York win 'Virtual Roses' and raise over £4000 for charity


The Virtual bonanza saw a great weekend of sporting challenges and fundraising

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Image by Luke Snell and Lancaster SU (Edited by Malu Aversa and Jonathan Wellington)

By Patrick Hook-Willers

After Roses 2020 was cancelled as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic, many would have been thinking that this year would see there be no contest between York and Lancaster for the first time in the tournament’s 55-year history.

However, thanks to the herculean efforts of York Sport Union President, Maddi Cannell, and sabbatical officers from Lancaster, a ‘Virtual Roses’ equivalent was put together to fill the void left by the usual tournament and bring a much-needed weekend of togetherness to the student bodies of both universities.

The night before the virtual bonanza was due to get underway, this year’s trailer dropped to gee up supporters currently dispersed around the globe.

Day One saw events including ‘Kayak Craft’ for the Canoe Polo clubs, ‘Long Shot’ for Archery clubs to test their aim into a cup, ‘Fancy Fencing’ for the Fencing clubs to fence with household objects, and ‘Absolute Scenes’ for each Men’s and Women’s Rugby clubs to recreate their favourite rugby moments without any rugby equipment allowed.

Cycling and Athletics were on the agenda later on Friday morning with each sport competing in their own respective 5 mile and 5km time trials, which were both won by York. Friday afternoon saw ‘The Great Handball Bake Off’, ‘Hockey Trickshot’, ‘Footminton’ and ‘Knots, Knots and more Knots’, the latter being a test of the Sailing Clubs’ abilities at tying bowline knots.

There were several other events filling up the Friday schedule before the Opening Ceremony, which in usual circumstances was likely to be Football, as was the case at the last away Roses in Lancaster back in 2018. The virtual replacement saw live performances from Emily Millard, Lancaster’s brass quintet, clarinet choir and chamber choir, Hamza Dalvi performing spoken word poetry, Lancaster’s VP for Activities Victoria singing some songs with her guitar, and a very special collaborative effort from both York and Lancaster’s comedy groups in their show ‘Talk of the Devil’.

Day Two started with York in the lead by 50 points, with another full day of activities on the cards, which included inventive task like ‘Tennis Uppies’, as well as more serious events like FragSoc leading a largely unaffected Gaming event, as well as the Roses staple of Darts, expertly live streamed around the world remotely.

On Saturday, Head of York Sport Keith Morris also cycled the distance from York to Lancaster on his old spin bike declaring that “nobody wants to see a 51-year-old man in lycra, so please give generously”. People did give generously, with Keith raising 336% of his £300 target, totalling £1,010 for his chosen charities The York Food Bank and Mentally Fit York. Keith’s fundraising page is still live and you can still donate here.

Maddi Cannell set herself an even tougher challenge in the name of Roses and of charity, by climbing the equivalent elevation of the UK’s ‘Three Peaks’ challenge on her stairs at home. For reference, that is 11,182 feet, or 799 trips up the stairs!

By the end of Day Two, York remained in the lead with an even healthier margin between them and the Red Rose, leading by 213 points, the scoreline reading York 823 – 610 Lancaster.

At the conclusion of the weekend after Sunday’s activities, which included a Vice-Chancellors’ ‘Roses Merch Creation’ challenge, won by York’s own Charlie Jeffrey, as well as the ‘Doctor Who Challenge’ between Doctor Who societies, the ‘Frisbee Catch Relay’ for the Ultimate sides and many more. . .York were crowned victorious!

The final score stood at York 2337 – 1971 Lancaster.

Although it is nice to reaffirm that #RosesAreWhite, the highlight of the weekend is certainly the triumph of community spirit that the Roses tournament encapsulates. For one weekend every year, two universities go against each other to celebrate sport, and student bodies join together with collective pride for the university community that they have the privilege of representing.

This community spirit within the University of York raised over £4300 for charity, 430% over the original target set by York Sport Union, with many of York’s biggest sports clubs taking it upon themselves to launch their own #RosesAreBlue campaign in support of the NHS. This saw club members up and down the country, and all around the world, completing tasks, runs and swims to collectively raise money and do good for others in this time of crisis.

The University of York Netball Club contributed £1,453, Women’s Rugby notched up £670, UoY Hockey Club donated £425.00, with Women’s Cricket raising £527, while York Polo Club raised £160 and York Uni Ultimate

Congratulations must go to everyone that took part in making this Virtual Roses such a success, but in particular congratulations and thanks must be sent to Maddi Cannell. 11,000 feet and we expect a similar number of hours went into organising this, and while we all wish that circumstances were normal and Roses 2020 had gone ahead as usual, York’s sports clubs still got the chance to prove that Roses are indeed white.

To donate to York Sport Union's 'Virtual Roses' campaign, clickhere