Winchester College Football

Our Game

31st January 2023
BY Dr Mark Romans, Master in Charge of Winchester College Football

On Saturday 4 February, the school will gather to watch XVs - the biggest game of the Winchester College Football season - which sees Commoners and OTH battle to lift the 'Pearl Pot' trophy.

Our Game

Winchester Football is called “Our Game” by the pupils as it very much belongs to them. They are the guardians of the rules and conventions which develop from one generation to the next. As one of the captains remarks in the film below, it is an inclusive game and that is one of its key strengths. For many of the pupils playing, it is the most significant sporting occasion they will have taken part in, and one of the most important moments of their Winchester lives.

It is also a test of character: the equipment gets in the way; some penalties are seen by the referees and some are not; and the conditions have a definite bearing on proceedings. It teaches them that sometimes in life, you just have to get on with things! Generally, the side that wants to win the most, will.



A “hot” is the Winchester name for a scrum and these occur each time there is a penalty or when the ball is kicked out. You will hear the crowd shouting “red hot” or “brown hot” to urge their respective side on. Players have the option to have a “hot on ropes,” which re-starts the game in the space between the netting and the rope. The netting is called the “canvas” but the pitch is also called “the canvas" and the boys training for XVs are called a “canvas”...

The object of the game is to get the ball over the line (called “worms”) at the end of the pitch: it can be carried over, as in rugby (rarely); pushed over in the hot; or most frequently, kicked over. If it goes over cleanly, it is a goal and scores three points. If it touches a player or the equipment, it goes for a “behind” which scores one point, but the attacking team get a chance to convert to score an additional two points.

The prized Pearl Pot

The teams are competing for the “Pearl Pot”, a trophy which was given by the pupils, organised by Helen Summerfield, in memory of my wife Pearl, who died in 2019. Obviously, that gesture means the world to me. Winning means the world to them. The Commoners and OTH have each lifted the trophy twice so there is all to play for.

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