By Nick Friend
Durham University’s title as Sunday Times’ Sport University of the Year is the result of a huge amount of exceptional work from students and staff alike. The consistency that sees the University challenge the likes of Loughborough at the top of the BUCS league table on a yearly basis has been key. So too, have been the facilities – from the state-of-the-art rowing apparatus to the numerous water-based hockey pitches and the video analysis suites.
However, one area that has gone somewhat unheralded is the College Sport system. Under the stewardship of Tom Newman, now in his second year in the role, the system has gone from strength to strength. Over 90% of students take part in College or University sport at some level.
When the prestigious Collegiate Way conference was held in Durham last month, the officials present attended a College Rugby match to be introduced to the competition.
Crucial to the system’s success is the competitive element offered to those of any standard. Along with league tables for each individual sport, there is an overall ranking system, judging Colleges both on collective number of points over the year, but also on the number of points collected per student in the college.
While the former is more conventional in sporting circles, it does not always present a fair reflection of colleges, given, for example, the size difference between colleges such as St Chad’s and current leaders Grey. The latter rating gives a greater understanding of how each team is doing. It is loosely based on the BUCS League Table, offering different numbers of points for Cup competitions, with league points varying and depending on the division.
Currently, Collingwood sit second in terms of their collective number of points, but are sixth when considering the success of each participant. Meanwhile, by virtue of their smaller student intake, St John’s are lying in 14th position but, in terms of points per student, are just one place below Collingwood.
As well as the points table, a crucial innovation has been the revamp of the website. With league tables and results now updated ‘as they happen’, the process has become far more manageable – for both administrators and students alike. So much so, in fact, that the Team Durham website has been the subject of envy from other institutions.
Both captains now input their result in order to create a result archive for each individual team at the University. It also allows students to view a breakdown of points per sport for every team in their college, allowing students to evaluate the successes and failures of each season.
Tom Newman, a fundamental part of the site’s progress, said: “I am incredibly proud and excited by the new system, which will, without a doubt, enhance college sport for years to come. College sport is our flagship participation program and is part of what makes Durham so unique and special.”