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Term Review: York's best and worst performers

From the excellent Men's Volleyball to the meandering Women's Football: Nouse Sport reviews review York's fortunes in Autumn Term

UYFC stalwart Tom Leach delivering a corner. Image: Luke Snell

THE UNIVERSITY IS on course to break back into the top 40 in the BUCS rankings for the first time in three years. This is down to successes across a range of sports, highlighting the variety of talent on display at the University. The six sports that earned York the most BUCS points last term were volleyball, table tennis, fencing, badminton, rugby union and lacrosse.

As a new term begins, there is much to look forward to, with more BUCS fixtures throughout the next three months, and a trip to Durham for Varsity on 24 February. Volleyball isn’t a sport too many are familiar with on campus, but they have certainly made their mark so far this season, earning an incredible 75 BUCS points. The men’s side lead the way in their division (Northern 2B), and face Teeside in their next two fixtures who are bottom. If they maintain the level of performance they displayed last term, then they will surely return to the Northern 1A division at the first time of asking, following their relegation last season. The women’s side have also had a fantastic campaign so far, winning five of their six games. They sit three points behind league leaders Durham, who they will host in mid-February.

York’s table tennis squad have picked up 69 BUCS points this sea-son, with the women’s side leading the charge in the Northern 2B league. They’ve lost just one game so far, an agonisingly close defeat at the hands of Leeds back in November. On Saturday 9 February, the University will host the final round of games for the season, as York look to secure their second promotion in three years. The men were promoted last season up to the Northern 1A league, and look set for a solid, mid-table finish on their return. Beating Durham 15-2 in mid-October is undoubtedly the standout result of their season so far.

Fencing was made one of the University’s focus sports last term, and it’s obvious why. York have earned 60 BUCS points, and the men’s side are top of the Northern 2B league, on an unbeaten run that stretches back to March. The women’s side sit in fourth position in their return to the Northern 1A league, a respectable position given the quality of the other sides in their division. With more financial support from the University, the next couple of seasons look set to be filled with success for the club.

The Men’s Badminton side have reinvented themselves this season, offering much more excitement, determination and flare as they look to return to the Northern 1A League following their relegation last year. They are the league’s only unbeaten team, and have a game in hand on leaders Newcastle, where a win would put them on top.  Unfortunately, the women find themselves in a relegation scrap this term, having lost five of their six league games.  Nonetheless, they have still contributed substantially to the 60 points badminton has earnt for York’s BUCS Ranking.

The strength of Women’s Rugby has been widely documented over the last 18 months, and rightly so. You would have to go back to 1 March 2017 to find the last defeat the team suffered.  Last term, they scored 63 tries, but conceded just five.  Away from home, their dominance has been staggering.  York have notched up 259 points on their travels so far this campaign, more than the number of away points the other teams in the division have achieved combined.  Promotion is imminent, and there are few more deserving sides.  Yet, for all the understandable publicity around the women’s side, the men are having one of their better seasons in recent years. They’re second in the Northern 2B league, having lost five of their games so far this season. York’s men ended last term with a 22-0 destruction of Sheffield.  Hopefully, they can carry that through to the second half of the campaign.

Forwards of the UYWRUFC 1st XV prepare to defend. Image: Luke Snell

Other teams that deserve praise for their consistent, impressive performances include Women’s Lacrosse. They began the season fantastically, brushing aside the likes of Sheffield Hallam and Liverpool with ease. Although they ended the season with a defeat to Leeds and crashed out of the cup after a dreadful performance against Sheffield, they remain top of the Northern 2B League. Their next two fixtures are against Durham and Newcastle, the sides directly below them in the league. Wins against their Northern counterparts would be huge, as they look to return to Division 1A at the second attempt.

The Women’s Tennis team are unbeaten so far this season, yet somehow aren’t top of their division. However, if they maintain the quality they’ve exerted in their matches so far, promotion to the 2B League is a real likelihood. The American Football side may have only played three games this season, but they’ve won all three. Edinburgh top the division but must visit Heslington at the end of January in a first versus second clash. The Men’s Water Polo and Women’s Futsal teams have also had exciting campaigns, both sitting second in their respective leagues, and with real chances of promotion.

Of course, there are teams who didn’t perform well enough last term. They will have to improve quickly, not only to win BUCS points for the University, but to save themselves from relegation. Both the men and women’s football sides have had disappointing seasons so far. The men are rooted to the bottom of the Northern 2B league and are the only team in the division without a win. To make matters worse, 2018 was their most disappointing 12 months in eight years. It isn’t much better for the women either, who won just once through-out 2018, and have the worst goal difference in their division by quite some way.

There are teams that didn't perform well enough. They will have to improve...

York’s Ultimate Frisbee side have played four matches this season and lost them all. Although they have just won promotion, they face an instant return down to the Northern 2B league unless they drastically improve their performances. The Men’s Rugby League side have also lost all their games so far this season, and only inflicted one defeat throughout 2018. For all the joy the men’s water polo side have provided, the women’s team have lost four of their five games thus far, including 23-2 and 22-2 thrashings at the hands of Liverpool and Northumbria.

Men's Water Polo in action. Image: Luke Snell

As the main BUCS leagues continue throughout the upcoming term, there are a host of other sporting events taking place over the next two months. The annual cross-country and Indoor Athletics Championships take place in February, with one of the strongest squads in years set to contend. Fencing, badminton and swimming also have major competitions. Students from York will be attending these, where medals are likely to be won. Rowing, Korfball and Archery also have important competitions, where BUCS Points are available, and where the University will hope to push on to try and break into the top 40.

The annual Varsity with Durham University will take place in February, with York facing a tricky away trip north, against one of the best sporting institutions in the country. Rather than University teams, the fixtures involve the best colleges in the respective sports, as Durham has a rich history of college sport too.

The qualifiers between York’s colleges will take place on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 February, with the main tournament itself played out on Sunday 24 February. Durham returned to the North-East empty handed last February, as York won only their second varsity since the competition began.

However, home advantage will certainly favour Durham this year, and York will need to perform significantly better than last time, when they were comprehensively beaten.

Hopefully, York can continue to impress throughout the next few months and deliver a finishing position in the BUCS Rankings that everyone can be proud of. The 2014-15 season was the University’s best in recent memory, when York finished 37th overall. Leicester occupy this position at the moment, just over 100 points ahead of York.  However, with a huge number of league and cup games still to play, a top 40 finishing position is certainly a possibility. 

All statistics in this edition are accurate as of Saturday 19 January 2019.

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