The Oxford University team which won this year’s University Challenge has been disqualified after fielding an ineligible contestant.

The team – which beat Manchester 275 to 190 in the quiz show’s grand final – was stripped of the title by the BBC after it emerged that team member Sam Kay was ineligible to take part, because he had already graduated.

But Manchester contestant Henry Pertinez, 27, said their rivals ‘beat us fair and square’ and that his team had been awarded the series title ‘on a technicality’. “It’s a hollow victory,” he added.

More than 5.3 million viewers, a record audience, tuned in to see last week’s final, which featured Corpus Christi’s brainbox contestant Gail Trimble.

The 26-year-old Latin scholar scored two-thirds of her team’s 1,200 points before the final and has been described as the ‘best contestant ever’.

Manchester’s team captain, Phd student Matthew Yeo, 25, said of the disqualification: “We abide by the decision of the judges. We are obviously saddened by the whole experience of the last 48 hours.

“This is certainly not how we wanted to be awarded the trophy and to be crowned champions of University Challenge.

“We feel not only that this has detracted from the award, but also detracted from the enormous fun of being on University Challenge.”

Matthew added that he and the team wanted to send their ‘best wishes’ to all of the Corpus Christi team at an ‘undeniably difficult time for them’.

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