Nouse offers the complete lowdown on the hectic Saturday of Roses.
ROWING (Races start at 10.00), River Ouse
Although their new boat, purchased with a contribution from the York Alumni Fund, remains docked in Germany, the Boat Club enter Roses optimistically following a hugely encouraging season. Since rowing was the original contest between York and Lancaster back in 1965, the squad are historically conscious, and the overall 19-18 score in Lancaster’s favour, including the last two years, is regarded almost as an affront.
The men’s firsts VIII, which is likely to feature Will Lawrence, Ben Coverdale, Jack Savage, Dan Steele, Dane Moore, Edd Davenport, John Underwood and James Coldwell, recently beat Lancaster’s VIII over 5km at the BUCS Head of the River event in Chester. However, the Roses course, down on the River Ouse, is only 1km, a mere sprint in comparison.
Assessing the club’s chances of collecting the 20 points on offer, Club President Hugh Pryce said: “The guys have been training really hard to even things up again [at 19-19]. Lancaster deserve to be favourites having won the last two boat races, but the guys won’t mind being underdogs. They’ll be training on the course for the week running up to the event, which should help our chances on the day.”
The men’s VIII set off at 10.40am, but represents only a small part of a busy morning’s rowing, with races starting at 10.00, so it’s best to stake out a good vantage point early on Lendall Bridge. Indeed, many of the VIII crew will have already competed once, in the senior and novice IV’s, which again promise to be close contests.
For the female crews, revenge is also at the forefront of pre-race thoughts, following Lancaster’s comfortable victories last year. To intensify matters even further, allegations abounded of Lancastrian gamesmanship – two senior squad members participated in the senior, novice and beginner’s races – which have left a sour taste on this side of the Pennines. However, controversy aside, York’s crews appreciate the significance of home advantage, and have been intensively preparing off the back of a hugely encouraging season.
The senior VIII finished second at the BUCS Head of the River event in Chester, only for Lancaster to finish first! However, the senior IV remains practically invincible this year and the novice crews have consistently beaten the Red Rose, meaning confidence is high.
Assessing York’s chances, senior VIII and IV rower Raessa Chowdhury told Nouse: “Head racing and sprint racing [i.e. the 1km Roses course] are incredibly different and York women have traditionally been more successful at Head races. However, having come second to Lancaster at the North of England Head and from last year’s performance, we fell like we have some payback in order and we more than a good chance of getting points in all the women’s events this year. Rowing is what started the Roses event, as it tried to mimic the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race and bring that up to the North. So we’re looking forward to plenty of support and a good day of racing, hopefully with multiple wins for the Boat Club.”
Women’s Crew Lists: Senior VIII: Alix Odgers, Raessa Chowdhury, Charlotte MacDonald, Rebecca Melville, Alex Mahan, Hannah Mason, Alex Hassall, Sophie Mottram
Senior IV: Alix Odgers, Sophie Mottram, Alex Mahan, Raessa Chowdhury
Novice VIII: Charlotte MacDonald, Joanne Rea, Alex Hassall, Rebecca Melville, Lara Wainwright, Heather Mallett, Thea Hudson, Charlotte Lane
Novice IV: Beth Price-Williams, Joanne Rea, Thea Hudson, Charlotte Lane
TENNIS: Men’s Seconds (10.00), Women’s Firsts (12.00), Men’s Firsts (14.00), Tennis Courts
As one of the biggest points scorers in the competition, a great deal hinges on the performance of our tennis teams once more. Staggeringly, their successes in Lancaster last year contributed 10% of York’s points tally and Captain Peter Thompson-Glover is unlikely to accept a decline in standard on Saturday afternoon, particularly with home advantage.
“It’s hard to train a lot when you have exams, but we all really want this. We have the advantage because we are on our own courts; let’s hope we get loads of supporters,” he said, before adding unashamedly, “We are definitely going to win!”
