The Fencing Club is held on Wednesday afternoons from 3.25pm to 5.00pm in the gym.  Boys from any year group are welcome to attend.  The club is coached by Katie Arup who is a past Olympian from the British Olympic Fencing Team.  Many fencers compete in the N.I. Junior Foil Series which consists of 5 rounds held over the months from November to April.  This year, in the Under 12 age category Matthew McKay finished in 1st place overall and therefore is the Under 12 NI Junior Foil Series Champion.  In the Under 14 age category Aneurin Duffin- Murray also finished in 1st place and so is the Under 14 NI Junior Foil Series Champion.  In the Under 16 age category Daragh Patterson finished in 3rd place and Theo Millar finished in 1st place, meaning that he is the Under 16 NI Junior Foil Series Champion.  Matthew, Aneurin, Daragh, Theo and Paul Verdon all qualified for the British Youth Championships which were held in Sheffield in May.  Fencers in Year 9 and above can enter the Public Schools Fencing Championships which are held each year at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre in London.

Trip to London to compete in PSFC

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We arrived in London on the Tuesday 14th March 2017 with the afternoon free to spend some time enjoying the big city. Given the choice of some of the World’s best museums, sightseeing or shopping, there was no hesitation, the boys unanimously opted to shop! We managed a ride on a London red bus around Parliament Square and along Pall Mall to Oxford Circus, where the boys got busy shopping at Hamley’s Toy Store, M&M’s World and the Lego Store. A short walk through Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square and it was time to get back onto the underground to find the nearest Nando’s for a team dinner before going back to the hotel to prepare for the early start and big competition the following morning.

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The Championships

Junior Boys

The Junior boys event had 106 starters from schools all over the UK, including England, Wales, Jersey, Guernsey, and NI. The first round saw Ross Chambers (Yr11) and James Kavanagh-Cranston (Yr12) narrowly miss out on promotion through to the next round. They both gave it their best shot and came close to winning a fight each. Despite his disappointment, James spent the rest of the day productively taking some great photos of his team mates which you can see in this report.

In round 2, there were 85 boys remaining. The RBAI fencers picked up the pace bringing their win totals up. Particularly good scores were achieved by Michael Thompson (Yr12) who won 8/9 fights, and to Rowan Luney and Matthew McKay, (Yr11) who both won 7/8 fights. All 6 boys were promoted through to the next Direct Elimination (DE) stage of 78 fencers, with all but Callum Watson getting a by through to the last 64. Callum had to fight to get through and despite a long bout, he lost this fight of 15 hits and was placed in 65th place.

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(Nkosi scoring a hit. Photograph by James Kavanagh-Cranston yr12)


In the last 64 DE round, Nkosi,Khumalo and Michael Thompson (Yr12), and Noah Brown (Yr11) were all unfortunately eliminated. Nkosis approach was quiet and steady, winning 4/8 fights in the rounds. He was ranked just outside the top half in the DE fight offs, hence his last 64 draw was against a better ranked fencer who proved too hard to beat. Michael had fenced very well in the 1st two rounds, securing 13th seed but was not able to keep up his form and lost out to the much lower ranked 52nd seed. Noah had had a slow start to the day, just scraping through the 1st round. Although he picked it up a bit in the second round, it was not enough to improve his already low ranking, which meant a tough draw in the last 64 against the eventual Championships winner, Alessandro Gill from Highgate School. Rowan Luney and Matthew McKay (Yr11) both fenced superbly with strength, determination and a keen approach. Rowan beat a fencer from Charterhouse College 15/11 and Matthew won his fight convincingly15/6 to a fencer from Abingdon School.

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(Rowan scoring a hit. Photograph by James Kavanagh-Cranston yr12)

In the next round - the last 32, Rowan was drawn against a very tall fencer from Whitgift School with a long reach and a lightening quick attack. Rowan was 7/0 down before he worked out how to fence such an opponent. After the time break, Rowan did get the measure of him and fought back but eventually lost 15/8. Given that Rowan still has another year in this age group, his finishing position of 20th out of 106 was a good result. Well done. Matthew again fenced superbly in this round, beating the fencer from St Benedicts who had just knocked Nkosi out in the previous round 15/6, which took him up into the last 16 fencers.

Here he came up against Brijeshwar Gautam from City of London who was just that bit faster and more confidant than Matthew on the piste. Despite his great determination to never give up and fighting on to the last hit, Matthew was knocked out 15/4 and finished in 14th place. Like Rowan, Matthew is a year young for this age group and so with his last 16 result this year, shows huge potential to possibly medal next year. Matthew is part of the RBAI Talented Athlete Programme and has embraced the 2 weight training sessions set out by the P.E staff on top of the 4 weekly fencing sessions he already commits to. This consistent hard work and dedication to improve his game is paying off. Congratulations.

