Image Credit: The York Sport Committee get their hands on the Carter James Trophy
Going into the opening Friday, the White Rose already had a slim lead, following whitewashes in the Cross-Country and Kendo events the weekend prior. However, there were concerns that York’s Netball 1st VII might struggle against Lancaster in the Opening Ceremony’s showcase event, facing off against a team they hadn’t beaten for over fifteen years.
These fears soon evaporated in the York Sport Arena, where an electric atmosphere guided York to a sublime 52-32 win in front of a packed crowd in which they displayed Netball of the highest quality. This was Lancaster’s lowest ever points total in a Roses Netball clash, and by far York’s largest. The atmosphere and result of the Opening Ceremony certainly set the tone for the rest of the weekend.
Just hours after the party and impressive Roses Festival complete with performances from many of the University of York’s best performing arts societies and a stellar firework display at Greg’s Place had ended, the weekend’s intense competition resumed. Sailing kicked off the Saturday action, with York victorious in both the Open 1st and 2nd events out at the Beaver Sailing Club.
The home side won 28 of the opening 40 fixtures, extending their lead to over fifty points by 16:00 on Saturday, at which time last year the outcome of the tournament was all but known already.
Lancaster were certainly not giving away the Carter James Trophy without a serious fight though, going on to record big wins in the Fencing Women’s, Handball Men’s, Squash Men’s 1st, Football Men’s 1st and Men’s Hockey 1st on Saturday evening to keep things extremely tight.
The evening events of Saturday was perhaps the most exciting period of the entire weekend, with a series of 4-pointers going right down to the wire. University Challenge was won by York on a deciding question after a 265-265 draw, Darts Men’s 1st survived a late resurgence from Lancaster after winning four straight legs to win that one 6-3 in a very rowdy Roger Kirk Centre, and the Basketball Men’s provided the Arena with another rip-roaring match. In the Arena, York won 87-80 in overtime after Lancaster missed two free-throws with 1.3 seconds left on the timer in regulation time. It perhaps didn’t eclipse the crazy Opening Ceremony comeback of 2017 but was still enough to send the York Sport Arena wild.
Just 28.5 points split the two Roses at the close of Saturday’s proceedings, leaving the outcome very much in the balance as everyone got their heads (and/or drinks) down in preparation for a huge Sunday.
There were a huge 24 separate events started on Sunday morning alone, including Badminton, Climbing, Archery, Canoe Whitewater and some College Select Netball. York managed to win 14 of them, providing a great base for the attentions of fans to turn to the 22 Acres where Rugby of both variations took centre stage.
The first Rugby events of the day were both won by Lancaster. The Red Rose took four points in the Rugby League fixture by a score of 10-24, simultaneously notching another two in Rugby Union Men’s 2nd with a 7-16 win. Ballroom Dancing Mixed came to their rescue, negating the six point loss with a four point gain for York, winning their event 4-0.
At the midday stage of the day, the outcome was still in the balance but looking likely to be a home win, as the gap between the two Universities had widened to 37.5 points, York just 19.5 shy of an overall victory.
York’s Women’s Cricket side put up a large target of 180 for Lancaster to chase down in 30 overs, sealing a win with some fine bowling keeping the Lancaster score to a minimum, the Red Rose’s score standing at just 14/2 from the first 11 of the second innings, which was more than enough to see them home to four points.
At 13:30, the Rugby Men’s 1st fixture got underway amidst a plume of yellow smoke from the crowd in what was the best atmosphere that the 22 Acres saw all weekend. An incredible game was won 24-23 by York, after the two sides went blow for blow, each losing and regaining the lead several times. York’s kicker sealed the huge home win with a crucial penalty scored just two minutes before the final whistle, showing resolve after Lancaster scored what everyone thought to be a crucial try just moments beforehand.
As the crowd settled down, the Snooker sealed the deal over in Fulford. York’s narrow 4-3 victory on the baizes of the Fulford Conservative Club took York’s total over the 177 threshold needed to win, placing the Carter James Trophy into the hands of York Sport Union President Zac Sheppard <span class="colour" style="color:rgb(34,34,34);">who gratefully replied to</span>
the news via text with University of York Pool & Snooker Club President, Calum Goodwin, declaring “you’re a beautiful man who just won us Roses!!!”
With the result decided, all that was left was the small matter of York’s Women’s Rugby 1st XV, who were both recently promoted to become York’s only Premier Division team and crowned as Northern 1A Trophy champions, to close out the tournament in style.
And some style it was. Within three minutes, three tries had been scored and York led 19-0. This obliteration was a pattern that refused to be swayed, York eventually winning the shortened game 91-0, a decision perhaps taken out of mercy for their Lancastrian counterparts. Had the full 80 been played as York wanted, a three figure score would certainly have been the final outcome.
Zac Sheppard lifted the trophy aloft, complete with several white roses and champagne filling it up, as York once again became Roses champions in one of the tournament's greatest ever years. The Carter James Trophy is back where she belongs. Roses are once again white.
All images taken by Luke Snell