Lancaster claim victory in Roses 2023 at an emotional closing ceremony


Emily Warner (she/her) reports on the Closing Ceremony of Roses 2023

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Image by Emily Warner

By Emily Warner

A triumphant closing ceremony finished off this year's Roses and Lancaster were crowned the victors. York Sport Union President, Franki Riley, handed out the awards and delivered some emotional closing words. She expressed her thanks for the support of everyone involved; the athletes, the Shine a Light campaign in partnership with charity Survive, student media, volunteers and supporters.

Franki took to the stage amidst a sea of supportive faces, still riding on the elation of York’s basketball win. Surrounded by so much love and sportsmanship, the emotions of the day were almost too overwhelming and Franki struggled not to collapse to the ground during the speech. She began by thanking the effort of supporters for Shining a Light on sexual violence, and Survive. Mags Godderidge, the Chief Executive Officer for Shine a Light, was invited to share a few words about the charity and she expressed her gratitude for the overwhelming support. After the ceremony, she was asked how she would sum up her experience of the weekend. She replied, ‘the whole thing has been hopeful. Hope about everything. People hoping to win, people hoping that things will change’ and with the amount of money raised, she was feeling, ‘hopeful that we might be able to do something more with students’.

Lancaster then thanked York for hosting the Roses 2023 tournament and all of their efforts to make this a successful and inclusive event.

Lauren Sandoval Arteaga, York Women’s Basketball, was announced player of the tournament and highly commended was given to Anna Lithgow, York Women’s Lacrosse. The Roses team of the tournament was the University of York Netball Club. Then, the highly coveted Roses trophy was awarded to Lancaster, the overall winner. This was announced to jubilant celebrations from Meg Homburg and Lancaster supporters and it means that York and Lancaster are now tied in the history of the competition. The Lancaster Roses committee ran onto the stage and Meg was quickly hoisted onto their shoulders before rapidly dissolving into a group embrace. Audience members cheered from the sidelines and the atmosphere was elated, from both sides. Sport is, at the end of the day, about celebrating everyone, even if that is the opposition.

York VC Charlie Jeffery stands up to commemorate his first home Roses tournament, conceding that, ‘Roses have a slightly red tinge’, ‘hats off to Lancaster!’ He praised the admirable 3000 athletes and 3000 supporters in this ‘fantastic celebration of sport’, as well as the work of student media, volunteers and everyone else involved. He also thanks the work of Franki, for shining a light on sexual violence in sport through two art installations. £2676 were raised for Survive and both universities will purchase one of the artworks to keep in their permanent collection. They will also match the funds raised for Survive this weekend, taking the total raised to over £8000; this is the most money ever raised by a Roses tournament. It is undoubtedly testament to the effort that has gone into curating the event.

The Lancaster VP takes to the mic to say, ‘Lancaster, this isn’t just for us, this is for the past 38 years’. She also said, ‘York, you have been fantastic. You have not made this easy. Thank you so much for having us.’

Franki Riley returns to the stage for her final speech and expression of gratitude. In a particularly emotional display she thanks Survive, volunteers and charity champions for making this possible. She also thanked her York Sport Committee, for being the best team she could have asked for, both during the weekend and over the last two years. She said, ‘this event has been everything and more. This is all because of you.’ As this will be her last Roses as York Sport Union President, the thank you speech was combined with a touching goodbye. She asked those listening to light up the showcourt with their phone torches, as a symbol to, ‘keep shining a light on sexual violence in sport, so sport can be a safe space for everyone’.

A crowd of teary eyes looked back at her and an incredible feeling of empowerment and solidarity lit up the room, as much as the light of the torches. York supporters surrounded Franki as Roses 2023 came to an end and in her words, ‘York, it wasn’t our time this weekend’ but, ‘we can hold our heads up high’.