The November 2016 St Paul’s College newsletter included big news. The all-male residential college will be undergoing significant renovations to create a new graduate house and a third quadrangle. St Paul’s is currently in the process of raising the required $60 million. The most important addition, however, will be a “championship-sized croquet lawn”. Yes, you read that correctly. Championship-sized.
Honi contacted several St Paul’s students to ask them how their cohort was reacting to the news. For some reason, they weren’t very keen to talk to Honi. Did they think this innocent publication would twist their words to push the narrow-minded Honi agenda just as a croquet player deftly flicks his wrist to push the ball through a narrow hoop? Were these students trying to hide something? Had they been sworn to secrecy to gain some sort of competitive croquet edge?
Honi’s investigations suggested their silence was a result of the latter two and certainly not the first.
What could they have been hiding? With the help of Google Maps and Photoshop, Honi’s technical department superimposed a satellite image of the University of Sydney over the development plans provided in the newsletter. The image we used was an artistic impression that didn’t include a scale, legend, or any real details whatsoever but that’s no reason why it shouldn’t be considered the official blueprint.
The truth was shockingly clear. The planned croquet lawn was a mere 30.0 metres by 24.38 metres.
For the few that aren’t aware, a genuine championship-sized croquet lawn is 35 yards (32 metres) by 28 yards (26.6 metres). The Paul’s lawn will therefore provide nearly 120 square metres less croquet-playing space than promised. The college will be short-changing its students.
But why then had the St Paul’s students been sworn to secrecy? There had to be more. Who were they keeping information from? The answer was hidden in the past.
The University of Sydney Croquet Club formed in 1902. It lasted for one resounding year before folding. During that time, Women’s College was the most dominant team. That’s right, St Paul’s sister college wiped the (delicately maintained grass) floor with them.
Perhaps then, this new lawn is to serve as a training facility to allow the college to snatch back the croquet crown. That would explain why the St Paul’s students had refused to talk to Honi. They couldn’t let wind of their plan reach the halls of Women’s College.
“We are not really building Croquet Lawns as a big thing – that’s more of an incidental name,” said St Paul’s Warden Ivan Head when contacted for more information. “We also considered a race track for miniature camels from the Innovation Nation Clone Enterprise but rejected that.” The latter comment may have been in jest but, as Honi does not possess a sense of humour, we were unable to tell before this article was published.
Will St Paul’s get their long-awaited vengeance? Will Women’s College remain reigning champions? Watch this (slightly smaller than championship-sized) space.