Leicesters Victorious Varsity Season
2016 has been yet another successful Varsity campaign for Team Leicester, winning 35-12 against local rivals De Montfort across 47 fixtures over a three month period.
On Friday 24 June, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Paul Boyle presented Sports President at the University's Students' Union, Ofure Ugiagbe and Ayesha Hamilton, Student Development Officer, with a shield in a celebratory event on the Fielding Johnson Lawn.
Professor Boyle said: “I’m incredibly proud to present the overall Varsity trophy to Team Leicester following another hugely successful competition for us. We have seen some incredible performances, not least the men’s and women’s rugby teams, who did not concede a single point at Welford Road plus clean sweeps across the Basketball, Netball and Fencing fixtures. I would like to congratulate every single student who played their part both on the field and behind the scenes, your dedication and commitment have once again shone through.”
Ofure said: "As the student representative for sport within this institution I'm immensely proud of this year's varsity season. There have been some emphatic results from a performance perspective, such as the Hockey, Rugby Union, Mountaineering, Netball and Basketball - to name a few. All our clubs work extremely hard all year round in their BUCS, university and local leagues, and it's a wonderful opportunity for them to showcase this hard work at ground level with a greater recognition from the wider student body. I was honoured to captain the Women's Rugby team to another varsity victory, extending our undefeated streak, and as a Team Leicester member Varsity is without a doubt the highlight of the year.
"For me, the really positive thing to take away from this year's varsity season is the way Team Leicester represented itself as one collective. It's often easy to focus solely on your own club, but the level of support at the fixtures was really encouraging. With our #winwithpride Varsity season, all the clubs were involved in some aspect- whether that was raising money for LGBTQ+ charities, wearing rainbow laces, attending our forum, or simply raising awareness. Promoting a positive image of Team Leicester has been high priority for myself and the sport executive team this year, but creating an inclusive and discrimination free culture has been paramount; it was great that we could use our varsity success to further reinforce this aim. I look forward to attending varsity next year as a spectator as oppose to a player and relishing in that atmosphere."
Full Varsity Round-up by Paul Robbins, Team Leicester (Sports Coordinator)
American Football set the tone by winning 28-0 on 21st February, ending a tough year for the Club on a high. The overall Varsity lead continued to grow and at one point, Team Leicester were 11-0 up after wins for Taekwondo, Trampolining, all three Basketball teams, both Men’s and Women’s Fencing, and what has since been dubbed ‘Super Sunday’ where all five Netball teams stormed to victory on 6th March.
DMU fight back ... briefly
De Montfort briefly fought back with wins in Mixed Hockey, as well as both Men’s and Women’s Football 1st teams. Nevertheless, wins for Ultimate Frisbee and both Men’s and Women’s Badminton regained momentum for Team Leicester.
Some of the more traditional Wednesday afternoon fixtures were predominantly scheduled to take place on Wednesday 9th March, the busiest day of the Varsity season. However, the torrential rain had other plans as 7 of the 16 fixtures were postponed, including the titanic Rugby Union clashes at Welford Road Stadium. This was the first time that these fixtures had been cancelled, adding a dramatic and unpredictable twist to the Varsity programme. Despite the heavy rain, Leicester’s performances shone, winning 6 of the 9 fixtures that did take place. A 10-0 thumping by Mens Squash was the highlight and proved that every cloud has a silver lining!
The Ski & Snowboard Club backed up strong individual BUCS performances this year on Friday 11th March to take the overall lead to 22-7. Saturday 12th brought 9 more fixtures and with fairer weather, some outdoor fixtures in the form of Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse were eagerly anticipated. Neither team disappointed and maintained their unbeaten Varsity runs. A team far more suited to the wet weather earlier that week, the Swimming Club were in action too, winning a close contest in recent years in the Men’s but narrowly losing in the Women’s competition.
Performance of the year
Arguably the performance of this year’s Varsity programme came from the University of Leicester Boat Club in the most traditional event of all Varsities. Despite substantial financial investment in their Rowing programme this year, DMU were comprehensively beaten. Leicester continued their good form throughout the early season, winning both the Senior and Novice events. Wins from Men’s Futsal and Men’s Tennis enhanced the lead and brought the overall score to 28-9. It was on this day that the Varsity crown had been sealed for yet another year.
As the season started to come to an end, University of Leicester Men’s and Ladies Hockey along with Mountaineering flourished under the expectation of winning.
The Easter holidays brought a period of calm to the Varsity season and allowed for postponed fixtures to be rearranged. Men’s Rugby Union 2nd as well as Mens Football 2nd, 3rd and 4th played on the first Wednesday back of term three at Stoughton Road Playing Fields. The additional two weeks preparation for DMU due to the earlier start of their semester proved particularly advantageous as they won all three football fixtures, whilst the traditionally one-sided Rugby fixture was a much closer affair with Leicester taking a narrow 17-14 win. The overall Varsity score at this point was 32-12 to Leicester.
Both Rugby 1st XVs were back in action on 11th May for the rescheduled game at Welford Road. On another cold and wet day the Women’s team played first, starting at the earlier than usual time of 6.15pm to allow a full 80-minute game, something which had not occurred before in previous years. This was yet another show of support for the University’s HeForShe campaign, of which Women in Sport has become such a fundamental value.
After their highest ever finish in their BUCS league, expectations were very high for the Women’s Rugby team. The 53-0 demolition that ensued was still somewhat unexpected and was both a record-winning margin and the first time over 50 points had been scored in the Women’s Varsity fixture.
During the 25 minute interval between the Women’s and Men’s games, a torrential downpour came which briefly threatened a repeat of the March postponement. However, the dramatic weather only added to the intensity of the atmosphere and Leicester Men’s Rugby Union were in control for the full 80 minutes, ultimately winning 34-0. The defensive strength of both the Men’s and Women’s Leicester teams also meant that this was the first time in history that De Montfort had not scored a single point in either Rugby fixture at Welford Road.
You may have expected a Cricket fixture on a warm Friday in late May to have created a tranquil atmosphere for the final Varsity fixture of the year. However, the T20 Cricket proved to be a thrilling climax to the Varsity season as Leicester retained the Varsity trophy after some entertaining batting, disciplined bowling and superior fielding. The result finishing with a Leicester win by 25 runs.
With the Varsity season now over, we celebrate this year’s successes and look forward to facing our rivals again next year!
Final Varsity score: University of Leicester 35 - 12 De Montfort University