Varsity organisers under fire

The University of Hull’s White Rose Varsity organisation has suffered a backlash following a series of scheduling and fixture mix ups on Sunday

The women's football match was marred by a change of venue and poor officiating. Image: Petroc Taylor

The women’s football match was marred by a change of venue and poor officiating. Image: Petroc Taylor

The University of Hull’s White Rose Varsity organisation has suffered a major backlash following a series of scheduling and fixture mix ups on Sunday. The annual tournament between Hull and York was held at Hull on Sunday for the first time since the competition began, but Hull’s first attempts to stage the contest left many of York’s clubs unhappy with the lack of communication between the two universities and the questionable organisation.

The criticism centres mainly on the women’s football firsts match, which was affected by both a late change of venue and problems with the officiating. The game was originally scheduled to take place on the 3G pitch but upon arrival the team was told that they would in fact be playing on one a grass pitch. The lack of communication from the Hull organisers to York Sport meant that none of the women’s players had the correct footwear for a grass pitch and had to play without studded football boots.

Meg Phillips, University of York Women’s Football President, told Nouse, “I was disappointed by the lack of organisation at Varsity. Firstly, the timetable was only sent to York from Hull on Friday afternoon, so by the time the clubs received it, it was too late to contest the fact UYWAFC were down to play on the 3G, which isn’t our usual or preferred surface. Expecting to play on the 3G, not all the team took studs with them. As you can imagine, less than 10 minutes before kick off, when we were told we would be playing on grass we were less than impressed. Only a few players had studs with them so our performance was affected as we slid all over the place.”

Charlotte Winter, York Sport President, also commented on the delayed timetable and lack of organisation, “Really disappointed with some of the organisation from Varsity. Getting the finalised timetable through on Friday was really much too late and I think the overall experience for our women’s football summed up the day.”

The scheduling mix up was not the only issue to mar the women’s football as poor time-keeping from the referee led to the game being cut short by ten minutes. While attempts were made to resolve the mix up between the team captains it emerged that the referee had already left as he had a Christening to attend.

The disastrous officiating was also commented on by Phillips, “The quality of the referees in a number of matches was also questionable. Our referee didn’t allow a proper warm up as he had a private engagement at 13:00 and demanded we started as close to 11:00 as possible”. She went on to condemn the lack of professionalism from the referee: “He barely moved around the pitch so failed to make the right call on a number of occasions, and even answered his phone mid-game. He wasn’t professional, however this didn’t bother him either.”

But one of the most pressing issues was the time-keeping, which Phillips was particularly unhappy with, she told Nouse: “What was most unacceptable was when he blew the final whistle after just 37 minutes in the second half, and then how he denied cutting the match short despite clear evidence being provided. Even when I highlighted to him that had we played 45 minutes it would mean we had only had 3 minutes at most for half time, which was clearly not the case, he refused to back down and was quick to pack up his things and leave. In the spirit of Varsity we decided to leave the match there, as resuming the match without a ref seemed more hassle than it was worth.”

A tweet from the University of York Women’s Football Club after the match also summed up how the team were feeling in the wake of their 3-1 loss “Questioning if our game even counts after such poor ref-ing and cutting the game short by 10mins..” Captain Amy Johnson was clearly unhappy with the venue change as she said in her post-match comments “it was unfortunate we were on the pitch and not the 3G.” These comments were made just prior to the team realising how much their game had been cut short by.

Phillips finished by telling Nouse, “It’s a shame that such a great day was spoiled by the disorganisation of the hosts, and the poor, unprofessional refereeing.”

Varsity does not yet have an official winner as the clay pigeon shooting, which takes place on Wednesday, will ultimately decide where the trophy goes.

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