And why not? A mid-table finish in BUCS League 2B was distinctly under par for a talented squad, which also features David Leff-Hallstein and Jack Moon, the skilful fresher, but this protracted league struggle was apparently a mere aperitif for the battle with Lancaster.
Is anyone out there more fired up for Roses than Maria Hunt, Captain of the women’s team? Nouse finds Maria imaginatively conjugating crowd chants [the team’s homework, apparently] to cap a week which has seen her treadmill-bashing, blister-popping and new team kit ordering for the York cause. After all, beating Lancaster for a second consecutive year would be the perfect 20th birthday present for the team leader.
“It would be an amazing birthday present!” Hunt said. “To win as a team! Having finished third in the BUCS League we want to finish off a great season. The women’s team have been training hard in preparation for singles, with a few fitness sessions thrown in. One thing is for certain is that as a Yorkshire woman, I am taking this competition extremely seriously and Roses victory is certain…I can taste it!”
The team’s training has mixed together a few unorthodox elements – the women played, and beat, the Saint Peter’s School women’s team the other day – to prepare them for the unique challenge of Roses, even if little is known about the opposition. With preparations running in parallel with their male counterparts, we can expect to see, and hear, plenty of mutual support on Saturday, witty chants included.
LACROSSE: Men’s (14.00)
Having beaten Lancaster in each of the past three years, scoring 44 goals in the process, York’s lacrosse team are understandably looking forward to Saturday afternoon’s re-match. However, like every team participating in Roses, the pressures of the examination season have restricted opportunities for training this week, meaning the post-mortem of a slightly mixed season will have to wait until week two. Memories of a mid-table finish, in a weather-affected BUCS campaign, are likely to be quickly vanquished by a strong performance against the Red Rose.
Eagerly anticipating the Roses clash, Michael ‘Stash’ Leahy, who will be acting team captain in the absence of the injured Harry Collins, told Nouse: “We’re a close knit squad, know each other’s strengths and styles of play and we’ve been looking forward to playing Lancaster all year. It’s going to be a great match, and we’re looking to the basics well, play solidly in defence and move the ball quickly in transition and attack to create plenty of scoring opportunities. This year won’t be any different [to the last two] – we’re going to win, and we’re not going to pull any punches in doing so.”
So, exactly who are the components of this well-oiled machine? Starting from the front, first-year Krishna Balan, who had gained extensive lacrosse experience at club-level in Sheffield, has slotted in seamlessly with fourth-year attacker Jack Wakefield, the Club President who recently earned selection for the Scotland national team.
The absence of Collins, in midfield, because of a broken finger, could prove a minor weakness given his outstanding skills in transferring the play from defence to attack. However, Leahy moves forward from defence to replace him and offers bucketfuls of experience, having been selected for Yorkshire, England Universities North and also trialled for England. Anchoring the team will be Joe Crosby, another recent selection for Yorkshire, in defence and goalkeeper Ben Robinson, another Yorkshire representative.
Up against this force, Lancaster have endured a torrid season, winning just one BUCS League fixture in finishing bottom of their division, conceding 108 goals in the process.
JUDO (All Categories from 15.00 onwards), Tent
With six points spread over six divisions, Saturday afternoon’s judo events could prove significant as York seek to take full advantage of the lessons learned from last year’s defeat. Club President Tom Church spoke to Nouse: “Our preparations have been good, plenty of training and competitions last term to get us in the right mindset. Our club is mostly made up of people who only took up judo when they came to university but have put so much effort into their training that they have raised the club to an excellent standard.”
“Last year, Lancaster put out a very strong team, but notwithstanding this our less experienced players gave them a real run for their money, with a few upsets along the way. A year on, with more experience under our belts, I am quietly confident of us picking up a few points,” he added.
