By Matt Roberts
Durham vs Loughborough on Wednesday 25th November is no ordinary day of University sport. It’s been christened a Varsity and it will have all the hallmarks of one – jam packed, competitive and hectic. However, in truth, it will be so much more than that.
Durham and Loughborough have topped the BUCS Points table every year since 2011/12 and it’s for that reason that the day takes on such significance. It will be a celebration of top-level University sport, crucial in the outcome of this year’s Premiership divisions and a veritable feast of sport for enthusiastic spectators.
Sadly, with so much going on, it’s impossible to see it all. But fear not, here’s our guide explaining the places to be and the times to be there for the must-not-miss matches across the city.
09:40 – Mixed Golf. What better way to start the day than a leisurely stroll across Brancepeth Castle Golf Club to watch the two BUCS giants do battle down the fairways? The 6,400 yard, par 71 course was designed by world famous golf architect Harry Colt and is recognised as one of the top 100 courses in Britain. Its defining feature is a deep ravine cutting through the course to provide a number of challenging tee shots. The last two meetings between Durham and Loughborough have been closely contested with one win each.
13:00 – Men’s Football and Women’s Hockey. Once you’ve watched the opening pair play the front nine at Brancepeth, it’s time to head to Maiden Castle. The epicentre of Durham sport promises to be buzzing for two huge lunchtime matches. On 3G1 it’s the men’s football and on the water base it’s women’s hockey. As is the case with most Durham vs Loughborough games, both fixtures have historically been very tight and the same is expected again this year. Try to catch the key moments of both if you can.
15:00 – Women’s Lacrosse. Having caught your breath and visited the café to get yourself suitably refreshed, head over to 3G2 where Durham’s high-flying women’s lacrosse team are in action. In this fixture last year, the Palatinates ran out 6-4 winners as they topped the Premier North division and won the Championship. The women’s lacrosse side are one of Durham’s most successful teams so don’t miss out on the chance to see them play a fierce rival.
17:00 – Women’s Football. With the sun setting and floodlights illuminating Maiden Castle, attention will turn, once again, to football and this time Durham’s women on 3G1. Last year, Durham beat Loughborough 3-2 in the quarter-finals of the BUCS football championship before going on to win the competition. A repeat of that five-goal thriller could make this the game of the day.
19;00/20:00 – Water Polo/Basketball. The day comes to an end away from Maiden Castle. At Freeman’s Quay from 19:00, both women’s and men’s water polo teams are playing. If you are not familiar with water polo, this is the perfect opportunity to watch it up close. It’s impossible not to be impressed by the speed of the game and in awe of the strength and stamina of the players. Alternatively, hop on the bus and head over to Queen’s Campus for some Premier North division men’s basketball. An end-to-end, fast-paced match between two BUCS heavyweights will be the perfect dénouement to a wonderful Wednesday of sport.
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Photograph: Simon Carey