College sport became university sport on Sunday 2nd March in the inaugural Durham-York Varsity event. Durham’s best college teams travelled to York to take on their best in eight different sports in sixteen matches.
The sports involved were men’s and women’s football, men’s rugby, mixed basketball, mixed volleyball, netball, mixed hockey and mixed doubles badminton.
Considering Durham’s much more well-established college system, the contest was much closer than many anticipated, with York taking it to the final match.
With five points for an A match win and three for a B match win, Durham led 14-3 at the lunch-break before a strong afternoon performance from York brought them back into the contest. With a win in the final game, Durham clinched victory 37-27 with nine wins to York’s seven.
Palatinate spoke to York’s sport president Cassandra Brown and Durham’s head of college sport Tom Newman to get their thoughts on the day’s events.
How did you feel the event went overall?
CB: For the first event of this kind, I thought it went very smoothly. We could have done with some nicer weather but it can’t be helped! It would have been great to have a larger programme of fixtures to get even more people involved, but inevitably as it was the inaugural tournament, we have to start off smaller and expand from there.
TN: It was a great success! We won which was great and it gave us a chance to give our college teams the chance to show what they are made of and go up against some really tough competition.
What did you make of York’s performance?
CB: I’m absolutely delighted with our performances, which are testament to York’s fantastic and ever- growing sport programme. The Durham sides got off to a flyer in the morning, but we had an amazing comeback in the afternoon. Getting a draw would have been fantastic, but overall we’re happy.
TN: I wasn’t expecting it to be as close but all credit to York they were brilliant. The thing we didn’t really anticipate was that they play their mixed sports normally, so they play well as a team. Watching the basketball, they were a very tight unit and they knew what they were doing whereas we had never played together before.
Did any performances stand out in particular?
CB: There were so many amazing performances but my favourite result was the badminton A game between Wentworth and Josephine Butler. It was so intense, and York just managed to win by the narrowest of margins.
TN: I was impressed with everybody really and we came home with a nice load of silverware which is great! I was really impressed by Trevs volleyball and both our rugby teams were fantastic and very professional. I had never seen the standard of our college badminton but I watched their games and they were very good.
York had a special qualification weekend to work out which teams would take part whereas Durham just took the top two from each league. Did one method work better than the other?
CB: I don’t know if it was better, but ours was intended to give the top four sides from each of the winter leagues the chance to play, so that they could prove they were the strongest side from each sport. The qualifying weekend also served as a great opportunity to build up hype about the main event.
TN: I think rewarding the top two teams is a good way of doing it. We only came up with the idea in October so by the time we had finalised things it was a bit late to tell the captains because they were already half way through the season.
What can we expect from next year’s event, due to be held in Durham?
CB: It definitely has the potential to become an integral part of the sporting calendar for both York and Durham. It’s such an exciting and unique event, the first of its kind in the country to provide this sort of platform for college sport. We’ve started off relatively small, but I have no doubt that it will snowball year on year, elevating the status of college sport and establishing what I hope will become a highly anticipated rivalry between York and Durham.
TN: It was good to see how they planned it out and how we’ll do it differently. We will put a few more fixtures on with more sports, and put them on together as well. We will also try and maybe do individual sex rather than mixed. We will shorten the day as it was quite long day for everyone there, and our facilities allow us to do that.
Photograph courtesy of College Varsity 2014