OUAC members who have competed for the University against Cambridge are then invited to join the Achilles Club. The Club is exclusively for past and present OUAC and CUAC members, and exists to help strengthen and maintain for life the friendships forged between University club mates and their rivals at Cambridge. To this end the Achilles Club shoulders the following responsibilities.
Every fourth year Achilles arranges a tour to the USA for a series of matches against the Ivy League Universities: this tour is exclusively for Oxford and Cambridge students, and all OUAC members are eligible for consideration for selection for one such tour. In the intervening years, Achilles hosts reciprocal matches for visiting American teams, which OUAC athletes are expected to support.
Other major overseas tours are arranged which are open to all Achilles members, past and present students alike: these are a particularly enjoyable way of broadening athletic, social and geographic horizons. In September 2002 Achilles visited Singapore (winning 14 medals in their National Championships) and Australia (where they were royally received by Sydney University AC). In recent years Achilles teams have toured to Austria, China (twice), Japan, Hong Kong and South Africa, and undertaken shorter domestic trips to eg. the Channel Islands and the Isle of Wight.
Achilles enters teams for several matches in the UK each year. They offer good class competition and a friendly opportunity for past and present members of CUAC and OUAC to compete together.
Several Achilles events are held each year, including dinners and dances. There is always a dinner for old members after the Varsity Match; a dinner in New York is becoming an annual fixture; a Ball is often held in London; and impromptu barbecues and curries after matches are commonplace.
An annual magazine is circulated free to members, drawing together reports on Oxford v Cambridge and Achilles matches, rankings lists, news of members, reminiscences and many other items of interest. A fixture card is included, listing forthcoming OUAC events plus Achilles and CUAC events, social occasions and planned tours. Updated bulletins are circulated by email and on the club’s website.
Most of the organisational structure which gives continuity to the Varsity match and other events in the OUAC calendar is provided by the Achilles Club. The President, Captain and Hon. Sec of OUAC, and their immediate Past-President, are all ex officio members of the Achilles Club committee.
OUAC could not thrive in the way it does without the financial assistance it receives from Achilles members’ subscriptions and older members’ voluntary charitable donations to the Achilles Trust.
To be invited to join Achilles’ illustrious membership is an honour, and is reserved for athletes who compete in Oxford v Cambridge matches. Election is for life and enables members to maintain contact with contemporaries and with OUAC long after they have gone down. Visit the Club’s own website: www.achilles.org
Bill Wentworth flanked by OUAC athletes on the recent tour to Australia. Wentworth ran the 800m for OUAC in two Varsity Matches against Cambridge. His friend, Tom Hampson, placed behind Wentworth on both occasions, but later went on to win gold in the 800m at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics in world record time.