch, Waffle Crisp and Scrambled eggs they set off. The party bus, with Will Barrie at the helm, sets of first; tamely humming away to the sounds of Gabe Barrie until White Flag is ceremoniously played as the car enters the ground with James, Ryan and George melodiously singing along from the spacious back seats of the rental car. They arrive at Shapira Field, an arena they would soon make their home away from home, where they are met by Monty (who had been selected as an alternative for Scotland and would not be staying in the Allstar house) along with Will Clarke (Exeter) and Joe Chomet (Loughborough). Finally, the other car arrives, having been delayed by Stuart Cummings and Theodore Hayes' insistence that they find a way to play Radio 4 (to no avail), with Seb Tippelskirch, Rishi Goel and Rishi's disseration following in behind. The Allstars were also joined here by Ben Berven (brother of Oxford's new head coach, Alistair) and serial eggplant holder Connor Brody. Finally, Teddy Seem came to the party at halftime, even if so sleep deprived and starved he couldn't yet get on the field.
By this point, the morning has nearly passed and the Israeli sun is beating down on the turf so George took the initiative and approached MLL Allstar Zach Currier to politely ask him to get Team Canada out of the way so the Allstars could get on with things. Much to George's discontent, Currier pretended not to know George.
"He's just acting cool in front of the Canada guys, we're good buds really."
Despite his insistence of their long-term friendship, George would return home to the UK and ceremonially torch a brand new Warp for the affront.
Once Canada left the field at the allotted time (unmoved by the attempts of the short man they couldn't understand), the Allstars got to work. Although not before a mysterious figure appeared from the shadows. No, I am not talking about Brucie Morris (not only had he already arrived - surprisingly, but he also managed to avoid any shadows in his entire time in Israel, resulting in severe facial sunburn - we wish you a swift recovery Brucie!). This was a different man. One that none of the Allstars had never met before (and would never meet again). As he approached the Allstars began to chatter. Was it the ref? Was it John Grant Jr? Was it Johny Christmas? No. This was Jim. Jim carried no kit, no stick, not even a backpack; but he was ready to play. So without much questioning Jim was swiftly kitted up and shoved onto the field.
Play commenced and the Allstars did their thing. In midfield, Power won the faceoffs, Barrie (the LSM one) gobbled the GBs, Dury awkwardly avoided putting the stick in his left hand, Hayes awkwardly avoided playing defence, McCollum wore red and Tippelskirch was unpronounceable by the monolingual Brits in the team. Meanwhile in D the vast number of poles provided a brick wall against all the Highlanders could throw at them with Montgomery, Clarke and Price dishing out punishing checks and Berven and Bleach working hard in transition. In the cage Cummings and Chomet showed some unbelievable shot stopping as well proving effective in defence with a long pole in hand. In offence, the trio of Barrie (the shorter, fatter and more punchable one), Brody and Goel proved effective, all of them racking up the points. Meanwhile, Jim insisted on taking it to the onion bag (aka goal hole) time and time again, in between giving the less experienced members of the team helpful advice such as: "Always shoot sidearm", "pass me the ball" and "stop playing offence". Thanks Jim.
A solid 9-1 win for the Allstars was quickly followed by a dip in the pool. Some members of the team decided to take a trip down to the Wingate Institute to watch the World Championships, some decided to stay home and have a BBQ, Rishi decided to work on his dissertation. George Dury on the other hand decided to wonder round the house naked, shower with the door open and scratch his goal tally onto the walls. He was finally restrained by his teammates who forced him into some clothes and sent him to Wingate.
* * * * * * *
8am, 14th July 2018. Netanya, Israel.
The Allstars would have been thankful for the earlier start but for Team Serve's tardiness forcing a later faceoff. Clearly a tactical decision by the Americans, having heard whispers of the result the day before and as such, despite a valiant performance by the Allstars, they struggled to breakdown the various pros, ex-pros and current college stars.
Despite the 8-3 defeat, the author will dwell here on a particular highlight of the game. Late into the first quarter, Team Serve have just scored another goal and Ryan Power and Stephen 'Bones' Kelly line up for the faceoff. Down. Set. Face. In a flash the two FOGOs fight for the clamp and, to the surprise of the bench, all the other players, Kelly and even Power himself, the new Oxford co-captain has cleanly won the clamp. He hops to his feet and pops the ball forward, making chase for the GB. The ball enters Power's head and he attempts to get into his cradling motion. What happens after this point is irrelevant. Maybe Power took it all the way to the cage and stuck it top cheddar or maybe Kelly immediately stopped him from advancing any further with a diving check. Who cares. All that matters is the first bit and also that this happened at least once more. Let's move on.
Meanwhile, Jim was putting in yet another DOD performance, scoring the majority of the Allstar goals, telling players to give him the ball and ignoring anything anyone else had to say. Sorry Jim, scoring all the goals won't stop you getting dropped and it certainly won't get you back across the Israeli-Jordanian border after a day trip to Petra.
After the loss, the party bus took a day trip to Acre to absorb the history and culture of Israel. The others did something else. George got naked again and everyone was offended. You know the story.
