There is a wide range of sport on offer at Abingdon; over 35 different choices at the last count.
Our philosophy is to support those who aspire to compete at the highest level, whilst offering opportunity and encouragement to those students who are simply wanting to enjoy their sport and physical activity.
The debate, which invariably ensues regarding compulsion versus choice, is an inevitable one. Sport at Abingdon is a compulsory part of the curriculum. We believe that during their time here, the majority of our boys will find a physical activity, which not only challenges them, but also stimulates a lifelong interest. We do however operate an options system, which allows pupils to opt for the sport of their choice. Please refer to our Policy on Boys' Sporting Commitments for more detail.
The School is proud of its sporting history and of our aim to provide more opportunity to more pupils. A dedicated cohort of staff enthuses boys to achieve their individual potential and nurture talent. External coaches with specialist skills complement the team, offering additional support and expertise.
By browsing through the sections below, you can see the wealth of sporting opportunities available.
In addition to the term time sporting activities we also offer sports coaching camps during the school holidays.
Peter Bignell, Director of Sport and PE
The aim of the Athletics Club is to produce excellent athletes, providing an opportunity for all those with an interest to learn and to develop new skills. The club achieves this through a structured programme of coaching by a committed staff team and through regular competition.
Competition takes place in the summer term against a large number of schools, at a local, regional and national level.
Coaching is provided in the full range of events on the track and field.
Training takes place at Tilsley Park with superb athletic facilities including an eight lane, floodlit track with steeplechase, pole vault, high jump and long jump facilities, a brand new throws area for javelin, shot put and discus as well as a 300 seat covered grandstand.
Middle and Upper School Badminton operates within the sports options programme. Both match players and learners are accepted, although often there is a trial because more boys opt than we have space for. Our record against other schools is enviable.
We are looking to build on our existing squad for the future so any aspiring Kobe Bryants or Michael Jordans are welcome. Spaces are limited to squad players only although if you are a keen basketball player and would like to trial for the squad do come along to practice.
Boat Club (Rowing)
The Boat Club has been in existence at Abingdon School for 184 years and goes from strength to strength and never has it been more successful. Boys can row from the 3rd to 5th year, in the Lent and Summer terms, and all three terms by invitation in 6th form. Boys are expected to commit themselves for both terms since most of the regattas are in the summer. We have around 170 boys in the Club. Training takes place both in the school gym and at the Boathouse, on Wilsham Road - about a mile from the School. In the Lent term there would be 2/3 rowing sessions and 2 gym sessions per week. Boys are expected to participate on Saturdays.
We have a number of aims for the Club, at different levels. The 3rd year (J14) is an introductory year where we try to give everybody a fair chance to improve and to see if they like it. We compete in a number of ‘friendlies’ against other schools and later on in the year we compete at some regattas, including The National Schools Championships. The next few years through J15 and J16 are spent developing 1st and 2nd VIIIs, which will compete at external regattas and National Schools championships. The 1st VIII competes at Henley Royal Regatta. The School also participates in the Junior International scheme and boys have represented Great Britain every year since 1992.
We try to accommodate all abilities and levels of commitment to foster enjoyment of a great team sport. We have an excellent timber boathouse, initiated and driven by parental support. We hope to maintain, and build on, our reputation as one of the most successful school boat clubs in the UK. There is a very active parents/friends supporters club, FASBC.
Subs are paid termly to cover the cost of race fees, repairs to equipment and upkeep of the coaching launches. Subs are currently charged per term, as follows: J14 - £45; J15 - £50; J16/Open - £55. In addition there is an annual £28 affiliation fee for British Rowing.
The Canoe Club aims to introduce boys to various paddlesports and currently allows them to specialise in whitewater kayaking, open canoeing and racing. Although most paddlesport sessions take place from the boathouse on the River Thames we also run sessions in the school swimming pool where we can develop key skills, such as rolling, or play canoe polo. We are affiliated to the British Canoe Union and boys can obtain various qualifications during training sessions.
Boys can also complete their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions at all levels in open canoes. In the past this has involved expeditions to various parts of the UK as well as overseas expeditions.
Following its re-introduction the Club has gone from strength to strength. Boys from throughout the school tackle the application of the tactics of chess and the physics of snooker. Senior boys organise the external fixtures combining the social and competitive elements of the game.
Cross-country running is open to all. Training assumes a motivation for good health, commitment to the values and competition schedule of the club. Competition takes place in both Michaelmas and Lent terms in many prestigious and long standing events.
We start our training in September with very short distances and build gradually and carefully to longer distances of 20k. The season ends in March. Training is a mixture of long slow distances, threshold and speed workouts as well as the introduction of strength and conditioning sessions to help avoid injury.
Runs take in most of rural Oxfordshire and beyond. Past pupils have captained their own club at University and some have competed on the international stage. One of the aims of the club is to build a life-long affinity for running and competition.
