Leicester retain Varsity trophy for 25th consecutive year!

Posted by nats2 at Mar 28, 2017 10:55 AM |
Read the full story of the dramatic Varsity 2017 series

‘What an end to this game, what a Varsity match!’ exclaimed the Galaxy Radio presenter above the screams of over 3000 University of Leicester students following Dan Taylor’s last minute winning try on Wednesday. This moment of pure elation for players and supporters alike capped off one of the most exciting and intense Varsity series in recent memory.

Following last year’s convincing win for Leicester one might have expected a similar affair in the 2017 Varsity series. Team Leicester had enjoyed a record breaking season, with multiple league wins, sensational cup runs and looking likely to achieve our highest ever BUCS ranking. However De Montfort too had experienced a successful season following their significant investment in sport, similarly claiming league and cup wins and a surge up the BUCS tables.

Having already gained 2 points in Equestrian De Montfort extended their lead to 3-0 after claiming a close victory in Trampoline. Men’s Futsal were looking to close the gap; and looked set to do so leading 4-2 at half time. De Montfort came out flying the second half and brought the scores to 4-4 within a matter of minutes. Leicester eventually regained control and ran out 8-4 winners, Captain Alex Murphy commenting ‘the crowd are what carried us over the line’ in the tight match. At the end of the first day of fixtures Leicester found themselves 3-1 down to a fired up De Montfort.

Futsal Varsity collage

Saturday 18th March saw a new event join the Varsity series in ‘Clash on the Courts’, a full day of sport where Volleyball, Badminton and Basketball all competed at the Leicester Community Arena. Women’s Volleyball found themselves in a dead heat, drawing 2-2 as they headed into the all-important last match. To the delight of the crowd they emerged 3-2 winners after a spectacular final performance. Women’s Badminton unfortunately could not follow suit, despite their spirited efforts DMU proved too clinical and attained a 7-1 victory. Men’s Volleyball unfortunately lost out 3-0 to a strong, and significantly taller, De Montfort side. However, Leicester enjoyed more success across in Men’s Badminton in a 5-3 triumph. Elsewhere, despite their best efforts, Archery regrettably fell short of the mark as De Montfort claimed another point in the series.

Arena morning collage 2

Hundreds of students began to pour into the Leicester Arena as the Women’s teams took to the court for the Basketball. Our ladies best efforts couldn’t quite overpower De Montfort who came out 45-40 winners on the night. As both Men’s teams took to the court the crowd grew and the atmosphere intensified. Leicester comfortably controlled the first half of the game, leading 29-22 at the break. However De Montfort were by no means ready to see their hard work go to waste and put in a truly remarkable second half performance, claiming a 61-49 victory. At the end of match day 2 Leicester found themselves 5 points down in the series, De Montfort stretched their early lead to 8-3.

arena afternoon collage

All teams competing on Sunday 19th March had a real job on their hands. Trailing 8-3 in the Varsity series and a huge 7 points up for grabs in Netball, Swimming and American Football. A strong set of results could see Leicester turn the tide and take the lead in the series despite the slow start. American Football were first to step up to the mark, claiming a 6-0 win over their rivals and ending a fantastic season on a high.

Netball were next up, with 4 teams looking to secure 4 points for the University. Having seen their 5th team demolish De Montfort 51-16 in a match that was unfortunately not for a point, the 4th team took to the court looking to do the same and bring in their first point of the day. They did just that, the final score stood at 37-29 to Leicester and one Varsity point taken. The 3rd team match proved to be a much more one sided affair, Leicester were clinical and claimed both a 45-13 victory and another Varsity point. The 2nd team match was a much tighter affair, Leicester holding off a last minute wave of DMU pressure to secure a 33-31 win. De Montfort managed to prevent a clean sweep with a 47-36 win in an extremely competitive 1st team match. The whole Netball club were superb on the day and claimed 4 victories and 3 Varsity points in a dominant set of performances.

Whilst the final Netball games were underway our male and female Swimming teams took to the pool to try and claim 2 crucial points for Leicester. Amazingly they did just that after what had been an incredibly close day of heats between both sides. The Varsity score had now been levelled at 9-9 after a series of heroic performances during the day from Leicester. The comeback was complete.

Sunday collage

Monday 20th March saw the eagerly awaited football matches with Women’s 1st team first up, looking to extend their unbeaten run from the league. Leicester ran out 4-0 winners on the night with an emphatic performance, striker Milly Cutler scored two and brought her total to 55 for the season, final year Emma Aspinall also bagged a brace. The Men’s 1st team were looking to gain revenge for their 3-0 thrashing at the hands of DMU in last year’s match. The only goal of the game came in the first half where Leicester’s Cameron Kelly turned his marker and buried a shot in the bottom corner. Both teams showed their class on the night and deservedly came away with two wins and 2 Varsity points from De Montfort’s ground. The overall score now read 11-9 to Leicester, the tide had been turned.

football collage

It was all to play for as we headed into the final day of fixtures on Wednesday 22nd March. With Leicester having taken a slim lead DMU were ready to come out with nothing to lose; hoping to claim their first ever Varsity win. Golf, Women’s Tennis, Men’s and Women’s Squash, Men’s Badminton 2nd, Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse, Climbing, Women’s Hockey, Ultimate Frisbee, Men’s Football 4th and Women’s Football 2nd all enjoyed comfortable victories for Leicester. On the flip side DMU claimed 2nd and 3rd Men’s Football, Tae Kwondo and close victories in Indoor Cricket and Men’s Hockey. The Rowing saw an even split of the points with both sides taking 2 a piece, a fantastic performance from our team who have worked tirelessly all year round. Men’s Rugby Union 2nd and 3rd teams and Men’s Basketball 2nd all played in extremely close matches that fortunately went to Leicester. Jiu Jitsu proved even closer and ended in a draw, granting both sides .5 of a Varsity point. A massive 17.5 points were picked up by our clubs before the final two matches on Wednesday, a truly remarkable effort from all involved. This early effort from our teams assured that the Varsity trophy would be returning to Leicester for a 25th consecutive year!

wednesday varsity collage

With the Varsity series already decided pride was the main thing to play for at Welford Road for both Men’s and Women’s Rugby Union 1st teams. The Women were up first and in the early stages the match looked set to be a close affair, both sides matching each other. However tries from Millie Coe, Emily Penney and Emily Hughes proved the difference as Leicester came out on top, 17-3 winners on the night. The Men’s team were looking to cap off a season which had seen them go unbeaten in the league and reach a national cup quarter final. De Montfort looked set to spoil the party, a late try from Leicester in the first half left the score at 13-7 to the underdogs. As the final whistle drew near DMU still led by one point, it looked like it wouldn’t be Leicester’s night. Then, at the death, Dan Taylor powered his way over the line and bedlam was unleashed in the crowd. The boys had brought the game back from the jaws of defeat and won 17-13. All credit has to go to De Montfort who were incredible on the night, but as Leicester lifted the Rugby Varsity shield the crowd erupted and the city was once again ours.

rugby varsity collage

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