The future of Varsity up in the air as Hull replace neighbours York St. John

Billy Walsh in action in last year’s Varsity hockey match. This year will see York’s finest do battle with the University of Hull instead of local rivals York St John university. Photo credit: Peter Iveson

Billy Walsh in action in last year’s Varsity hockey match. This year will see York’s finest do battle with the University of Hull instead of local rivals York St John university. Photo credit: Peter Iveson

Annual Varsity sports tournament is set for a major overhaul as the University of Hull will replace close neighbours York St. John in a bid to create a more worthwhile and competitive tournament.

The tournament, which was revived last year by York Sport President Emily Scott, after a fixture pile-up had made it untenable in 2009, has never been won by St. John and proved less than competitive last time out. Even if the event had been restricted to the only three sports in which St. John had scored points, York would have still triumphed by 20.5 points to 19.25. As it was Varsity was secured by a 70 point margin, as York won by 91.25 to 19.25.

Current York Sport President, Sam Asfahani, described negotiations which left St. John out in the cold as “very amicable” but was also forthright regarding why the decision had been taken: “If it isn’t beneficial to students and it’s losing money, then it’s not worth pursuing. The new structure means more clubs and more teams will be able to represent at the weekend, making it a larger spectacle.”

It is unclear whether Asfahani’s intention to expand the tournament to a White Rose Varsity including Leeds Trinity All Saints College, as well as St. John and Hull, still stands. Nouse understands that although the plans are on hold, they have not been shelved permanently.

The attempt to revamp Varsity comes in response to an overall financial loss of one pound incurred during last year’s tournament as YUSU run events produced under-par returns. Although there is little doubt that a contest with Hull will be more competitive, there is a worry that without the local rivalry the tournament will simply be a pre-cursor to the more important Roses.

Men’s hockey player and the Women’s coach, Richard Larkin, stated that: “I think it’s a shame that York Sport feels the need to replace St. John with Hull. For me the whole point of Varsity is the local derby aspect. Hull seems like just an arbitrary choice of another university, I mean, as far as I know we have no real history or rivalry with them.”

However, a second year sportsman, who chose to remain anonymous, saw the change as “definitely positive. St. John was a nothing fixture, Hull will provide a much better warm-up for Roses which, to be honest, is what we’re all aiming for anyway.”

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