* * * * * * *
8am, 15th July 2018. Netanya, Israel.
Today the Allstars prepared to face Eire, the Irish Development Squad. Before we get to the game, I thought I'd give you some information on the beautiful nation of Ireland. A country just off the West Coast of Great Britain (about 7000km, or 4300 miles for the Irish who still mainly rely on imperial measurements) with a population of around 325 million, the Irish are famous for their controversial choice of leaders, extremist organisations and funny accents. The majority of the Eire squad hailed from one of Ireland's most populous cities, New York, and had a proud Irish heritage.
"I'm all Irish", the faceoff guy remarked.
The Allstars struggled against the fierce pressure of the Eire defence and a second half pushback couldn't stop a 9-3 defeat. George earned himself the DOD award with a glaring false acc on Lucas as he marched back to the sideline, being caught live on camera. For his heinous crimes, George was lumped with an eggplant of absurd proportions, vastly outweighing that which had been awarded to Lucas the day before (Jim not being present to claim his prize).
This famous eggplant joined the Allstars on their first group trip to the Wingate Institute to witness Rabil score almost as many goals as Hayes, Gurenlian get away with cheating for 79 minutes and, more importantly, get a glimpse of Alistair Berven work his usual magic with his 6ft shaft on the international stage. The Eire defeat quickly becoming a distant memory.
* * * * * * *
11am, 16th July 2018. Jerusalem, Israel.
With a day off from gameplay today (pre-emptively booked by the optimists among the team imagining a jaded day by the pool still humming "it's coming home"), the Allstars headed to Jerusalem. Although Captain Monty stayed back in Netanya for this one (he had been selected as an alternative for Scotland). The party bus took their arrival as the opportunity to loudly sing the namesake hymn at full volume in the car park. Meanwhile, the other car listened to an audiobook and arrived 30 minutes earlier.
After a day of taking in the rich culture and asking George to see the eggplant, the Allstars trotted back to the Wingate to take in some world class lacrosse.
"Take your shirt off", screamed the Australian fans, leaving the Barrie twins to wrestle George to keep his clothes on.
"No, George, they're Australian!", barked Gabe.
They drag him from the stands and put him in the car. Time to go home.
* * * * * * *
6am, 17th July 2018. Netanya, Israel.
An early start for the Allstars against Israel Blue. Despite this being an Under 19 side, it was clear certain members of the Allstars would be taking no prisoners. A solid victory.
"Who bull dodged that child in the first minute of the game?", George asked in the car back.
Power shrugged and looked out the window.
"Crushed him", he thought to himself, grinning.
After signing some autographs for Casey Powell, the Allstars spent the day by the pool or at the beach, where Captain Monty made an appearance before sliding away early (he had been selected as an alternative for Scotland), before hosting another BBQ, playing 'bad clap, bad clap' and 20+1 (the favourite number of OULC best buds Max Wintle and Theo Hayes). They soon realised this would be a mistake given the 5am start, but clap they did.
* * * * * * *
5am, 18th July 2018. Netanya, Israel.
This report is comfortably over 2000 words at this point. If you're still here, you already know what we did. If you don't, why are you still here? Regardless, a well worked 6-5 victory for the Allstars taking inspiration from the Canadian clock killing tactics from the night before.
After some heckling of the USA West team and an extended nap, the Allstars headed to Wingate for even more lacrosse.
* * * * * * *
9am, 19th July 2018. Netanya, Israel.
Israel White, you know the story. We lost the second half 8-2 but still won by 2 goals, Brody won the eggplant. It is also worth mentioning here that Theodore Hayes (unusually referred to here without mentioning a certain Andrew Bithell) slotted two goals of his own. Hayes will now be running a shooting clinic in Oxford during preseason at just £200 per player (includes lunch and a photo with Theodore).
* * * * * * *
5am, 20th July 2018. Netanya, Israel.
After a successful pooling stage, the Allstars got set to face Team Serve for the second time round in the 5th Place Playoff and another very early start for the sides. Even though a number of the Team Serve players had returned home to play in the MLL, the Allstars were still unable to pick apart the Americans and suffered a relatively narrow 8-4 loss to close out the tournament in 6th place of 12. Brody won the eggplant.
To celebrate their success the Allstars took to the streets of Netanya that evening, much to the distain of the locals and the joy of the nearby bar owners. On this adventure, the Allstars endeavoured to test the strength of all the tables in the first and only bar they could find. Good work lads.
* * * * * * *
10am, 21st July 2018. Netanya, Israel.
The Allstars just about managed to scramble out of the door to the nearby stadium to see USA take home the gold. Unsurprisingly, various members of the squad weren't feeling very well. Funny that.
With some members of the squad having already departed, it was now time for the remainder to go their separate ways. One-by-one, the Allstars travelled back to their hometowns, ranging from Whitley Bay to Bognor Regis, from the US of A to the Netherlands. Until next year. (Did someone say Oxbridge Allstars Men and Women in 2019? #integrates)