SQUASH: Women’s Firsts (14.00)
York’s BUCS Cup winning women’s squash team aim to continue their imperious form against Lancastrian opponents who have endured a dreadful campaign on Saturday afternoon. The White Rose overcame Leeds University seconds 3-1 back in March to become the first York team to collect silverware under the BUCS guise and have won the previous two Roses encounters. All indications point to the four points then, something reiterated by Club President Caroline Watchurst, who predicts “a solid win” and “fully expects not to even drop a game.” Watchurst will be seeded third in the team, behind Jess Hunter and Lydia Vas Nunes, with team Captain Johanna Augustus completing the quartet.
HOCKEY: Women’s Seconds (10.00), Men’s Seconds (11.30), Women’s Firsts (13.00), Men’s Firsts (14.30), JLD Astroturf
The men’s firsts have been put through their paces all this week with some intensive fitness drills and then extensive pitch time. Even then, the ineptitude of the Sports Centre denied yet more training and more fitness, but then Captain Billy Walsh was never going to have preparations any other way. “I will accept nothing less than a victory,” he tells Nouse.
The two sides have both suffered this season, relegated from their respective divisions after a string of disappointing results, which would suggest a tight match is in prospect. Understandably, Walsh is hoping the additional efforts in building match fitness will ensure York aren’t beaten in the latter stages on Saturday afternoon. Of course, maintaining a battling spirit until the death proved the defining moment in last year’s competition, when Richard De Boltz’s last-minute equaliser secured York’s overall victory. De Boltz will feature in the team this time round, alongside other key players Rich Larkin, at right-back, Andy Harris, the driving force in midfield, and Niko Bode, who possesses unbelievable raw pace.
The women’s firsts will, similarly, be hoping to shrug off the disappointment of BUCS relegation with a rousing performance at Roses early on Saturday afternoon. York must contemplate life in League 3A after winning just one match all season and must find something special to counter the threat of BUCS Cup finalists Lancaster with the maximum four points on offer.
FENCING: Men’s, Men’s Seconds and Women’s (From 14.00), Tent
Winners of the Roses Team of the Year award last time round, all indications suggest that York’s fencers can again be exceedingly confident of victory. While Lancaster’s preparations are shrouded in mystery – especially the whereabouts of their talented overseas import – the versatility in all three disciplines (épee, sabre and foil) of the York men’s squad make them clear favourites for the big points on offer. Further York espionage has revealed, by comparison, that Lancaster’s leading fencer is competent only in one weapon. This could well prove the difference.
The men’s seconds team is a new venture, but talented fencing rookies such as Steven Bainbridge, offer the route to another couple of points, particularly after trainer Kate Horner’s shrewd emphasis on footwork drills. The women’s team remains largely unchanged from last year’s victory, with incoming captain Kat Chzhen and Charlotte Kerry amongst those hard in training recently. The men’s firsts, meanwhile, have been busy musing over their trios for each discipline, with early predictions being that Pavel Gusanov will slot in as leading sabre, team captain Harry Whitwell as first choice foil and Mike Denniss as top spot épee.
NETBALL: Thirds (13.00), Seconds (15.00), Firsts (17.00), Tent
‘The team that trains together, wins together’ – a mantra followed by York’s netball firsts for many years to produce great success. The Easter holidays witnessed intensive training on a day-to-day basis to ensure that Lancaster doesn’t win for a second year in a row, and the side-effect has been an unbreakable team mentality.
Wing Attack Cesca Dessain told Nouse: “I enjoyed training for this, when you have such a good team you want to make them proud! It was such an achievement to see how far we’ve come [a fact reinforced by the team’s third place BUCS League finish]. Right now all we need is the home crowd to lead us to victory!”
SNOOKER: Mixed (From 12.00), Fulford Conservative Club
Having enjoyed an excellent spell of form this season, peaking with a third-place at the BUCS national snooker championships, York’s snooker players will enter Roses as favourites for the four points on offer. The event, which York won last year, features teams of five, with each player playing a best of three match against their opponent.
