Spare a thought for your friendly neighbourhood Sports Officer during Varsity – I mean, if you think about it, if the final result goes against us… it’s sort of all on me, isn’t it? Would you want to be the first Sports Officer in three decades to preside over Warwick’s first-ever Varsity defeat? I think not…
Here, then, is a blow-by-blow account of this year’s Varsity to take you through the three most important days in the Warwick calendar, from my humble (alright, not quite so humble after such an overall rout) perspective…
Friday 22nd came much sooner than I anticipated, and all my confidence (dare I say arrogance?) started to take a bit of a wobble. While prep was underway for the opening home fixture, I received the news that GOLF had unfortunately lost their Varsity clash... Cov had taken first blood! The club fared well, but were unable to field their top players on the day, losing 5-1. Still, great to get new talent out there and give them some experience!
WOMEN’S FUTSAL: After some well-worked team movement, ELOISE CRESSWELL snatched the first goal of the day! All was looking bright and happy! The sun was shining, the #TeamWarwick support was loud and mighty…. aaaaaand Cov equalised. The game ended 1-1 and we were down 1-3 in the Varsity standings.
BUT ALL WAS NOT LOST! During the fixture I received news from RIDING President JAIME THORN, that they had managed to secure Team Warwick’s FIRST WIN of the weekend. And not only a win, but an absolute DEMOLITION as we conceded only 183.5 penalty points to Coventry’s 444.5!
While the futsal was going on, our FENCING CLUB was also in action in Desso Hall. The result was nothing to sniff at… with great Warwick support, Fencing went on get the victory convincingly as well, winning the Sabre 45-30 and then the Epée 45-18! Because it was LGBTUA+ History Month, the club also ran a brilliant LGBTUA+ Awareness Pizza Buffet during their fixture, so there really was something for everyone (hashtag Reshaping Sport)!
Then came the MEN’S FUTSAL fixture, another new addition to Varsity this year. After a somewhat nervy 1st half which saw us tied at 3-3, we scored an astonishing 6 goals to take the final score to 9-3… WHAT A MATCH!
As we geared up for our first showcase fixture, news came in from ZACH FLINT that WARWICK SNOW had only gone and won again! All this despite the fact that half of Coventry University apparently had their mums turn up to support…
MEN’S FOOTBALL: In a scrappy conclusion from both sides, the game finished 0-0. Massive congratulations to the team for remaining calm under pressure and digging in deep to attack and defend right until the final whistle. And congrats to Man of the Match BEN COLE as well for keeping Warwick in the game throughout with some terrific saves!
After the game, we heard the terrific news of a SNOOKER Varsity win at 15-5! They’ve now remained unbeaten every time they’ve played Cov, which is a fantastic record.
And then, if that wasn’t enough, I received news from BEN SIMPSON of MOTORSPORT. With the club having had one of their most successful seasons ever this year, they beat Coventry 52-49 using top 10 positions scoring points (F1 style, nothing less)!
Despite not yet hearing from Climbing about their pilot fixture yet, we went into Saturday, comfortably leading 14-4 on points…
Yeah, you know that CLIMBING fixture? Smashed it, 192 – 131! Seven members of our official team got a higher score than Cov’s best climber… says a lot, really! Congratulations to JAMES MABON and WEROKNIKA RASZEWSKA for recording the highest male and female Climbing scores of the day too.
We kicked off Saturday with MEN’S AND WOMEN’S BADMINTON – a story of highs and lows. The Women’s team went from strength to strength, winning 7 matches and conceding only 1. While the Men’s team managed to pick up a couple of wins in the doubles, the singles matches proved very difficult - Cov had a handy lil player who performed really well at BUCS nationals the weekend before, so we knew it would be a tough match-up! Final score: 5-3 to Cov.
