Ipswich/Oxford/Cambridge: Town cheerleader takes on new rivalry

The Oxford Sirens. Susan Hawkins, top right.

The Oxford Sirens. Susan Hawkins, top right. - Credit: Contributed

IT’S one of the world’s great rivalries, dating back hundreds of years.

The annual Boat Race and varsity rugby match clashes between Cambridge and Oxford universities attract huge interest both in the UK and around the globe.

But now there is a new battleground between the country’s two oldest higher education institutions – and an Ipswich girl is playing her part in the unusual rivalry.

At the weekend the Oxford Sirens took on the Cambridge Cougars... in a national cheerleading competition.

Former Northgate High School student Susan Hawkins, who lives in north east Ipswich, is the president of the Sirens.

But the 21-year-old says the fierce rivalry seen in contests between Oxford and Cambridge on the rugby field and on the Thames are not replicated in her sport.

The A* student said: “I don’t think the grudge and rivalry is really relevant for cheerleading, mainly because the two teams are in different leagues and before this we hadn’t really competed.

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Susan, who is reading biology and is from north east Ipswich, has been cheerleading for the Oxford University squad since enrolling on her course in 2010.

“I have been in the Sirens since I was a fresher and I am now in my third year,” she said.

“The competition at the weekend went really well. It involved meeting several criteria including tumbling, which is basically gymnastics, a dance section and also set certain moves such as pyramids.

“The results and winners haven’t been announced yet so we are still waiting on them.

“It was the first time we had taken on the Cambridge team and it was organised for the event.

“I think it is something we will do next year again.”

The squad do not perform at sports matches, but instead compete in events to showcase their dancing and acrobatics.

Sunday’s contest saw about 60 universities taking part.

Competition between Oxford and Cambridge dates back to 1209 when Cambridge was founded by scholars taking refuge from hostile townsmen in Oxford.

The boat race was founded in 1829, with the first being won by Oxford. The other major Oxbridge competitions are the rugby union and rugby league varsity matches. The rugby union match is played annually at Twickenham, while the league match is held at The Stoop, also in Twickenham and home of the Harlequins Rugby League.

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