Maiden Castle awaits as York come north for Varsity



After the success of last year’s inaugural College Varsity Day against York, the white rose university shall be coming north on Sunday 1st March as Durham play host to a multi-sport extravaganza at Maiden Castle.

Varsity logo

Following a similar layout to that of the Festival of Sport (Durham’s own inter-college sporting feast), the competition will feature twelve sports, with the first and second placed teams from the College Premiership tables representing their respective university.

Due to Team Durham’s remarkable success in the leagues during the past decade – especially compared to other universities in the northeast of the country, Durham’s recent superiority has made the concept of a Varsity contest impractical. Although York already take part in the Roses Varsity against Lancaster University, similar circumstances to those of Durham saw York’s previous Varsity match, the White Rose Varsity against the University of Hull, come to an end after just three years, with York questioning the organisation and future of the event.

However, this new venture looks set to thrive, with Tom Newman, College Sport Manager, optimistic about the future of the event.

“There is absolutely no reason why College Varsity shouldn’t become a constant event in the college sporting calendar. The event was a huge success at York last year and we are hoping to showcase what we can offer up in Durham on March 1st. As awareness grows, I would hope that teams view being selected to play in College Varsity equally as prestigious as representing Durham in competition.”

With all sixteen colleges to be represented in at least one sport, the day promises to be one to remember. With the 2015 introduction of mixed squash, mixed lacrosse, women’s rugby and mixed darts to a fixture list that already includes men’s rugby, men and women’s football, mixed hockey, netball, mixed volleyball, mixed basketball and mixed badminton; Durham and York are pulling out all the stops to establish this particular Varsity competition amongst the very best.

Kicking off at 10:00am with badminton, women’s rugby and lacrosse, the sheer breadth of facilities at Maiden Castle means that every sport shall be played on site – unlike the more disjointed setup in York whereby the competition took place all across the city. The carnival atmosphere shall be enhanced by Spotify’s presence as music providers for the event, all-day entertainment, as well as food vendors and Maiden Castle’s bar.

Among the star attractions on the day will be Josephine Butler C as they fly the flag for Durham’s darts team in the Maiden Castle Café. The darts event, originally suggested by York, is sure to capture the attention of fellow students. Scheduled to be amongst the final events to reach a conclusion, a bumper crowd is expected in anticipation of the closing ceremony.

The event will, of course, have much to live up to after the thrilling conclusion to last year’s dramatic comeback from York. 32-14 down with just 32.5 points needed for victory, York won the next 13 points to sit on the brink of one of the most stunning sporting revivals. However, Van Mildert held their nerve in the deciding basketball match, claiming the six points on offer to give Durham victory.

If Sunday 1st March can live up to the excitement levels set by last year’s drama, Durham will have pulled off one hell of a show.

Newman is optimistic that Durham can outdo York’s 2014 efforts both in organisation and, of course, in competition.

“Our goal is to retain the silverware”, he reminds me. “It is, after all, the way we like to do things at Durham. We will always enter into this event as the favourites, based upon our reputation as a top sporting university. Last year’s competition was, in fact, far closer than I had perhaps naïvely imagined so we cannot approach this year by underestimating York!

“I am confident in the strength and depth of our teams and I hope that with the home crowd supporting us, we will be able to pull through. I would urge everyone in Durham to venture down to Maiden Castle to support our athletes in what promises to be an exhilarating day of competition.”

Photograph: Team Durham

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