Cov then picked up another two points in the MEN’S BASKETBALL. The boys provided an absolutely magnificent atmosphere and a terrific match, losing by just 6 points, 66-72. Despite the close result, the second half saw one of the best Warwick performances of the season, with some spectacular 3-point efforts from CHAD FROST-SMITH (I swear one of them was close to the halfway line…)
The WOMEN’S BASKETBALL fixture was a different story altogether. The girls have had one of the best seasons ever – our undefeated team scored again and again, and by the end of the first quarter we were up by an absolutely stupid amount! This was a team that has gelled beautifully over the year - their teamwork, hustle and desire to score was way too much for Cov, who were eventually absolutely battered 65-37. (Shout-out also to the WARWICK DEVILS for performing their incredible Pom and Jazz routines during the Basketball!)
Meanwhile, we had three other fixtures going on. The SQUASH was literally over before I knew it - one moment I was told “Yeah, we’re just starting”, and then I swear it was just 15 minutes later that I heard: “Oh yeah, we’ve already won… sorry” (apology not required). Squash won their fixture 5-0, with Cov unable to gain more than 6 points in any of the 15 games played. That’s just unfair, really…
TABLE TENNIS were coming off a narrow loss last year (just one match in it!), but made no mistakes this year. President Michael Farmer was smiling every time I saw him, confident in the fresh new talent the club had secured this year. In a best-of-17 match, we won 14-3. Again…not even fair! (Word is that Cov just forfeited one of the doubles matches…)
Meanwhile, the TENNIS was just beautiful. While the men’s and women’s teams could not be having more different seasons, Varsity united the club like nothing else. A little message from ALICE LOVATT informed me what I already suspected: that the Women had won 12-0 without dropping a single set between their singles and doubles matches. And then, just a short while later, another gratifying message informed me that the Men had won 12-0 as well – their biggest win all season!
Over in the pool, things were going SWIMMINGly (sorry, couldn’t resist…). Both our Men’s and Women’s teams gained another 4 points for Team Warwick as we thrashed Cov 148-85. I’m reliably informed that the win came courtesy of some extremely fast swimming courtesy of our relay teams and some fantastic individual performances.
CRICKET made itself a showcase fixture - they had the crowd, they had the music, they even had parents coming up to watch! In the final over, the penultimate ball saw my single favourite memory from Varsity: big man SMASH ABASSI, coming out of retirement for the very last bowl of the innings, whacking a six, and then walking straight off the strip. What. A. Legend! With Coventry chasing a 153 run deficit at this point, there seemed little point in even playing their innings. Warwick’s resolve held strong and the club managed to run out the remaining two Cov players to take the win for the second year running!
The Saturday demolition ended with the VOLLEYBALL fixtures. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: UWVC have some of the best supporters out there! The Women were up first - throughout the entire match, the girls never let their voices fade, and most importantly were laughing and having a good time throughout. This is in direct contrast to the Cov players, who quite frankly looked like they were just sad to be winning. 3-1 may have been the final score, but at least we had the more fun!
If you caught my livestream, you’ll already know my feelings on the Men’s fixture, which was easily my favourite match of the entire weekend. It all came down to the 5th set. Cov took the lead, then Warwick, then Cov, then Warwick… Okay, I’ll be honest: I didn’t know it only went up to 15 in the 5th set for Volleyball. So you can imagine my utter surprise and complete lack of celebration when we reached 15, and started celebrating like mad!
At the end of the day, the tournament score stood at 35-10, with Warwick needing just 1 MORE POINT to win Varsity altogether! Sunday was looking good…
For any Cov supporters who might be reading this for whatever reason, look away now… it gets ugly!
The day kicked off with a spectacularly testy WOMEN’S RUGBY match. Half-time came and the Referee told us what a pleasure it was the ref such a match, to which we felt wholesome. At the final whistle, it was 24-17 to Warwick!
VARSITY. WAS. WON!
However, like I said to clubs at the beginning of the weekend, we didn’t just want to beat Cov…we wanted to absolutely humiliate them. And boy, oh boy, did they deliver!
