This coming year will see a transition in student sport. The merger of BUSA and UCS [University & College Sport] will see a joined up approach from Athletic Unions and Sports Departments in a new organisation to be called British Universities and Colleges Sport, or BUCS.
Whereas BUSA cater for university sport, UCS traditionally focus on elite and grassroots sport, and so the new organisation will see greater unity for university sport and the opportunity for institutions such as York to develop their sporting programme. Not only will the BUSA competition be replaced with BUCS, but the nature of the competition will also see a shift to a more regionalised sports programme.
BUSA have designed a league format, after requests from institutions to provide a full two terms of sport for the winter league sports, but with the awareness of the financial implications and the pressures placed on Athletic Unions.
Below the highest level, the belief is that students are spending too much time and money competing in national competitions. The principle of a two tier sport has been introduced which means that for Tiers 2 and below, the knockouts will be regionalised.
This means that there will be no more lengthy coach journeys to knockout games in places like Aberdeen or Cardiff. It also signals the arrival of a longer season for all teams.
Whereas at present the BUSA season ends in January, and only the best performing teams progress to knockouts, the proposed changes will integrate a cup programme similar to the way the FA cup is integrated into the Football League.
It has been proposed that the National knockout competitions be replaced with a five Conference Shield Knockout based on regions. This gives all teams the opportunity to have an extra seven fixtures throughout the term, and regardless of their success in the knockout competition the season will continue through until March.
The league structure will remain unchanged with the majority of leagues of six teams competing against each other home and away. The format for promotion and relegation will remain largely unchanged.
This year has been a hugely successful year for York sport; Roses and Varsity victory and a top 40 finish in the BUSA table (last year we finished 52nd). I hope York next year continues to develop a sporting reputation as good as its academic one.