College Sport at York
In the feeding frenzy of the British university selection process, one of York’s most attractive features to applicants is its adoption of Oxbridge style colleges. Although the reality of the collegiate system has its naysayers, the sporting opportunities it provides are undeniably positive. They provide students of all abilities the chance to play a variety of sports at a good, competitive level, whilst lacking the intensity of University level competition.
Football is the sport that dominates campus, and is by far the most popular college sport in terms of participation. Played largely on the windswept fields of 22 Acres, or the equally chilly JLD astro turf, the first two terms sees the various colleges compete in a league system, with segregated leagues for the first teams, the second teams etc. The number of teams entered into respective leagues is dependent on the manpower of the college, but the majority enter at least three teams. Larger colleges even enter five, a testament to the numbers involved in college football.
Although the league is important, most would agree that it plays second fiddle to the College Cup. The culmination of the football season, this knock-out competition takes place in mid-week games on the (theoretically) sun-drenched JLD. Although college sport is mostly casual, the cup is taken seriously, especially in the latter stages and with hundreds of people signing up for Nouse Fantasy Football. Halifax claimed a 3-2 victory over Derwent in last year’s thrilling final, but any number of teams can win. The competition has been known to throw up a few surprises.
Last year also saw college rugby move onto campus for the first time, though that process was certainly not without its teething problems. Continuing one common theme from previous years, however, Derwent swept aside all opposition to win the league and the one-day 10s contest. The hope for many is that the coming seasons will see a far more competitive college rugby scene, after Derwent were able to thrash their closest rivals Alcuin 95-0 in the final last time out.
College hockey continues to go from strength to strength; the introduction of a Hockey College Cup in 2012 widely heralded a success. Derwent broke Halifax’s dominance from the previous year to beat Alcuin 9-4 in this year’s contest, while college netball is also very popular. Last year, James College were able to steal away reigning champions Alcuin’s title in the Spring Term.
Opportunities also exist to play college basketball, badminton, cricket, darts and pool, amongst others. There are also one-day college competitions throughout the year, including the slightly more marginal sports such as dodgeball, with last year’s highlight coming in the inaugural indoor rowing event that inspired a raucous atmosphere in the Roger Kirk Centre. The summer also sees an Inter-College Sports Day, comprised mainly of the traditional track and field events.
Obviously it is a personal choice to take part in college sport. It is by no means compulsory, but the people that choose to get involved often find it becomes one of the most fulfilling aspects of their time at York.
University Sport at York
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 18 clubs set to be in regular BUCS action next year. The sports represented will be badminton, basketball, cricket, fencing, football, futsal, golf, hockey, lacrosse, netball, rugby union, squash, tennis, table tennis, volleyball, swimming,water polo, and American football.
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 for the second year in succession, that was despite a serious push to break the top 40 which did yield an increased points tally for the White Rose if not an improvement on their position. York also remained comfortably ahead of main rivals Lancaster, but more on that 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.
As well as the regular inter-university action, there are two major annual competitions that York takes part in. The first was 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 three years ago in an effort to make the tournament more competitive, though York still recorded comfortable victories in both 2011 and 2012. Last year saw Hull host the competition for the first time, and they won by a narrow margin. But after a series of organisational problems marred the event, the future of Varsity came under question and 2014’s event was cancelled ahead of the new academic year. However, York Sport President Cassandra Brown did announce that new options are being explored to replace Varsity.
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. York reclaimed the Carter-James Trophy last year in emphatic style, and this year we will head back over to Lancaster to defend our crown in the 50th edition of Roses.
Alongside that stunning Roses performance, there were plenty of other highlights to enjoy in a superb sporting year. Clubs such as lacrosse, women’s football, and squash all performed superbly to claim BUCS success, while the men’s rugby first XV were in spectacular form all year as they earned promotion to the Premier League before enjoying their annual tradition of a Roses whitewash. The undisputed stars of the year, though, were the University Futsal Club; the first York side in history to win a BUCS Premier League title, they then went on to the semi finals of the national competition and proudly represented Great Britain at the European Championships this summer. After such a brilliant 2012/13 season, hopes are high for more Black and Gold success in the near future.
