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St John's College Cambridge has won University Challenge for the first time


By Ben Comber


The team in the College hall with reserve team member Aneesh Aggarwal. Picture: Jean-Luc Benazet
The team in the College hall with reserve team member Aneesh Aggarwal. Picture: Jean-Luc Benazet

The victory came after defeating Merton College Oxford 140-100.

Watching the University Challenge final at St Johns College, Cambridge, on 23 April 2018. Picture: Jean-Luc Benazet
Watching the University Challenge final at St Johns College, Cambridge, on 23 April 2018. Picture: Jean-Luc Benazet

A “watch party” gathered in St John’s College last night to see its University Challenge team take the title for the first time.

Students James Devine-Stoneman, Rosie McKeown, Matt Hazell and John-Clark Levin won without ever having lost a round.

Team captain James Devine-Stoneman said: “Not knowing how strong the competition would be, we said that as long as we didn’t get knocked out in the first round we’d be happy, and that reaching the quarter finals would be a great achievement.

“I remember remarking that in the worst case scenario, I’ll have become Eric Monkman’s successor, which is quite an honour already.”

Watching the University Challenge final at St Johns College, Cambridge, on 23 April 2018. Picture: Jean-Luc Benazet
Watching the University Challenge final at St Johns College, Cambridge, on 23 April 2018. Picture: Jean-Luc Benazet

Team member Rosie McKeown said: “It’s particularly special for my dad as I’ve watched University Challenge with him since I was about 11 and it’s been my dream to appear on the show since then - a dream which has now come true.”

She said she hopes that winning the competition will set good precedents for St John’s and for future female competitors.

“I’m so proud to have been part of the first St John’s team to win University Challenge,” she said, “I hope that our victory will encourage more women at all universities to try out for the show. There’s also plenty of room on the trophy for our college name to be engraved a few more times.”

Matt Hazell also grew up with University Challenge-loving parents.

“They have been hosting watch parties at their house, so a fair few family friends have been roped in to watching as well,” he said.

“Merton are an extremely strong team so I think everyone was a bit cautious.”

“They are a very well balanced team, are lighting quick on the buzzer, and they had a better record than us going into the final.”

The Master of St John’s College, Professor Chris Dobson, was particularly pleased with the final result. “I am absolutely thrilled that St John’s has been victorious in this year’s University Challenge, and I could not be more proud of the members of the team who have shown not just exceptional brilliance but also tremendous character at all times,” he said.



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