ANTICIPATION IS BUILDING ahead of the fifth Varsity with Durham on 25 February in which York hope to reclaim the spoils on home turf.
Since the formation of the tournament in 2014, York are trailing 3-1 in titles to the self-proclaimed “Best Team Sports University”. Anyone who loves York like we do here at Nouse Sport will be hoping to put a sizeable dent in their lead this month and ensure the Varsity trophy does not head back up the A1 to Durham.
With Roses away at Lancaster, this one-day matchup will be the biggest sporting event hosted by York this year. The travelling Durham contingent do not have fond memories of this segment of Yorkshire, after York won their first-ever Varsity title on home turf in 2016.
However, Durham boasts one of the oldest and most prestigious college sport systems in the country and will doubtless be looking to avenge this defeat and replicate the domination seen in the 2017 instalment in which York were convincing losers 31-94 – the biggest ever win margin, incidentally.
Nevertheless, York Sport Union President Laura Carruthers maintains that York’s college sport system has “improved so much” in recent years and “absolutely” believes a repeat of York’s inaugural Varsity win in 2016 can repeat itself tomorrow; stressing that we should “never underestimate the power of a home crowd,” who will, she hopes, roar York’s representatives on to a prestigious victory.
“never underestimate the power of a home crowd”
Indeed, York have certainly performed better on home soil, with the 2016 York Varsity 56-48 win being on home turf, compared to nine wins from 24 games and seven from 36 games on the road in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
We pick out the need-to-know information ahead of each Varsity 2018 fixture, including our favourite moments from qualifiers weekend earlier this month; which fixtures York will hope to pick up points in; and the threat posed by 32 of Durham’s finest teams.
A – James vs University
15:00, 22 acres
B – Derwent vs St. Chad’s
12:30, 22 acres
Lacrosse has traditionally been a sport in which points have been hard to win for York. This year will be no different, with James facing an unbeaten University college side. Derwent are up against St Chad’s, who have experienced more mixed fortune in their division, in what looks to be a closer fixture.
A – Langwith v Grey
15:00, 22 acres
B – Halifax vs St. Cuthbert’s
12:30, 22 acres
The B match will be the first ball sports fixture of the day and it is a category in which a sizeable difference in performance is needed if York are to reclaim the Varsity spoils; after taking just 21 per cent of the points in this category in the 2017 edition.
The footballing sides of Langwith and Halifax will be looking to avenge Durham’s sizeable 2017 lead in this category as they face Grey and St. Cuthbert’s, respectively. It won’t be an easy task, however, as Grey are a force to be reckoned with after remaining unbeaten in the league since a shock Floodlit Cup exit in October.
Men’s Rugby Union
A – Derwent v Hatfield
15:00, 22 acres
B – Hes East vs University
12:30, 22 acres
The rugby clashes will once again be the most highly-anticipated fixtures. Derwent and Hes East were York’s representatives last year and they remain York’s top two rugby clubs, as expected, after convincing performances in qualifiers weekend. They will both be looking to improve on last year’s results in which they were both outclassed by the Palatinates.
Hes East had been undefeated this season until their spicy 5-12 defeat to Derwent earlier this month in the qualifiers final brought with it an unfamiliar taste of second-best. To compound Hes East’s disappointment at defeat, half an hour into this match, their top try scorer for the previous two seasons hobbled off and may not be fit in time to face University college.
Women’s Touch Rugby
A – Hes East vs St Aidan’s
14:30, 22 acres
B – James vs Trevelyan
13:00, 22 acres
There is a lot of inspiration to be taken from the women’s touch rugby teams, particularly in how quickly and successfully they have grown in such a short space of time. To reflect this, there will be two women’s rugby fixtures for the first time at Varsity. Hes East and James will be looking to bring all of the points home as they face St Aidan’s and Trevelyan, respectively, in this non-contact form of rugby.
A – Langwith vs St. Mary’s
13:00, Tennis Dome
B – Vanbrugh v Durham select
15:00, Tennis Dome
Langwith qualified for the top tier fixture and will be looking to build upon their Varsity B match win last year against Castle. Langwith is the only team from last year’s representatives to be playing this year, signalling a host of teams with something to prove.
A – Constantine v Ustinov
15:30, Arena 1
B – Langwith v St. Hilde and St. Bede
17:00, Arena 1
The basketball qualifying final between the Hes East colleges of Constantine and Langwith was a particularly spectacular moment from qualifiers weekend, with Constantine edging out winners 44-39 in a tense and closely-fought contest that went down to the wire. They will take to the court against Ustinov and St Hilde and St Bede, respectively.