I then headed over to the astro for our LADIES’ HOCKEY fixture. This was to prove a much cagier affair than last year’s 8-0 drubbing! Sports Officer-elect CHARLOTTE LLOYD’s pace was causing all sorts of problems for Coventry, stretching their defence and allowing space for other players to move into. It was clear who the better team was, and this was made even more obvious when HANNAH FRENCH managed to slot home a second goal to wrap things up before the whistle blew.
The MEN’S HOCKEY was up next on at the astro. A solid 2-0 win for the boys was brilliantly summed up by this gem of a tweet: “Sorry for not chanting more, we find it hard to get excited over routine wins”.
Over at the WOMEN’S FOOTBALL, our attacking trio of Dani, El and Annie were causing Cov problems all sorts of problems, and the girls were unlucky to have a goal disallowed. They were even unluckier when a missed Cov penalty was ordered to be re-taken, leading to a 1-1 draw at full time. We won the stats battle though, and that’s what really matters…
Owing to Cov unable to field a Men’s team for LACROSSE, it was just the Women who had the chance to bring home the win at Cryfield. And bring it home they did! Now, it must be known that our girls had not lost all season, so they very kindly played a team mixed of Development, 3s and 2s players! Final score: 12-9 to Warwick!
And then, probably the biggest result of the entire weekend: the RUGBY LEAGUE. For 5 long years, Coventry had remained unbeaten. This time though, it was Warwick’s turn! As I joined the game midway through the second half, we were over 50 points ahead…FIFTY! And it didn’t stop there, as Warwick continued their surge, scoring twice more in quick succession. It was truly a team effort - as I heard later from ex-President, Jordan Keane: “That was the best we’ve ever played. Ever.” When all was said and done, Warwick had won 77-10!
Our Men’s RUGBY UNION team were more than ready for their fixture, having been training for it for 2 years after Cov didn’t want to play us last year (for reasons that still remain unclear). Warwick can commend themselves on remaining strong at the back, only allowing Cov to get 5 points all game - the final score of 27-5 was hugely satisfying, and the biggest win in this fixture since 2006!
As we bring our day of points galore at Westwood Heath to a close, there’s just enough time to talk about the brilliant 15-5 win from ULTIMATE FRISBEE, together with our off-the-pitch sports. ATHLETICS saw the park run deciding where the points went, ending overall in a draw. POOL was a standard procedure by all accounts - with a brilliant season behind them featuring cups and medals galore, the club’s hunger ended in a 22-8 win for Warwick! And of course, we cannot forget about our fantastic BARBELL club. The Men’s team performed brilliantly; an even better feat considering that some of them (Blake Davies) were given less than 24hrs notice that they were competing! As for the Women… well, we were just a whole lot stronger! A monumental effort from the club saw them win every single flight, and the scores averaging out at 444-361 to Warwick!!
And then it was finally time for the Varsity finale: the NETBALL. Coming off a home loss in the same fixture last year, the club were out for blood – as the match began, Warwick immediately scored! And then we scored again! And again… What was going on? Were Cov even on the court?! In the second half, brilliant teamwork in defence held Coventry to just 11 goals, as we scored another 6 ourselves to take the final score to 45-30…
All of which meant… Warwick wins Varsity 2019, 55-13: OUR BIGGEST WIN IN HISTORY!
A MASSIVE thank you to all the staff involved in making this fantastic weekend happen, and I’d also like to recognise the extraordinary hard work that went on behind the scenes with student-run societies who helped with hyping up the event and for all the post-event content! The Boar and RAW have been magnificent; Jack, Luke and Pablo, thank you for all your support in this event, and to Tim Nunan for (as always) capturing some great pictures throughout the weekend!
Most importantly though, congratulations to all the clubs and athletes that took part in fixtures – and to those of you came along to support, a huge thank you on behalf of all the clubs for helping make this year’s Varsity one of the best ever for #TeamWarwick!
(in another 4 months or so!)