By Olivia Goddard
Varsity 20 is set to be unforgettable as tickets for its first event, the boxing, sold out after just an hour and a half of going on sale.
Now, with the release of the official Varsity 2016 trailer, it must mean only one thing…Sheffield Varsity is almost here.
Sheffield is celebrating its 20th Varsity, a fortnight of sporting fixtures that sees Sheffield Hallam and the University of Sheffield battle it out to be crowned champions of the Steel City, in the biggest university sporting event of the year.
A full fixture list of all programmed events will be made available shortly on the Sheffield Varsity web page.
Megan Tiddy, second-year law student and University of Sheffield cheerleader, featured in this year’s Varsity trailer along with a selection of the other 35 sports clubs that compete during Varsity.
After winning Varsity for three consecutive years the University of Sheffield feel confident that they will be taking the trophy home for the fourth year. Of course Hallamers are also keen to knock Uni of off the top spot this year.
The University of Sheffield’s Sports Officer, Flic Wilbraham said: “It would be the best thing to win Varsity for the fourth year. It will be my fourth Varsity and I don’t want to lose any in my time at Sheffield. Hallam retained it for nine years in a row before that.
I’m most looking forward to the boxing, as I’ve never been before, the final Ice Hockey event and collecting the trophy on the ice (when we win!)”
Sheffield Hallam Sport & Physical Activity Officer, Emily Wilkes agrees that Varsity is the best time of the sporting year: “It’s something I can’t put into words. It means so much to win Varsity as a competitor but in my role of Sports Officer it just means so much more. I definitely day dream of lifting the trophy at the final at least 10 times a day.
Ice hockey is one of my favourite events. I’ve never experienced anything like it – it’s great seeing all the teams come together and show real Hallam pride.”
Last year the University of Sheffield took the title, but it was a close call for them, just scraping a win of 37-34.
On January 1, Sheffield students left for The Alps in the first string of Varsity events. Despite the poor weather conditions, the event ended 1-1, with Hallam taking the points from snowboarding and Uni winning the skiing 2-0. The rest of the events were cancelled due to the weather and will be taking place on Tuesday March 12 in Castleford indoor slope.
Watch the official Varsity trailer here:
The 35 sports that take place in the fight for the steel city have been training hard for the past year. A few club captains gave us their thoughts on the upcoming Varsity games…
University of Sheffield Captain Elina Helavuori
“I started basketball when I was 8 years old – we had a couple of older girls come to my school and promote weekly basketball sessions. I quit basketball for 4 years because of other interests but then decided to trial for the university team and have absolutely loved it.
I am really looking forward to the Varsity atmosphere and how all uni sports teams come together and support one another.
During the run up to Varsity I usually work on my fitness more, try to go to as many training sessions as possible and avoid drinking. I think that’s the same for most of our players but some take it more seriously than others.
Our 2nd team will also play in Varisty but their game doesn’t count towards a point as they are not in the BUCS.
It will be an extremely difficult game for us as Hallam 1st team is two leagues above us and has scholarship GB basketball players on their team. Our team is a lot better than in the past two years but we could still be described as the underdogs, simply because of lack of experience.”
University of Sheffield Captain Will Swarbrick
“I have been playing golf for almost 20 years now – I first picked us a gold club pretty much when I was able to stand up!
This will be my fourth Varsity event, I have played every year I have been at university and I am hopeful that we can continue the winning streak against Hallam.
Because of work commitments and the fact that the weather throughout the winter is not that great, we try and get out to practice very Sunday as a team. Away from uni, we all try to play as much as we can throughout the week in order to prepare ourselves. We don’t have a strict schedule of training, so its up to individuals to try and play when possible.
The standard of golf that has been played in the previous three years has been exceptionally high and Hallam have some very good golfers in their team. They have been promoted from their BUCS league, so we will be playing them in that next year too.
