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College Sport at York
[flickr-slideshow tags="collegesport1213" caption="Images: Agatha Torrance, Petroc Taylor, Lily Grant"]
Aside from the concrete jungles of the college buildings, the halcyon glory of Vanbrugh Paradise, and of course the lake (the 'largest plastic-bottomed lake in Europe' as QI informs us), one of the best things about the University is our collegiate system, which allows us to have a College Sport system. This means that everyone is split up nicely into groups and can have a go at sports whilst representing their college. If you're after a kick-about in the park or a quick game of rugby on a Sunday morning without the stresses and strains of top-level teams, then College Sport is for you.
The College Sport calendar revolves around York's shiny new varsity competition, which now stands as the College Varsity against our counterparts at Durham. Out of eight sports, the top four colleges in each will fight for two places in the tournament through knock-out qualification. This year, our champion colleges will be travelling to Durham for the first time in the tournament's history to try and win the trophy for the first time for York after Durham closely edged us out last time round.
Football is the biggest and most popular sport on campus, with matches played on grass pitches at the 22 Acres playing fields behind James College, on the JLD AstroTurf on Hes West, or the 3G pitch at York Sport Village over on Hes East. Each college has a particular number of teams - most have either three, four or five sides, whilst Constantine, the newest college on campus which opens this year, starts life with two teams. The teams compete in a league system during winter and spring, which for the first time this year will include promotion and relegation between the four divisions. Then comes the highlight of the football calendar in Summer - the College Cup. The competition is played on the JLD in 60-minute matches, with a number of sides going for glory. This has been dominated by Halifax in the last few years, who won the trophy in 2014 after and have made it to all of the last four finals. At Cup time, hundreds of people take part in the Nouse Fantasy Football, pitting their wits against other competitors who fancy themselves as the next Jose Mourinho.
Women's football also goes from strength-to-strength with each term that passes, after the introduction of a league system last year. Vanbrugh have dominated the headlines so far, but there's a long queue of teams vying for their crown. Another major sport on campus is college rugby, after the league made its debut on campus back in 2012; Halifax who grabbed the title last autumn after years of dominance from Derwent. There's also a one-day college rugby sevens tournament during the year, and plenty of chances for everyone to get involved. Hockey is the third major sport to feature on the college sport calendar with a regular league system. Benefitting from the brand new JLD AstroTurf which was replaced only last May, hockey enjoys a similar structure to football with its own league and College Cup. James were the team to beat in the league last year, boasting a 100% record in spring.
Apart from these sports, however, there are tonnes of others to get involved with, including basketball, netball, badminton, cricket, darts, pool, rounders, table tennis, tennis and volleyball. There are also regular one-day events which first came onto the scene last year, including lacrosse and swimming. Not only are they great fun, but they also have a real competitive edge and are some of the most enjoyable events on the sporting calendar. This all culminates in the College Sport Day in summer term on 22 Acres, when (in theory), the sun is shining, the ice cream van is out and you can't move for bouncy castles and assault courses. Alcuin College were the champions last year, after edging out Vanbrugh at the death. We're hoping that the athletics track, which we understand coming soon, will be ready in time for next year's big clash.
Skill level doesn't matter - it's just a great way to have a bit of fun and keep fit, whilst also retaining some of that much-needed competitive spirit that fits in so well with uni life. A range of sports are played in the College Sport system, meaning there's something for everyone to dip their toes into. Teams compete in leagues, and all of the points for every college team is totted up by the folks at College Sport to create an overall College league table. James College topped the table last year - is it someone else's turn to celebrate in 2014/15?
Plenty more information is available on the College Sport website.
University Sport at York
[flickr-slideshow tags="unisport1213" caption="Images: Agatha Torrance, Petroc Taylor, Lily Grant, Philippa Grafton"]
A whole range of York teams compete in BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) leagues against other universities up and down the country, usually on Wednesday afternoons. Donning the Black & Gold colours of York is a real highlight for plenty of students during their time at University, especially if they have a particular passion for their sport. We might not be known as the brightest lights on the University sporting scene here in North Yorkshire (in football terms, we're more of a Birmingham City than a Manchester City), but there's no doubt that we're going places, and now is an exciting time to join the journey at York. York start this campaign on the back of our best showing in the BUCS league for a decade after Cass Brown, York Sport President's #Top40 campaign, leading to a final placing of 38th in the national table.
That might not sound too impressive, but it's a huge improvement on the last few years. And with some really ace teams and exciting times ahead, York is a great place to be for sport at the moment. Most importantly of all, York finished ahead of our fierce rivals Lancaster. For the benefit of Freshers: that's a big deal. Last season, York teams earned 11 promotions across the board and are looking to do even better this year. Amongst the highlights were both the men's and women's lacrosse firsts, who won promotion and also won their cup competitions; the men's football firsts won promotion and made it to the cup final, the netball firsts clinched promotion, and the men's rugby firsts had a superb debut season in the Premier League. As with the previous year, the men's futsal side were the real headline-makers. They finished second in the Premier League, won promotion in the FA National Futsal league and made it to the semi-final of the FA Futsal Cup - that's some achievement! University sport isn't limited to BUCS leagues though; with over 60 teams in a huge range of sports, clubs including snowsports and VX can enter teams into regional and national competitions, often coming home with hoards of silverware.
As for the range of sports on offer, there's no limit to the amount that you can do at York. No matter how seriously you want to play your favourite sport, you'll be able to take part your own level and pace. That isn't just for the sports that most people have heard of like badminton, hockey, tennis and rugby, to name but a few. Smaller sports clubs from a wealth of other diverse sports such as darts, octopus and York's newest sports club VX (you might have to Google that one, but York's club is run by one of the sport's greatest international players).
The entire sporting calendar resolves around one pinnacle tournament that takes place early in the summer term - the Roses tournament against Lancaster University. Roses is named after the historic 'War of the Roses' between the York and Lancaster families. The rivalry is fierce, competitive, and most of all, great fun. The tournament is the biggest of its kind in Europe, and sees the two Universities come together in Summer Term for a monumental number of events over three days, for the chance to win the Carter-James Trophy. Unfortunately for us, it was Lancaster that won last year on their own patch in the tournament's 50th anniversary. However, we're at home this time around, and York haven't lost a home Roses in 30 years. We can guarantee that the White Rose will be back with a vengeance, going out to reclaim the trophy we last won emphatically in 2013. The atmosphere will be electric and an excitable buzz will reverberate around campus, regardless of the result.
Once the year's sporting action is done, things are wrapped up before the end of the year with the York Sport Dinner, where the York Sport Union awards colours and awards to the best sportspeople and teams from the year just passed. Sounds good, doesn't it? If representing the University in sports floats your boat, then be sure to get involved. But don't take it from us, we're just the journalists. See the York Sport Union website for the full list of clubs, and get yourself down to the stalls at Freshers' Fair and trials during Freshers' Week.