So, if you want to represent the White Rose, be sure to get down to the trials taking place during Freshers’ Week. Our fully profiled A-Z guide to University of York sports clubs can be found here. And if you need any more encouragement, here are the thoughts of some of York’s sporting elite:
Mike Clough, Cycling Club President – “The University of York Cycling club is one of the fastest growing clubs on campus, with regular rides in the local area and also further afield. We cater for every level and discipline plus the club has access to great facilities, like the new circuit at Hes East and club bikes available for people who don’t have their own. We participate in many local races, BUC’s events and have a fantastic social scene. The club is a great way to get to know others who share a passion for cycling and find out some awesome routes around the city and countryside.”
Danny Philpot, UYSWC Press and Publicity Officer – “Being a member of the Swimming and Water Polo Club has been one of the major highlights of my time at York so far! The level of commitment to the team both in the pool and on socials is fantastic, and this is reflected in the club’s success last year both nationally, and in Roses against Lancaster. UYSWC is a great club to get involved in whether you’re experienced in the pool or not. I’d never played water polo before this year but have enjoyed every minute of it, and have met some great swimmers and water polo players along the way.”
Nina Rawlings and James Hope, Hockey Club Presidents – “The University of York Hockey Club is one of the largest and most diverse clubs on campus. We are notorious for being well balanced shown through our ceaseless effort in both matches and training, whilst also making the most of our off the pitch social pursuits. A particular highlight of our year is the annual Roses competition for which we achieved extensive success this year. We’ve had a strong fresher intake in recent years and hope to continue this by encouraging anyone who enjoys playing hockey, or who would like to try it, to come along. Being part of UYHC is more than just playing a sport, it is a club that truly captures the essence of the university and sporting experiences and lives them to their fullest.”
Luke Bradley, UYAFC President – “I’ve always loved football but as a fresher I didn’t know what to expect at all from football at university. What a good job it was I went to the trials! University football combines a desire to succeed and professional work ethic with some amazing socials! Culminating in last seasons cup win and subsequent celebrations! Playing for UYAFC is the best decision I have made at university!
Tom Chadwick, UYRUFC President – “UYRUFC is a totally student led club, and caters for players of all abilities. We field three teams every week, demonstrating our capacity to provide rugby at levels to suit all. We pride ourselves on playing expansive, attractive rugby, and have had immense success in recent years. Last year the 1st XV was promoted and this year will compete in Premiership B, just below the highest league of national university rugby. Consequently, we can offer a very high standard of rugby for players willing to compete at the highest level. The club’s best trait is its ability to balance a friendly and vibrant social life with a dedicated and professional attitude that consistently sets up all its teams for successful seasons filled with exciting and enjoyable rugby.”
Patrick Somerville-Large, Boat Club President – “One of my main goals when I went to Fresher’s Fair was to join something where I could make some new friends, keep fit, and have valid excuse to go out on a Wednesday. What I found was a club which would challenge me physically, allow me represent the University at a national level, and introduce me to my (now) closest mates at York. Rowing is truly a unique sport in the sense that many people start at University, and have the ability to go on to compete at a top level. That much can be said for two former members, who had never been in a boat before University, and now have ambitions for the 2016 Olympics.”
Andy Chalmers, Lacrosse Club President – “Sport at York has been the highlight of my University career, from representing York at the Lowlands Lacrosse tournament in Amsterdam, to maintaining Lacrosse’s 8 year undefeated streak in Roses. Our ever expanding numbers have lead to successes on the pitch at tournaments at Saloufest, Dublinfest, maintaining an undefeated league season and coming runner up in both the men’s and women’s BUCS cup. Off the pitch we make full use our numbers and mixed status, creating some of the biggest and best socials on campus. Lacrosse is widely recognised as the fastest growing sport on the planet – and it is no different here at York University.”
Andrew Henderson, Badminton Club President – “Being part of Badminton Club has been an incredible experience both on and off the court. When on court, the competitive element really enables strong friendships to form with team mates and also adds to the sense of being part of the University of York. When off court, the many socials and friendly atmosphere at club nights has allowed me to meet so many people who I otherwise would never have encountered and as a consequence, almost every time I walk through campus I will meet someone that I know. A highlight for me was seeing all four of our badminton teams win at last years Roses.”