By Matt Roberts
When it comes to University sporting rivalries, Durham vs Loughborough surely sits on top of the pile. The pair have dominated the BUCS Points table every year since 2011/12 and this season has seen the two sides meet across a series of Varsity events.
While the previous two competitions had involved the two BUCS powerhouses facing off in Premiership fixtures, last Saturday’s event pitted Durham’s colleges against Loughborough’s halls of residence at Maiden Castle.
Durham, having beaten Loughborough 13-2 and 8.5-7.5 earlier in the year, came into the day looking to complete a trio of wins. However in this shortened, college format, Loughborough proved too strong.
The visitors got the first point of the day courtesy of Cayley’s 3-1 win in the men’s football over Collingwood.
Durham hit back, however, through Hild Bede’s impressive netball side. The team asserted their control from the start against Elvyn Richards and were comfortable throughout in a 56-24 victory.
That proved to be the high point for the hosts, though, as Loughborough won four of the remaining five fixtures.
In the men’s rugby, Loughborough’s Royce were the victors against a rather depleted St. Aidan’s side. The final-score of 32-12 was a fair reflection of a match in which St. Aidan’s clung on for 65 minutes whilst never really looking comfortable against a side who undoubtedly deserved to win on the day.
The day’s two basketball matches, which were played simultaneously, turned out to be polar opposites as spectacles. Whereas Ustinov’s women lost in a low scoring contest, the men’s game between Collingwood and Falkner Eggington was a lively affair, full of momentum shifts. After a strong first half, Durham held a slender one point lead. But before long, Loughborough went up a gear, establishing a nine point advantage and maintaining it until the final whistle to prevail 48-39.
In the penultimate match, men’s hockey between Hatfield and Cayley, Durham conceded an early goal and never recovered as Loughborough romped to a resounding 9-0 win.
The women’s hockey players fared much better, overturning an early 2-0 deficit to lead 3-2 at half time. Now well into their stride, Aidan’s controlled possession and extended their lead to 4-2 before the visitors added a late consolation.
Defeat for Durham means the Palatinates have now lost each of their College Varsity events of 2016, with Saturday’s setback coming two months after a first ever loss to York back in February.
Nevertheless, College Sport Coordinator Sophie Bingham remained upbeat:
“I was really impressed with the efforts put in by all the Durham sides on the first weekend of the final term and with exams looming.’
“This was the first event of its kind and we want to see it grow to the scale of York Varsity. We hope to travel there next year and look forward to adding women’s football and rugby, both of which are real strengths of our programme.”
Men’s Football: Collingwood 1-3 Cayley
Men’s Rugby: St Aidan’s 12-32 Royce0
Netball: Hild Bede 54-26 Elvyn Richards
Men’s Basketball: Collingwood 39-48 Falkner Eggington
Women’s Basketball: Ustinov 13-29 Telford
Men’s Hockey: Hatfield 0-9 Cayley
Women’s Hockey: St Aidan’s 4-3 Harry French
Photograph: Team Durham