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Varsity countdown begins

York take on Durham after 2021 cancellation

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Image Credit: Rueben Hodson

AFTER A YEAR BREAK, College Varsity will be back in less than three weeks time. The annual Varsity series will showcase the most successful sports teams from the institutions’ colleges in a series of action packed sports events, and this year it is to be held at the University of York. YUSU runs it as “the pinnacle of college sport, where local rivalries are put aside for one day only as colleges come together to represent their university.”

On 6 March 2022, 32 fixtures will be held on the university campus in which the ultimate goal will be to earn points for York. The winning institution will be the team who earns the most points a er all the sports have been played. It is a competitive and historical affair, as all varsities across the country are. Oxford has Cambridge, Birmingham has Warwick, and York has Durham.

York’s maiden varsity took place in 2005 with York St. John before being replaced with the University of Hull in 2011 to make it more competitive. e event was labelled the “White Rose Varsity” due to the proximity with Yorkshire as well as the event being a prelude to the main varsity “Roses” event in the summer term, which is a varsity inspired by the medieval war between the white rose of York and red rose of Lancaster.

In 2014, York decided to change its varsity opponents again — this time to Durham — due to the acrimonious relationship between the two universities Sports Unions and disappointment over the lack of competitiveness of competition. Hull’s new varsity opponents became the University of Lincoln in a series of sports challenges they call “The Humber Games”.

York trail Durham’s overall varsity record to just a single win, winning three editions to Durham’s four. But the hosts have won every edition of varsity barring Durham’s away win at the very first varsity in 2014. Can York level the score for the very first time?

It will no doubt be a difficult task. Home advantage taken into account and with York’s most successful varsity yet taking place in 2020 with a 76-47 victory, York are favourites.

Varsity qualifiers in York, which will occur on the weekend of the 12-13 Feb, ensure that only the best represent the University. For Rugby, Netball and Football, the qualification process involves the top four teams in the top division in which a semi-final and final takes place. The winner then represents the University against Durham. Similar means of qualification take place in the remaining 13 sports. This makes sure that York always puts up a strong performance and ensures that the competitive nature of the event is protected. But just how strong are Durham?

Durham has one of the most comprehensive sports facilities in the country. They have 16 colleges, 18 different college sports, 85 percent of students are involved in sport either as a player, official or coach, and they have over 700 teams in their college structure in comparison to York’s 150. Their 2020 varsity consort were evidently their weakest yet in the contribution as it was York’s was biggest margin of victory in the competition, however with the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, most of the 2020 participants will not be competing in the 2022 edition.

This means that it really is all up in the air. York did win the 2020 edition by a significant margin, obtaining 76 points to Durham’s 47, and York does have the home advantage – but Durham is renowned for its sporting facilities and highly competitive sport culture.

Varsity is always a competitive event. There are few opportunities at university to represent your college against other universities. York and Durham’s collegiate systems make it one of the only intra-college varsities outside the Oxford and Cambridge edition. Durham also appear to be our toughest opponents yet, with the chance to equal the all-time score for the first time ever, this year’s Varsity will be a special edition if it were to go York’s way.

It looks to be a competitive day of sporting fixtures at York — so make sure you get down to the 22, the tennis bubble, the 3G or wherever any of the sports you fancy watching are taking place, and support the Black and Gold!

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