Who is awarded a Blue?
Men and women may be awarded a Full Blue (or simply a Blue), Half-Blue or Second Team Colours for competing at the highest level of university sport, which must include being in a Varsity Match or Race against the University of Oxford.
A Full Blue is the highest honour that may be bestowed on a Cambridge sportsman or woman. In general, the Full Blue standard is approximately that of being successful at a national level of student competition, and the Half-Blue standard is that of being successful at county or regional level.
The criteria for awarding blues are different for men and women. Awards are made the discretion of the men’s and women’s Blues Committees. The Men’s Blues Committee is formed from one representative of each of the Full Blue sports, and the women’s from one representative of each of the Full Blue and Half-Blue sports. Each committee meets frequently to discuss issues relating to Cambridge sport.
The awarding of a Full Blue often requires a person to fulfil a number of requirements in the same academic year, particularly in sports with Discretionary Full Blue status. In some sports with Full Blue status, the Varsity Match second team is awarded Second Team Colours. Each sport has specific criteria for each award.
The following table list sports by Blue status:
|Association football, boxing, cricket, field hockey, golf, lawn tennis, rowing, rugby union, squash|
|Full Blue (some) / Half-Blue (rest) *|
|Athletics, basketball, cross country running, rugby league, swimming, ice hockey|
|Discretionary Full Blue|
|Badminton, canoeing, cycling, dancesport, fencing, gymnastics, judo, powerlifting, ice hockey, karate, lacrosse (Oxford), modern pentathlon, orienteering, rifle shooting (small-bore and full-bore), sailing, skiing, water polo, real tennis|
|Archery, Australian rules football, Eton and Rugby fives, ice hockey, chess, kickboxing, korfball, lacrosse, lightweight rowing, mountain biking, pistol shooting, polo, rackets, association croquet, clay pigeon shooting, riding, rifle shooting (small-bore and full-bore), table tennis, volleyball, windsurfing, yachting|
|Gaelic football, American football|
* Most players in these sports are granted a Full Blue, others are granted a Half-Blue depending on their appearances in first or second team.
Christopher Thorne (St Catharine’s, 1955-61) and Secretary, Blues Committee wrote an historical note in 1996 concerning the awarding of Blues and Half Blues entitled Blues and the Blues Committee. It can be downloaded here as a three page PDF.
Origins of the colour blue
In the 2011 Easter edition of The Hawk (see here, on second page) a brief report was published entitled Rejoice! You might have been awarded a Pink! That article was a considerably abbreviated version of a paper researched and published jointly by Frank Grenfell (Trinity, 1962-65), former River Master of Eton College, and Dr John Marks (Girton, 1947-50) former Honorary Treasurer of CUBC, a Director of The Hawks’ Company Ltd, and a Trustee of The Hawks’ Trust.
Deeply researched, and painstakingly assembled, the paper sheds new light on a story that has, over time, attained the stature of myth. As the paper points out we shall probably never know exactly what happened, but as far as it is possible to know, this paper must be the definitive version.