By Matt Roberts
7:00am – First coaches leave Maiden Castle.
10:00am – The action gets underway on York’s Heslington West Campus.
10:50am – Durham secure the first win of the day, a tight 3-2 victory in the Women’s Rugby B game for Cuthle, the combined Cuthbert’s and Castle team.
11:00am – York pick up their first points of the day in the women’s football A as Alcuin beat Grey 2-0. Shortly after, the spoils are shared between Vanbrugh and Butler, with both colleges earning half points after a 1-1 draw.
11.30am – Castle show their class in the Lacrosse B match, withstanding an honourable fightback from Halifax to come through 16-6. In the tennis, there’s a clinical win for a very strong Collingwood outfit.
12:15pm – Vanbrugh edge John Snow in an absorbing basketball B match in the Main Hall. A breathless final quarter saw the visitors close the gap, but to no avail. Three more points to York.
12.25pm – More disappointment for Durham in the football as Langwith come from behind to beat the Stephenson Rangers 2-1 in a scrappy encounter. The visitors had lost just one match all season but missed a host of chances in the second half, including a penalty which was tipped over the bar.
1:00pm – The scoreboard begins to turn predominantly gold as York start to dominate. First, Alcuin clinch a well-deserved 2-0 victory over Aidan’s in the Hockey B game, scoring both goals before half-time and seeing out the remaining minutes without alarm. The same York college then win 5-3 against Chad’s in the squash. Moments later James beat Hild Bede 22-7 in the Men’s Rugby B game, although the match is marred by a couple of unfortunate injuries to the Durham side. Finally, Langwith steal the points in the tennis B game over Mary’s, with their second seeded pair coming through a decisive championship tiebreak 10-4. The hosts have the momentum.
2.00pm – Two important wins for Durham just before the lunch break. The combined Mildert and Butler team – Milbut – make it two from two for the Palatinates in the women’s rugby. These results were all the more impressive considering Durham had to adapt to York’s rules and play touch rugby. In the main hall, a pulsating and heated basketball A match goes the way of Ustinov over Derwent. At half-time, York have a slender 24.5-22.5 advantage.
3.00pm – With the overall contest evenly poised, the Varsity enters a crucial passage of play. Of the nine 3pm fixtures, six of them are A games and worth five points each.
4.00pm – The first afternoon scores bring misery for Durham as James beat Van Mildert 3-0 in the Volleyball B game and James thrash Grey 69-25 in the Netball A.
4.20pm – Some much needed good news for Durham as Hatfield win the hockey A game 5-1 over Goodricke. The ever-reliable Collingwood then beat Derwent 35-25 in the netball.
4.25pm – Langwith win two of the decisive final three matches to beat St Cuthbert’s 6-3 in the badminton B fixture.
4.40pm – The formidable Collingwood win their third match of the day, dominating Wentworth 8-0 in the squash to bring the overall score level. 35.5-35.5.
4.45pm – A seismic shift in York’s favour as they earn 10 valuable points across two sports; a depleted Aidan’s rugby A team lose 27-10 against a Derwent side boasting a number of university players before St John’s go down 9-5 to James in the lacrosse A game. All of a sudden, York lead 45.5-35.5 and the magic 53 point mark is in reach for the hosts.
4.50pm – Honours even in the men’s football A game between Castle and Halifax as the Durham college twice come from behind to draw 2-2.
5.00pm – With York leading 48-38, they’re just one A game away from winning their maiden College Varsity crown. It’s all perfectly set up for Wentworth in the volleyball who haven’t lost a game in two years.
5.30pm – Wentworth take a two set lead in the volleyball. St John’s, and Durham, need a miracle.
5.40pm – YORK WIN THE COLLEGE VARSITY! A service fault from St John’s gifts Wentworth the third set in the volleyball and York earn the five points required to give them an unassailable 53-38 lead.
5.45pm – Unaware that York have sealed Varsity victory in the tent next door, Mary’s badminton brilliantly win the final three matches to beat Halifax 6-3.
6.00pm – The York party begins with a booze-fuelled finale of darts. The hosts have enjoyed fervent home support throughout the day and the atmosphere inside the Roger Kirk Centre is electric.
8.10pm – ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY! Trevelyan’s James Wilkinson throws a magnificent maximum but the Hexagonal college succumb to Vanbrugh 6-1 in the darts B game.
9.45pm – Castle produce an admirable fightback against Derwent to win the A team darts fixture 4-3, earning Durham the final five points of the Varsity and bringing the overall score to 56-48 in York’s favour.
10:00pm – Final coach leaves York.
REACTION: COLLEGE SPORT COORDINATOR, SOPHIE BINGHAM:
“College Varsity 2016 delivered an excellent day of competition. Whilst victory eventually went to the hosts, the 312 Palatinates who travelled to York put up a brave fight. We won the A team matches 37.5-27.5 but the battle was lost in the B team games with the finest margins often going against us; St Mary’s tennis losing out on a tiebreak and the relentless Stephenson footballers missing a penalty for example.
Nevertheless, our teams did well to adapt to Varsity rules. The hockey and basketball teams played a mixed format alien to the Durham programme and our ever growing women’s rugby programme – represented by Milbut and Cuthle – proved that they were masters of the touch game too, with both teams comfortably overcoming their York opponents.
The Varsity day did so much to raise the profile of College Sport and the camaraderie of our athletes was admirable. We just failed to do the job in York’s back yard, but I have no doubt that the scoreline will look very different back at our fortress in 2017. The Palatinates will be ready to get that trophy back.”
Photograph: Team Durham