For the Universities of Huddersfield and Bradford, an annual Varsity tournament represents the biggest sporting competition of the academic year, where fierce rivals battle over the course of a variety of sports, ultimately aiming to lift the coveted Varsity Cup.
This year Huddersfield finally relinquished their tight grip on the trophy, narrowly losing to Bradford 12-10 in a closely fought encounter in West Yorkshire. Our wonderful array of sporting teams and talent had achieved the impressive feat of winning Varsity for three consecutive years leading up to the April meeting, but unfortunately, a fourth success on the spin wasn’t to be.
Nonetheless, the event of Varsity has always been about much more than just a final score, it is a festival that brings together the diverse population of students here on campus in Huddersfield as well as our neighbours at Bradford. The Vice-President for Student Activities at Huddersfield Students’ Union, Matt Wheelton, was tasked with the organisation of the event with Bradford, and he deemed Varsity 2014 a success despite having lost the contest.
He said: “I’d say it was a success, yes. Losing is obviously horrible, especially having won it the previous three years but with university sport I’d say that winning definitely isn’t everything. I’m a very competitive person but there is much more to it than the actual win. Varsity commemorates all the hard work that is put in throughout the year so I’d say it was a major success.”
On the day, 22 sports were contested across different areas with supporters and students able to flutter around the various venues in order to support their athletes. Coach travel to Bradford was provided from the university and it contributed to a great atmosphere on the day with everyone in good spirits.
Matt said: “It was brilliant, a really good day. It’s nice to see everybody pull together and having everyone supporting the university as a whole as opposed to just one specific sport. Everyone pulls together whether they’re a sportsman, a friend of a sportsman or just a student at the university- collegiality is really important.”
The day of competition traditionally ends with the men’s Rugby Union match, which can decide who takes the title should the scores not already be settled. For many it is the main showpiece of the event and as such attracts a big crowd of fans and well-wishers to get behind their boys, and this time around it was no different with our lads running out 23-21 winners to the delight of the visiting contingent.
However, despite it not being enough to secure an overall victory, Wheelton confirms that the spirits remained high off the pitch, he said: “The rugby was brilliant. It was really lively but sadly the result had leaked before the final sport which kind of curtailed our support a little bit but it was still really good and a great atmosphere.”
Overall the ten teams who are to be congratulated for having won their respective matches were the Women’s and Men’s Badminton, Volleyball, Frisbee, Squash, Tennis, Men’s Football, Climbing, Basketball and lastly Rugby Union in the big Varsity finale.
Win or lose, the fact remains that every team plays their part in this event, and so many of the encounters were so tightly contested that sides had to lose in a heart-breaking fashion. In fact, Wheelton’s greatest success story for Huddersfield does not come from a team that won, but rather the Women’s Rugby Union side who were so impressive in defeat: “Women’s Rugby definitely is a success story because we didn’t have a team a year ago, and for them to be brave enough to go and play against Bradford who have quite a developed team is a magnificent success. They didn’t win but they had the bottle to turn up and play on the day and that is what sport is all about, it’s being prepared to lose and not saying we’re going to win every game. It’s about risking losing in order to win.”
For those of you who missed out on the big event, you were deprived of some exuberant hosting from Bradford who put on fireworks and a sizeable presentation to mark the occasion appropriately. However, next year Varsity will be back on home soil with Huddersfield ready to take vengeance for what was a rare defeat.
Maybe it was just Bradford’s turn this year, but they’ll be lucky to find their rivals in such a generous mood next time around as the proposition of reclaiming the cup is already beginning to wet the appetite of those who are ready to make amends.
Wheelton said: “Yeah definitely we can’t wait, it’ll be a home fixture too, which I think has stimulated the Vice-Chancellor a bit as well. I think the university want to make it a better spectacle which can only be a good thing. Everyone wants to win every year they can, unfortunately only one of the two universities can actually win it.”
A full list of results can be found on the Students’ Union website at: