Leeds Varsity is the biggest university varsity competition in the country, but is the infamous rivalry causing issues?
By Rebecca Tee
The annual sporting event starts in January with the cross country race, and finishes with the all important men’s rugby union finale. The competition is between the two biggest universities in the city, The University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University. The highly competitive fight for glory attracted over 10,000 students to Emerald Headingley Stadium this year for the final event. Leeds Varsity consists of 60 fixtures across 24 different sports from squash to swimming. This year the Beckett Bears were victorious with 102 points vs 78 for the Gryphons.
However, after Leeds Hacks spoke to people from both universities, it appears that the famous rivalry between the two institutions isn’t necessarily a positive. Meredith Barker, a netball player for Beckett said:
“Sometimes it can get a bit much, girls can get b****y and rude after the match which isn’t necessary, we are all here to have fun at the end of the day.”
Fights breaking out
It isn’t just players that get caught up in the tension of Leeds Varsity. Maddie Cattersall, a student from The University of Leeds, was attending the finale on Wednesday 2nd October and said:
“I’ve seen fights breakout outside the stadium between lads from both unis, people were throwing bottles and stuff, it’s a bit scary.” Violence outside of the stadium is just one example of the negative impacts this highly heated rivalry can create.
Despite this, others believe that the competition brings out the fun side of sport for the universities. Josh Acomb, a Gryphon supporter, said:
“It’s all just banter. Yeah, we joke around and sing chants but it is never actually malicious, it is all part of the fun of varsity.”
Chants on the night from The University of Leeds students at the Beckett fans include some quite entertaining singing such as: “One plus one, two plus two, these are sums that you can’t do” and “Knick knack paddy wack give a dog a bone, you can’t pay back your student loan”. Unfortunately, chants from the Beckett supporters are too explicit to be shared, however they seemed to work as the rugby match ended 25-16 to Beckett.
“Rivalries are a good thing”
“Rivalries are a good thing, because they fire up the teams, get people excited and more competitive so they play harder and better,” said one student from Leeds Beckett. Leeds Varsity remained a success in 2019 with a packed-out stadium and a popular after party in Leeds City Centre at the nightclub Pryzm.
Organisers say: “This is a unique spectacle not to be missed”. It is a massive part of the students’ social calendar and is a great way to kick off the beginning of a new year in Leeds.
So, even though it may be causing issues in competitive sports, more people agree with the idea that rivalry between universities creates positive effects. Tom Davies from The University of Leeds said that although “some students take it too far”, rivalry can create an “encouraging atmosphere” for students to “do better than their peers.”