SAILING: Mixed Firsts and Mixed Seconds (10.00), Beaver Sailing Club
York’s sailors will be taking to the water at the Beaver Sailing Club, near Selby, on Saturday afternoon with every reason to feel optimistic. After all, in last year’s tournament, York proved themselves a class apart, scooping first, second and third places for the ’ultimate’ win. In fact, the team racing format used at Roses seems to play into York’s hands, with the boats engaged in a three-on-three contest, with a team winning if their finishing positions add up to a score of ten or less. The first and second teams will battle it out for the points, with the ladies’ team competing for fun.
Club Vice-Commodore Rachel Harden told Nouse: “Our form this year has seen a marked improvement from last year, with the first team getting further along the BUCS trail than they have in the past few years. So, all in all, we look set to continue the trend of ensuring points for York before we even get on the water.”
RUGBY UNION: Men’s Seconds (12.00), Women’s Firsts (14.00), Men’s Firsts (15.00), 22 Acres
If men’s firsts Captain Mike Callis and Coach Alec Porter feel the need to motivate their players for the match with Lancaster on Saturday afternoon, they might as well pack up and head home. The kind of winning mentality and thirst for success which delivered 12 wins from 12 in BUCS League 2B doesn’t evaporate overnight, and York can enter this traditional highlight of the Roses weekend expecting victory.
Not that Lancaster are a sitting duck. They finished second behind county rivals UCLAN in the North-West league equivalent to York, amassing some enormous wins in the process, including a 100-0 romp over Liverpool John Moores in the BUCS Cup. Almost as impressive as York’s finest 80 minutes this season, a 105-0 annihilation of Huddersfield.
The women’s team will be similarly confident after storming to the final of the BUCS Cup in March, narrowly losing to Liverpool University, and being denied the opportunity to overhaul Sheffield Hallam in the league due to a fixture backlog. Lancaster, meanwhile, had an average season in League 2A, the same level as York but for the North-West universities, finishing third bottom and winning only one match.
However, York Captain Chrissie Leahy has been taking nothing for granted: “The team’s been working really hard to boost our fitness levels and tweak our skills and we’re in good shape. We’ve had a really good season – we got further in the BUCS Cup than Lancaster, but we’re not underestimating them. It was a hard match last year and anything could happen on the day. We’ll have to work to earn a win.”
MOUNTAINEERING: Mixed A and Mixed B Team (13.00), Oaklands Leisure Centre
The Oaklands Leisure centre, in Acomb, is the venue for this year’s mountaineering event, which consists of a bouldering competition, over a short, but technical, route designed to alleviate the need for safety ropes. Each mixed team is given three attempts to complete the climbing course, which no one will have tackled before, with 10, 7 and 4 points available if successfully completed. After two hours, the team with the most points is victorious. This is the first time points have been awarded for mountaineering events, with last year’s exhibition event going to Lancaster by a narrow margin.
VOLLEYBALL: Men’s (13.00), Women’s (15.30), Main Sports Hall
In 2008-2009, York men’s volleyball team finished mid-table in BUCS League 1A and reached the last 16 of the national BUCS Cup, an outstanding achievement considering the transient nature of the squad. With experienced international students, including player-coach Pietro Galli, flitting in and out of selection as they swap universities, maintaining any consistency and harmony in the team has been an unremitting challenge for Captain Jack Butcher.
Assessing the Lancaster challenge provides an additional headache; they failed to put together a team last year, but mysteriously resurfaced in the BUCS second division, finishing third, and reached the semi-finals of the Northern BUCS Cup. Its little wonder Butcher is taking nothing for granted.
“While we are probably marginal favourites, it will be a tense encounter and could be decided by small margins – so let’s get a huge crowd down at 1.00pm on Saturday to cheer us on and push us over the line!” he said.
Following a positive BUCS League campaign, which yielded a highly credible second place finish in a tough division featuring well-resourced opponents Leeds Met and Sheffield Hallam, the women’s team will certainly not be fearful of Lancaster. However, Lisa Breitschuh’s team will have to be at their very best to challenge a Red Rose outfit who swept aside all comers in BUCS League 2A, winning all eight matches and securing promotion by a 15-point margin. Lancaster were also finalists in the BUCS Cup, losing in straight sets to the elite Leeds Met firsts.
