Images: Philippa Grafton, Agatha Torrance, Andy Davis and Hoagy Davis-Digges
York provides a wide range of opportunities for students to get involved in sport. While the collegiate sport system is hugely successful in encouraging wide scale participation, the cream of York’s sporting crop compete at University level, proudly wearing the black and gold as they compete against other northern universities in the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) leagues, as well as in local leagues.
BUCS fixtures generally take place on Wednesday afternoons, with 19 clubs set to be in regular BUCS action next year. The sports represented will be badminton, basketball, cricket, equestrian, fencing, football, futsal, golf, hockey, lacrosse, netball, rugby union, squash, tennis, table tennis, volleyball, swimming and water polo. And, for the first time, American football will be a BUCS sport, allowing the York Centurions to represent the University in the competition.
There are many other sports also represented in non-weekly BUCS events, such as rowing and snowsports. Sports clubs are able to send teams or individual athletes to compete in, for example, one-off athletics or martial arts tournaments. York finished a respectable 43rd in last year’s BUCS league, five places higher than the previous year and eight ahead of main adversaries Lancaster (more on that rivalry later).
However, BUCS competition is not the only source of University level competition. With over 60 sports clubs at York, ranging from darts to octopush, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in whatever sport takes your fancy. A full list of clubs can be found in York Sport’s club directory.
As well as the regular inter-university action, there are two major annual competitions that York takes part in. The first is White Rose Varsity, which takes place in the middle of Spring Term. Having started as a contest between York and York St John, Hull replaced our city rivals two years ago in an effort to make the tournament more competitive, though York still recorded comfortable victories in both 2011 and 2012. Next year could see Hull host the tournament for the first time, with the KC Stadium mooted as a potential venue.
The biggest sporting event of the University calendar, though, is Roses. Named after the Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York, this competition sees the two universities continue that historical battle in an epic three-day sporting contest. With huge participation and a colossal number of events, this is always a highlight of the year, no matter the result. It’s York’s turn to host this year, and it promises to be a spectacular weekend, particularly with the facilities at the York Sport Village providing new state of the art venues.
Despite a narrow defeat in Lancaster last year, there were many great achievements for York’s sides, not least a superb BUCS Cup final triumph for the men’s cricket firsts over the Red Rose in June. There were five winners in the BUCS leagues as well, with men’s futsal, men’s table tennis, women’s rugby and two women’s hockey sides earning promotion. For a full run down of last year, check out our Storify of the sporting year.
So, if you want to represent the White Rose, be sure to get down to the trials taking place during Freshers’ Week. And if you need any more encouragement, here are the thoughts of some of York’s sporting elite:
Baillie Watterson, Badminton Team President – “This will be my fourth year representing the University badminton teams and I can honestly say that I am still as excited for the new season as ever. There is no shortage of amazing people in the Badminton Club and I have travelled all over the country for BUCS matches, something I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. One of the largest, most social and successful clubs at the university, as Sam Asfahani [former York Sport President] tweeted last year at Roses, you can always rely on badminton to deliver.”
Dan Cornwell, Fencing Club President – “The fencing club at York is a brilliant place both for both experienced fencers to improve their skills and beginners to pick up the sport with ease. As well as top level coaching, regular matches against other universities in the area, and a friendly competitive spirit, the club also offers an ever friendly atmosphere and some fun nights out!”
Mylo Scurr, Hockey Club President - “The Hockey Club at York has a fantastic camaraderie, and the atmosphere at Roses is second to none. The club is thriving both on and off the pitch, joining in freshers was the best thing I could have done. Preparations for October are well underway, and the season is shaping up to be an exciting one. This year we are pioneering a unique scheme which will see students who receive financial support from the University pay reduced membership and match fees – we’ll be the only York Sport club offering such support.”
Chris Snowden, Swimming and Water Polo Club President – “Being part of the Swimming and Water Polo Club has been one of the best experiences I’ve had at university with competing and the socials, and I’ve made some great friends while doing it. We’ve had a successful couple of years but with the new pool hopefully this year will be even better!”
Amy Moll, Netball Club President – “UYNC is a fantastic club to be a part of. It is a real privilege to be a member of a group of girls who are not only committed and determined sportswomen, but also great friends. The club’s small size (around 30 members) means that as soon as you become involved with UYNC, you really feel like part of a family. Highlights for me so far have included two wins out of three at Varsity this year and of course the huge array of fancy dress I have collected after many Wednesday nights with netball in Ziggys!”
Hugh Draycott, Rugby Club President - “It has been an absolute privilege to represent the University in rugby and be involved in one of the most successful clubs on campus. The professionalism and hardworking attitude expressed in training and on the pitch is perfectly balanced by a number of lively and well attended socials; I also found it a great place to meet people from all across the University. A highlight that will always stay with me will be whitewashing Lancaster, our Roses rivals, on away soil.”
Ed Scobie, Boat Club President - “The Boat Club is a great club to be part of. Unlike many other clubs at York many of our members have never rowed before joining University so we coach our Novices to bring them up to a similar standard of the rest of the squad. With next year already shaping up to be UYBC’s most successful to date, it is a great time to be joining. Competing at national events all over the country, most famously Henley Royal Regatta – UYBC is the club to join if you want to make the most of your time at York.”