By George Bond
Durham University’s college sports sides are set to welcome teams from York University on Sunday February 26th for a hotly-anticipated intramural varsity event across 16 sports. Being a single university city, Durham is denied the opportunity for a local, cross-city varsity that the likes of Leeds and Sheffield enjoy. Instead, Durham utilises its good relations with universities across the country, such as the recent BUCS varsity against Loughborough.
Whilst the Loughborough fixtures allowed Team Durham sides to showcase their abilities, Durham are also eager to emphasise the importance of college sport, being one of the cornerstones of sporting life at the university. York are one of few other collegiate UK universities, with 9 colleges to Durham’s 16. This annual event, which has taken place in each of the last three years, is currently led 2-1 by Durham, although with last year’s event seeing York emerging victorious, there is a keen desire to exact revenge this time around.
The selection criteria for the teams to represent Durham aimed to include the top two sides from each sport, whilst ensuring that each college received fair representation (see right for full list of teams). Unsurprisingly, given their five consecutive years at the top of the college leaderboard, it is Collingwood who lead the way, sending five teams to represent Durham, followed by St. Cuthbert’s with four. Events will take place across the Durham campus from 10 am to 7 pm on the day, beginning with squash, volleyball and women’s football, before rounding off with the darts, a final which will take place at the DSU. This will be followed by the announcing of the day’s results, before a presentation ceremony. Durham students are encouraged to attend throughout the day for much-appreciated support, with York set to bring a party of more than 400 players and supporters to Durham.
Durham’s best chances of success are likely to come from the nine sides currently holding 100% records in their respective leagues going into the event. Five of these come from badminton, including St. Cuthbert’s teams in all three formats, as well as Grey’s men and the mixed team from Stephenson. The other four sides are Van Mildert football, Hatfield and Collingwood rugby and Josephine Butler darts. Jack Coates, the head of college sport at Durham, commented that “Durham vs. York college varsity is a contest played in good spirits, but always including the competitiveness of top level college sport. “With 16 sports and 32 teams competing, this is a brilliant showcase of arguably the two finest intramural programmes in the country going head-to-head. Having lost the trophy last year on York’s home turf, Durham are more than prepared to reclaim the silverware this year.”
Photograph: Team Durham