Fencing is available throughout the year. All year groups are welcome to come and try this Olympic sport, from beginners to experienced fencers. Full coaching will be given and the School provides fencing kit and weapons for students. A minimum commitment of one session per week for one full term is required, although in practice many boys enjoy doing much more fencing than this. Matches are arranged with other schools throughout the calendar year, and keen fencers from our club have competed in and won many national and international competitions in the recent past. There has never a better time to try this popular Olympic sport. En garde!
The Football Club is now well established at Abingdon, with over 19 teams representing the School. The club plays regular fixtures during the Lent term against St John's Leatherhead , Berkhamsted, St Edward’s Oxford, Bedford Modern, Oratory and Radley in addition to other local schools. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd XI, U15A and U14 A all compete in the Thames Valley League that comprises of schools in the Oxfordshire and Berkshire area. Players have also gone on to represent the ISFA side, as well as county and academy squads.
A recent addition to the Abingdon School Football Club is the Futsal Club. This form of the game, originating in South America, aids the developments of the player’s close control, dribbling and game awareness, utilising a smaller weighted ball whilst playing in 5-a-side environment.
The golf team meets for coaching from a PGA professional at Drayton Golf Club. The team consists of players with, or aspiring to have, single-figure handicaps. During these sessions we work on all aspects of the game including course management, shot shaping and the short game, and there is the opportunity to computer-analyse players' swings.
The Golf team plays in competitions including the Oxfordshire county championships and the Independent Schools’ Golf Association knock-out, as well as various friendly fixtures against other school sides. There is a House Golf competition in the summer term.
There are also opportunities for a broader range of players to play and to receive expert coaching. Golf lessons take place as a group on the driving range, but there are opportunities for specialised putting practice as well as visits to the ‘par 3’ course (weather permitting). Places are limited, and are allocated term by term, depending on boys’ sports options.
Hockey is a major sport in the Lent term. The Hockey Club fields teams throughout the age groups, with every team from U14D to 1st XI competing in the Independent Schools Hockey League. Abingdon competes against Radley, Bradfield, Wellington, Cheltenham, Marlborough, Eton and St Edward’s and Abingdon teams will play against all the seven other schools over the course of the season. All ISHL results are uploaded here.
The Hockey Club has enjoyed a great deal of success in recent years, with a large number of boys representing the county and regional squads and some selected to play at a national level.
Judo is a popular activity which takes place during regular weekly sessions; these are taken by a qualified external coach. Boys are instructed in the various principles and techniques and there are opportunities for sparring in a competitive context.
Karate is an excellent way to improve fitness, co-ordination, stability and suppleness – skills useful in other sports. It also has the added benefits of teaching self-defence, discipline and thus increases self-confidence. Sessions are timed to allow you to participate in another sport as well. No experience is necessary. Gradings are up to four times a year; a Black belt takes a number of years to achieve, based on aptitude, application and consistency over time.
Our karate coach Sensei Patience Kakatie is looking forward to sharing some of the secrets of her success with our pupils.
It is recognised that there is growing evidence to suggest that a strong core and improved flexibility is key to sporting success. The classes focus on delivering a programme which seeks to improve pupils' core strength in order to assist in keeping them injury free and stronger through their core.
We pride ourselves on offering enough rugby teams per age group to boys of all ability levels. We play competitive fixtures each weekend throughout the Michaelmas term.
Some of the schools on our circuit include: Radley College, Sherborne, Eton College, Cranleigh School and Bedford School. Abingdon School also enters into the National Natwest Cup competition at both U18 and U15 age groups.
Being part of the Rugby Club enables boys to experience various trips and tours. Our Lower School has a parent / son day to Twickenham in November to watch an England international, organised by our parent group Touchliners. The Middle School have an opportunity to go to Twickenham Stadium to watch the Varsity Match each year. Our U14s go on tour every October half term. Our U15s enter the Langley School national 15-a-side festival each year. Our Seniors tour internationally every two years most recently in 2017 to Japan and in 2019 Chile and Argentina.
All parents are encouraged to join our Abingdon School 'Touchliners'. This parental committee support our rugby club programme through organising major events throughout the year that help support and add to the provision offered to all boys in the club.
Rugby Sevens is run as a Lent term Other Half activity from U12 to U16 age groups. At Sixth Form pupils can select Rugby Sevens as their core sport as well as in Wednesday Other Half sessions.
The objective of Rugby Sevens is to offer all pupils an opportunity to further develop their individual rugby skills through regular training sessions and competing in nationally recognised competitions. It is a true development pathway for our pupils with emphasis in training on core skill development combined with tactical decision-making and growing their understanding of Rugby Sevens. The training and competition also helps to assist any elite players in their preparation and participation for county, academy or national representation.
We mainly sail at Farmoor Reservoir, with beginners using boats owned by the Oxford Sail Training Trust and more advanced sailors making use of our extensive school fleet, which includes eight Standard Lasers, four RS500s, two 29ers and two SB20 keelboats.
Opportunities for sailors at Abingdon are varied and include learning to sail from scratch, developing racing skills in single handed, double handed and multi-crew boats and working towards RYA qualifications.
Abingdon’s sailing club has an active DofE program with expeditions offered under sail at Bronze, Silver and Gold Level. As an RYA recognised training centre we supplement the yachting side by offering and delivering RYA theory courses up to and including yachtmaster theory as well as the Diesel Engine course and RYA VHF radio course.
Highlights for the sailing club over the past few years include competing at Cowes week, competing in the SB20 World Championships and students passing their Day Skipper, Dinghy Instructor and Yachtmaster Qualifications (run in association with partner organisations).
Pupils may sign up for shooting at the start of the year and are expected to commit themselves to one afternoon weekly. No experience is necessary since training is provided. Those who wear glasses are at no disadvantage (some of our best shots do). There is a trophy for the best beginner. Once at a reasonable standard, pupils are formed into teams and entered for postal competitions against other schools. We now have the opportunity to shoot in international matches against European schools. There is also an opportunity to participate in our annual exchange with the Stade team in Germany during the Easter holidays.
Lower School boys may sign up for the eight-week Air Rifle Youth Proficiency Scheme. Successful completion of this course allows Lower School boys to move on to .22 rifle shooting.
Recently, members of the Rifle Club have won County titles, and some have taken part in GB development training.
The superb courts in the sports centre provide a focus for home matches and training. We have a highly promising squad of talented players throughout the School, trained by a Squash England coach.
Squash is available as a sports option to selected squad players in the 3rd Year and above, but other boys will have opportunities to play at various times as an activity. Senior boys and boarders are also able to play in their free time when the courts are not being used.
We had successful fixtures last year against Radley, St Edward’s and Stowe, and we will be selecting teams for more matches this year.
Our 8 lane 25m swimming pool provides the ideal environment to develop swimming technique throughout the year. The squad train at allocated times within the sessions above and cover up to 10000m a week, with the possibility of dry land training during the Wednesday session. The majority of the galas are held in the Lent term, but we also enter swimmers for the English Schools National Championships in both the individual and relay events. It is recommended that the serious swimmers join the local club which uses the Abingdon School pool. For those that wish to swim recreationally there is space to swim within the allocated sessions and a program to improve fitness will be provided.
See the School Swimming Records.
An opportunity for players of all abilities, but numbers are limited to about 20, so places are based on a first-come-first-served basis. At the top end the standard is very high and this year we aim to further develop our limited fixture list. To qualify for this sport you must be prepared to play every week.
The Tennis Club runs teams across the age groups, with coaching sessions and matches being held on the newly re-surfaced school courts, the MUSA, the clay courts at the Vale of White Horse and at Abingdon Lawn Tennis Club. Each age group has three coaching sessions per week with the coaching staff and all teams compete in inter school matches on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The Tennis Club takes part in the Independent Schools League, Oxfordshire Independent Schools Competition, the Aegon Cup and the Independent Schools Tennis Association Tournaments held at Eton at the end of the summer term. There have been a number of unbeaten teams over the last few years and many players go on to gain county and even National honours.
The Tennis Club runs internal box leagues and ladder competitions, with every match being played as a British Tennis rating match.
All players in the club are eligible to sign up for a free British Tennis Membership, offering them a rating, free entry to the Wimbledon ticket ballot and other LTA membership offers.
Touch Rugby is a fast paced and energetic game that removes the physical nature of the 15-a-side game, focusing on skills and game awareness. Four small sided games are played on Upper Field outside the front of Big School each team being led by an older boy from either the U16A XV or one of the Senior XVs. With between seven and ten on a team there is much more time on the ball and the removal of the contact allows a more level playing field. It provides an excellent opportunity for boys of all years to mix and for younger boys to learn vital skills from those older than themselves.
Volleyball is played on outside courts during the Summer Term. Students are encouraged to practice their serve, volley, set, dig, block and smash with games played either 2 or 6 per side.
Water Polo is a fast-paced and physically demanding hybrid of swimming, basketball and rugby. The boys train together on Fridays. The teams compete against Eton and Stowe (for example) and often as part of a ‘double-bill’ with swimming competitions. Matches and training with the Oxford University Men’s team will take place on an ad hoc basis. New players are always welcome to come along for a trial, especially boys in the 1st and 4th Years. No previous experience is necessary but being a confident swimmer is essential.
Yoga for Mindfulness and Wellbeing
Come and join a very new and exciting addition to the OH programme focused on your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Mindfulness is all about being in the present to give you “brain space” and time to get away from and take control of the stresses and strains of everyday life. With practice it can also help you to cope with challenges to your health and wellbeing in a positive, active way allowing you to take back control in the face of stress or conflict.
Yoga teaches this by focusing your mind and body on the practice itself, holding poses, recognising the physical stresses and strains on the body as you strengthen and increase flexibility along the way too. Through gentle yoga poses and relaxation you can explore threads of practice to focus your mind and learn a new way to escape from harmful, damaging stresses and emotions. We will then use mindfulness techniques to bring these skills into practice for coping with everyday situations.
The Other Half activity will look at four main yoga focus threads throughout the term:
- The Breath
- The Poses/asanas
- The Transition between Poses/asanas
- The whole Yoga process, breath, postures and transition…Yoga flow