Matthew McKay  14th

Rowan Luney      20th

Michael Thompson  33rd

Nkosi Khumalo    49th

Noah Browne       58th

Callum Watson    65th

James Kavanagh-Cranston   92nd

Ross Chambers    96th

Below L-R: Michael; James; Noah. Photographs by James Kavanagh-Cranston yr12

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(Michael; James; Noah. Photographs by James Kavanagh-Cranston yr12)

Mount Hayes Boys

In the first round there were 105 starters. From RBAI we had 4 yr9 boys competing for the first time. Donal O’Brian, Kai Cheuk, Max Moore and Peter Wallace. Donal fought hard nearly winning a couple of matches but was just not focused enough to get through to the 2nd round this year. He was placed 89th. Max fenced with great application in the 1st round winning 3/4 and went through to round 2 where he managed another victory getting a score of 1/4. Unfortunately this was not enough to get through this round however and he was eliminated and finished in 67th place. Kai got through the first round with 2 victories and went on to battle his way through the 2nd round into the direct elimination with just one victory and a good indicator score. He was seeded 57th but lost to a higher seeded left handed fencer from Eltham College. Peter progressed steadily, fencing well to get through both rounds with 6/8 victories and was seeded 38th. However despite giving everything he had and showing great concentration, the Highgate fencer was just better than him on the day. But to finish in the top half of his first major event showed great courage. All 4 boys gained vital experience from entering such a big competition and enjoyed chatting to the other competitors they met and supporting their older team mates.

Peter Wallace       39th

Kai Cheuk             57th

Max Moore          67th

Donal O’Brian      89th

Thanks should go to Miss Elliott, our teacher-in-charge and Katie Arup our fencing coach for organising another successful trip.

Although there is no epeéfencing at RBAI, Michael Thompson (Yr12) travelled with his mother to enter the epeéevent the day before the foil event. A sport he practices outside of school. Again he competed very well in the 2 rounds, and was ranked 13th. He won his last 64 direct elimination fight 15/11 but was defeated in the last 32 by Mark Evgenev from Westminster School to finish 19th overall. With epeébeing his preferred weapon, we were all pleased to hear that he had fenced well and achieved a good result. Well done Michael.

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Fencing Results

Last weekend in the Senior Irish National championships in Dublin, Matthew McKay, Yr11 made the last 8 (quarter-finals). After a tough pool, he clawed back to win 2 DE fights against higher seeded and older fencers. A great result given that this was one of his first senior events. And this weekend, Theo Millar, Yr14, won a bronze medal in the Senior Derry Open event. Again, a good solid result.

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Matthew McKay, Year 11

Fencing results: NI Junior Foil Series

Fencing results from last weekend’s NI Junior Foil Series held at Grosvenor Grammar School in Belfast.

Particular merit goes to Max Moore who won a Bronze Medal in the Under 14 event. Max easily won his first Direct Elimination fight against an experienced fencer from Rathmore, and then narrowly lost to a fencer from Pembroke, Dublin in the semi-finals. This was Max’s first medal placing. Congratulations.

In the Under 16 event, Nkosi Kasathi Khumalo also fenced well to reach the semi-finals, also gaining a Bronze Medal. Kasathi drew his experience to beat a fencer from Carrickfergus in his first Direct Elimination fight, and then lost to a fencer from Newcastle High School.

The next Northern Ireland Junior Foil Competition will be held at RBAI in December.

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 Max Moore with the Bronze Medal he won in the Under 14 event

Fencing: Northern Ireland Junior Foil Championships

This weekend saw the final round of the NI Junior Foil Series. In the Under 12 event, Will Nesbitt from year 8 was placed a very creditable 6th. This was great considering he has not competed in many events to date. RBAI fencer Matthew McKay won Silver in the Under 14 event with Rowan Luney and Noah Brown both taking the Bronze medal place. In the Under 16, Michael Thompson took the Bronze medal. Now that the NI Junior Foil Season for 2015/16 has come to an end, the final season’s ranking winners were announced. RBAI fencers that placed in the top 10 of their age group were as follows:

Under 16 - 4th, Michael Thompson; 6th, David Stewart; 7th, Nkosinathi Khumal.

Under 14 - 3rd, Matthew McKay; 4th, Noah Brown; 5th Rowan Luney.

Under 12 - 7th, Kai Cheuk; 10th, Max Moore. Congratulations to them all for a successful season.


Matthew McKay, Rowan Luney and Noah Brown(year 10) with their medals from this weekend’s NIJFS event held at the Lisburn Racquets Club

Fencing: British Youth Championships

The 2016 British Youth Championships was held in Sheffield at the beginning of May and RBAI Fencing Club were delighted to have 5 fencers qualifying to take part.

In the U16 events, Michael Thompson fenced in both the Foil and Epeé events. In the foil, he was disappointed to finish 44th out of 62 entries. But in the Epeé, he achieved a superb result by winning his DE to get through to the L16 and being placed 11th out of 52. 
In the Under 14 Foil event, RBAI had Matthew McKay, Noah Brown and Rowan Luney all qualifying to compete. However, this was not their weekend and faced with a tough 82 strong entry, they finished 48th, 52nd and 62nd respectively.


Rowan Luney (Year 10) fencing at the British Youth Championships