This year will mark the 21st annual Varsity clash between rival universities Warwick and Coventry. Having never been defeated by our neighbours 2011 promises to be hotly contested as last year was the tightest in the competition’s history, with Warwick winning 36-34 overall. It really did go down to the wire, as Warwick men’s Rugby (Union) clinched the winning points in the final Varsity clash, having won the match 21-12.
For those of you who have never come across Varsity before, it is the showpiece event in the Warwick University sporting calendar. The Universities of Warwick and Coventry have a long-standing rivalry due to the proximity of the two educational institutions, and in 1980 decided to pit their best sporting talent against one another in a tradition that has continued to this day. Athletics, Badminton, Cricket, Hockey, Football and both Rugby Union and League are the most commonly contested sports, but American Football, Basketball, Netball, Swimming, Tennis and Volleyball are also involved.
The majority of fixtures are taking place on 16 March 2011, some in Coventry and others on the Warwick campus, whilst some fixtures have already been completed. The clash between Coventry and Warwick’s top men’s Football teams promises to be an enthralling encounter as it is the last match played, and may even be the decisive fixture as the men’s Rugby proved a year ago.
The Badminton teams were extremely successful in 2010, winning all three of their matches, whilst Hockey won all their games. Men’s Rugby Union won their two matches including the dramatic finale, and men’s Tennis remained undefeated. With last year being the most closely-fought Varsity ever, it must be considered the most compelling year in Varsity’s history. Over the past two decades, as I’m sure you will be reminded repeatedly over the next few weeks, Warwick has never failed to defeat their rivals. In recent years the University has won fairly comprehensively: in 2009 Warwick won 41-27, in 2008 the score was 42-20 and 48-12 in 2007. The fact that the 2010 victory was by the narrowest of margins has ensured that the clash of 2011 has been even more eagerly anticipated than usual.
For each fixture, two points are up for grabs for the winner, whilst the spoils are shared if the result is a draw. With 35 fixtures to play, Warwick competitors and fans will be desperately hoping it doesn’t go down to the last match again! The last two matches will be taking place at Butts Arena as part of the traditional “Varsity finale”, and will include the women’s first team and the men’s first team against their corresponding opponents from Coventry.
It is customary for the “Varsity finale” clashes to be watched by a few thousand students from both Warwick and Coventry, developing a fantastic atmosphere of friendly rivalry. Be sure to cheer on a Warwick team this year in our attempt to maintain our proud unbeaten record!