A – James v Chad’s-John’s
15:30, Squash courts
B – Vanbrugh vs St. Cuthbert’s
13:00, Squash courts
James and Vanbrugh have qualified yet again for Varsity, however this time they will be hoping to avenge their defeats in the 2017 edition. Matthew Jermy is one to watch, representing Vanbrugh in the B fixture.
A – Halifax v Collingwood
B – Derwent vs Van Mildert
Hockey has been a source of more recent point accumulation for York, winning five of a possible eight points in 2017. This year Halifax and Derwent will hope to at least replicate that tally against Durham’s finest. Halifax are currently in good form, having won the recent indoor hockey tournament. Halifax’s opponents, Collingwood, are top of their league though, so Halifax will have to hope for a continuation of their recent good form, in particular from the likes of Katie Crawford in defence.
A – James vs St. Aidan’s
15:00, Arena 3
B – Halifax vs Trevelyan
13:30, Arena 3
Volleyball has often been an assured point-winner for York. Indeed, it was a dominant Wentworth volleyball side that sealed York’s first-ever Varsity victory in 2016. Moreover, York can boast a points won in volleyball percentage of 72 per cent since the tournament was founded. While this is the first year a strong Wentworth side have failed to qualify, the equally-strong sides of James and Halifax will be hoping to continue the volleyball supremacy of York. This year James have qualified in the top tier and will be looking to repeat their 3-1 victory from the last varsity.
A – York Select v University
B – York select vs Collingwood
Despite BUCS pool clashing with Varsity, York have two strong teams such is the depth of the pool squad. This year there is an extra pool match and York will be confident of taking all the points in the category.
A – Derwent v Collingwood
17:00, Arena 2
B – Goodricke v St Aidan’s
15:30, Arena 2
Goodricke netball provided arguably the biggest shock result of the qualifiers, as they qualified for Varsity for the first time ever, dumping out a strong Halifax side in the process after a narrow 20-18 win. Isabel Morgan has been an integral cog in Goodricke’s recent upturn in form. So their B fixture is certainly one to keep an eye on, because if they can reproduce the spirit and grit they showed earlier this month then another upset would not be so surprising. Meanwhile in the A game match-up, Derwent will be looking to avenge the loss they experienced last year.
Women’s 7-A-Side Football
A – Goodricke v Josephine Butler
16:10, JLD (pitch A)
B – Constantine v Trevelyan
16:10, JLD (pitch C)
The Heslington East colleges of Goodricke and Constantine populate York’s representatives in women’s 7-a-side football. They face Josephine Butler and Trevelyan, respectively, with the former boasting a 100 per cent win ratio in league matches this season.
Badminton ladies’ doubles
A – Halifax vs St. Cuthbert’s
16:30, Arena 3 (courts 3 and 4)
B – Derwent vs Stephenson
16:30, Arena 3 (courts 1 and 2)
Badminton men’s doubles
A – James v Hilde Bede
17:30, Arena 3 (courts 3 and 4)
B – Halifax v Van Mildert
17:30, Arena 3 (courts 1 and 2)
Badminton mixed doubles
A – Halifax v John Snow
18:30, Arena 3 (courts 3 and 4)
B – Derwent v St Cuthbert’s
18:30, Arena 3 (courts 1 and 2)
With six fixtures and a sizeable 24 points available over the course of the day in the men’s, women’s and mixed categories, badminton will be crucial in deciding where the Varsity trophy goes. Halifax registered some thumping victories last year and this year they, alongside Derwent, dominate York’s badminton representatives. For Durham, St Hilde and St Bede, St Cuthbert’s and John Snow (not the Game of Thrones character but rather the Stockton-based college) will compete in the A games, while the B matches feature sides from Van Mildert, Stephenson and St Cuthbert’s.
Since 2014, York’s badminton teams have won 62.5 per cent of matches and will remain hopeful of continuing this form in the Sports Arena later this month.
A – Alcuin v Grey
B – Derwent v St Mary’s
Darts runs alongside pool in providing a fitting end to the competition. Grey pose a notable threat to Alcuin as they are on an impressive run which Alcuin will look to put to a halt, particularly if their star player Notania Chow replicates recent performances on the biggest college stage of all.
The stakes are high for both sides. This Varsity is not one to miss. All that’s left to say is, let the games begin.
You can follow all the action with live updates from our website: http://www.nouse.co.uk/sport/varsity/