WATER POLO: Women’s (18.00), Men’s (18.45), Archbishop’s Holgate School
The men’s water polo team have, it seems, never had so much preparation for this year’s Roses encounter. The inaugural U-Polo League has brought together many of the northern universities in regular competition, with every minute in the pool valuable practice ahead of this highlight of the year. However, Lancaster aren’t part of this U-Polo community, making Saturday night’s clash all the more intriguing. Outstanding performers in the team this season include all-round sports shot-stopper Sam Clitheroe between the posts, the prolific Duncan Eggleston, Ben Smith and lynchpin Arran Bowen-la Grange. Expect Captain Jeffrey Wright to have York pumped up for this one.
When you lose your first match of the season 21-0, things really can only get better. This ominous fate befell our women’s water polo team back in the Autumn but, thanks to a Herculean effort, they have gone from strength to strength ever since. The highlight for Suleika Rohd-Thomsen, the team Captain, and the best indicator for next weekend, was an unexpected victory over Lancaster at a friendly tournament in Sheffield at the back end of 2008. Its likely memories of this particular game will be pushed to the fore in the build-up to Saturday night’s showdown at the Archbishop’s Holgate School.
Excitedly discussing her team’s chances with Nouse, Rohd-Thomsen said: “There is a bit of a family rivalry going on, with one of our player’s sisters the Vice-Captain of the Lancaster team. We think they are underestimating us and look forward to disappointing them! Pre-Roses training has been complicated by exams and coursework, but the girls are very dedicated and enthusiastic, even stretching to mud-covered land training in the rain, which wouldn’t be quite so traumatic if the track was slightly more solid.”
Although stressing the strong team ethic, Rohd-Thomsen highlighted a few players to look out for next Saturday:
- Kirsty Caldecott-Tucker: “Our equivalent to a back row all by herself, and it makes me happy that she’s on my team so I never have to be marked by her in a match!”
- Tharaki Siyaguna: “New this year and probably our most strategic player, always seeming to turn up exactly where you need her.”
- Courtney Mitchell: “A tiny little thing with far too much energy and an awesome arm.”
- Ruth Salmon: “Our aptly named swimming captain, and is always up front ready for any gap in defence.”
Why not head down to the Archbishop’s Holgate School on Hull Road to support York’s swimmers and water polo teams? The swimming events get underway at 5pm, followed straight away by the women’s water polo at just after 6 and capped by the men’s event at about 6.45. Poolside is the perfect place to generate a cauldron of pro-York noise!
POOL: Women’s (18.00), Men’s (19.00), Derwent Bar
There are big plans afoot to ensure Derwent Bar provides the perfect home advantage for York’s pool players on Saturday night: PA announcers, walk-on music and big screen relays of the matches will ensure an unforgettable and inspiring atmosphere. After all, it was the raucous crowd that proved influential in Lancaster’s victories last time and the ambition is to completely turn the tables. Each team will be made up of nine players, competing in a best of three match against their opponent. All supporters very welcome!
Also happening on Saturday:
BALLROOM DANCING (9.00-17.00), Derwent Bar
INDOOR FOOTBALL: Men’s Thirds (12.00), Men’s Seconds (12.45), Men’s Firsts (13.30), Women’s Seconds (14.15), Women’s Firsts (15.00), Tent
TRAMPOLINING: Novice, Intermediate and Advanced (10.00), Dance Studio)
SWIMMING: Men’s and Women’s (From 17.00), Archbishop’s Holgate School
DARTS: Women’s (17.00), Men’s (19.00), Derwent Bar
EXHIBITION – POLO: Mixed (13.00), TAE KWON DO: Mixed (16.00), Dance Studio, TAI CHI: Mixed (17.00), Dance Studio