We have been lucky to have some good golfers join us in first year and I would like to par particular thanks to Graeme Sutcliffe, Alex Bacon and Joe Bates who have come into the team and made such a positive contribution in their first year.
Their form suggests it will be close this year but I am confident. Spirits are high in our team this year and as this is my final Varsity, I am particularly keen to go out on a high.”
University of Sheffield Captain Chris Taylor
“I have been boxing for nearly two years and I am fighting in this year’s Varsity. It will be my third official bout.
If I could guarantee a victory for myself and the club then obviously that would be what I look forward to the most! But to be honest as it stands I am personally most looking forward to a much less strict diet, drink and exercise regime!
You can’t really combat the nerves, it will always be an intense experience even if it is just a spar infront of 5 people – you are pitting yourself at another human being and that is always a nervous/exciting feeling.
The nerves seem to dissipate after the first punches have been thrown and you settle into what you got in the ring to do. Personally my nerves calm after I have both received and landed fairly hard shots as I am confident I can hurt the guy and I am no longer anticipating ‘that first’ big hit.
Boxing is THE most fitness intensive sport there is. It is a useful way to vent frustration, it teaches one of the most simple and practical forms of self defence and like most combat sports it disciplines you and teaches you respect both for yourself, your peers and your opponents. And its incredibly fun to be on the right end of a punch too!”
Tickets for the boxing went on sale on February 24 and sold out within one and a half hours of being on sale. The big fight is to take place on March 9 at the Octagon.
Men’s Rugby Union
Sheffield Hallam Chairman Rory Forward
“I’ve been playing rugby for around 14 years now and this will be the third Varsity I’ve taken part in.
In the run up to we have more training sessions to make sure are fitness levels are at their best. For us, nutrition and sessions at the gym become a massive priority for us to make sure that when it comes to our performance we’re more than ready.
University of Sheffield Captain Jack Rowson
“I’ve been playing rugby for about 12 years now and this will be my second Varsity event, however a lot of people have just picked it up at university.
A typical week consists of training Monday and Friday, a game on Wednesday and strength and conditioning sessions Friday mornings and sometimes Sundays.
Running up to Varsity we focus more on skills training and fitness, with a lot of agility work, basically polishing up our moves.
We’re a very close team and work together really well, so it is hard to point out a stand out player, however, Marcus Stock has had a very good season reaching the England University training squad, so he will be one to look out for.
It will be a tough game against Hallam as they are in a higher league, but as we proved last year we are more than capable of winning.”
University of Sheffield Captain Stephen Dodsworth
“I’ve been playing basketball since I was 14 and I have played National League for my local club for four years before coming to university.
This will be my second Varsity, I played in my first year but missed last season because due to ligament damage in my knee.
The intensity and physical nature of the game during Varsity is always much higher than normal league games which makes it great to play in. Playing in front of such a large crowd is also something to look forward to as we barely get the opportunity to do so.
The squads have quite dramatically changed since season with several key players graduating and two of the first team players suffering season ending ankle breaks just before Christmas.
Realistically it’s unlikely that either team will win, mainlky due to injuries in the first team which has meant some of the second team players have been moved into the first. But we are hoping to keep it close and make them work for a win.”
The most popular fixtures are likely to be:
- 9th March – Boxing, 7.30 pm
- 13th April – Sports Park day (Football, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Cricket and Archery)
- 14th April- Golf and Ice Hockey 2s
- 15th April – Athletics
- 16th April – Rowing, Sailing and Darts
- 17th April – Triathlon, 10K, American Football and Trampolining
- 18th April – EISS day (Netball, Basketball, Table Tennis, Volleyball and Futsal) and Equestrian
- 19th April – Abbeydale (Hockey) and Hallamshire (Tennis and Squash)
- 20th April Finals day/Goodwin day – Hockey, Lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee, Badminton); Ponds Forge day (Swimming, Waterpolo, Canoe polo, Korfball and Ice Hockey 1s Final event at the Motorpoint Arena at 8pm.