UoN win the Nottingham Varsity Series for a sixth year running

Article written by Joe Tanner, Impact Magazine’s Sports Editor originally published on Impact.

The University of Nottingham have won this year’s Nottingham Varsity Series, defeating Nottingham Trent University 12-9. The victory, sealed at Sunday’s Women’s rugby union with a 21-7 win, sees the Green and Gold triumph in the Series for a sixth consecutive year.

30 sports were played across two weeks of action before and after the University’s Easter break, in the largest Series there has ever been. The University of Nottingham were victorious at men’s and women’s volleyball, women’s futsal, women’s lacrosse, Super Wednesday (UoN), netball, water polo, mens and women’s hockey, women’s basketball,  Super Wednesday (NTU) and women’s rugby union, over the course of  14 days of sporting action in locations across Nottingham.

While there were narrow defeats in some of the high octane encounters like ice hockey and mens basketball, the Green and Gold won the majority of events across the series for the sixth year running. The achievement is a testament to the sheer depth and extent of sport on offer at the University of Nottingham, the number and quality of the sporting participants, the continual progression in the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) leagues (where UoN currently stand in third) and the common goal of retaining glory for the Green and Gold against our cross-city counterparts.

The increasingly closer scoreline is a credit to Nottingham Trent’s progression in sport over the last few campaigns. NTU have climbed up to 13th in the BUCS rankings this year, a new high for the university, accumulating a 51% win rate. They are also implementing the sports scholar scheme adopted now by so many institutions across the UK. Only on Sunday, nine of their men’s rugby union players were selected to play for next season’s Nottingham Rugby squad.

2017/18 SU Sports Officer Adam Pratchett was delighted with this year’s Varsity and expects it to be even better next year. “What an incredible series! From the spectators to the staff and competitors, this has been an amazing series with UoN yet again coming out on top.”

“It was great to see David Ross Sports Village being used to its full potential on Super Wednesday with so many sports in such close proximity. This year we’ve seen the addition of new sports and continued to grow the Varsity offer. In particular I want to highlight Wheelchair Basketball which was part of Trent’s Super Wednesday this year and is our first fully inclusive Varsity sport.”

“I am incredibly excited about Varsity 2018 and I can’t wait to start work on it. From my involvement with Varsity Basketball it is clear how much time and effort goes into organising the events and I hope to carry on their amazing work. I want to thank Lauren Heria and Matt Nich0lson, along with all the staff at UoN and NTU for all their efforts. I hope Izzy and I can carry on their great work. I’m going to do my best to make Varsity 2018 bigger and better than ever.”

 The path to victory

The series took a different format this year with the sporting contest split across two separate weeks instead of the typical single block of fixtures that we have been previously used to. It all kicked off on Saturday 25th March when Trent took an early lead through a narrow 18-22 victory over the Green and Gold in rugby league.

Two wins for UoN in volleyball at Clifton Campus saw Nottingham gain a 2-1 lead the day after. The David Ross Sports Village then played host to its first ever varsity fixtures, two enthralling futsal matches at the new facility.

Kayla Kret heroically brought home the victory for UoN after her penalty to make it 2-1 in the shootout after a 0-0 draw. While in the men’s match, everybody in the crowd thought that Sam McGrath’s strike had done enough to take the game to extra time at 5-5; but a left-footed thunderbold with twenty seconds left from Trent’s Sichone made it an agonising 5-6 defeat for UoN Futsal.

3-2 it stood going into the fourth day, and a win and a defeat for UoN’s Lacrosse teams continued the Green and Gold’s slender lead at 4-3. Super Wednesday then saw the David Ross Sports Village utilised to it’s full capacity, with nine different sports taking place on one day, including handball, canoe polo, and archery. UoN brought home the point, winning 10-0 on the day to bring it up to 5-3.

Then came the big one on 30th March: Ice hockey at the Motorpoint Arena. 7,000 fans packed into the venue to witness an enthralling win for Trent as UoN’s captain Luke Watson starred in a gallant defeat for the Green and Gold. 5-4 it ended in that match and 5-4 was the score overall as we entered the Easter break.

Such a close scoreline was to be short lived, however, as action resumed on the 7th May with convincing 55-27 and 23-4 victories in netball and water polo.

Two narrow victories for hockey the day after were also followed by a massive 62-56 win for UoN team of the year Women’s Basketball 1s, as sportswoman of the year Ellie Bishop starred in a fantastic victory capping off their dominant season.

The score stood at 10-4 going into the men’s basketball match, and despite wonderful performances from James Wilson and Patricio Zapata, the Trent army came back to win 70-80.

NTU’s Super Wednesday then saw us retain the Varsity series at 11-5 with an 8-2 victory on the day in sports such as wheelchair basketball, tennis and horseball. Just one more point was needed to clinch and officially win the series, but this proved elusive with two defeats at tMeadow Lane for UoN’s women’s and men’s football teams, losing 1-0 and 2-0 after so much endeavour from both sides.

Cricket was then abandoned on May 12th due to poor weather conditions, (we will bring you immediate updates on any news of the fixture’s rearrangement). The score remained 11-7 though as UoNAF embarked on the new battleground at Harvey Hadden to face the NTU Renegades. A close game finished 12-25, with Trent increasing their lead only late in the last quarter.

The green and gold(en) moment came as the UoN Women’s Rugby Union team clinched the Varsity Series yesterday getting the University’s total up to the 12 point mark with a 21-7 victory at Lady Bay. Scenes of jubilation rang all around the Nottingham Rugby club after the double-winning victory. The men’s team were unfortunately defeated by a ruthless NTU side 34-13 to leave the overall score at 12-9.

The 12-9 victory represents another dominant year for the University of Nottingham. It has also been a fantastic one for a series which saw more university sports on show and higher attendances than ever before. With UoN and NTU continually progressing in the BUCS leagues, the standard of student sport on show is higher than ever as is the number of competitors.

The venues with matches played across Nottingham and the respective university campuses have been as impressive as ever. From Meadow Lane to Harvey Hadden, The Nottingham Varsity Series has become a massive Series of events for not just the universities or Nottingham but for the East Midlands and beyond. People were listening to University Radio Nottingham’s broadcast of the Varsity Ice Hockey from as far away as Russia!

A massive congratulations must go to the respective UoN and NTU Students Unions for the organisation of the series and to everyone who took part in it. It was a two week period to be proud of for organisers behind the scenes as well as competitors on the pitches, courts and ice, spectators in the arenas and stands and those following from afar.

Images courtesy of Impact Images.

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