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Varsity 2012: Did we drop the ball?


The Leeds Met rugby team in action

For the second year running, The University of Leeds rugby union team were triumphant in their pursuit of glory at Headingley Carnegie Stadium. Two fantastic tries and a host of kicking points earned them their first title of the year and bragging rights as Varsity Champions. 

A dramtic first half

The expectation was high and the atmosphere was rowdy as the players were welcomed by an emphatic reception from 11,377 spectators, a record breaking capacity for a Leeds Varsity game. The stage was set for a truly dramatic match, and it delivered. Debut performances for both sides were teamed with an abundant selection of very experienced and highly skilled individuals, the strengths and weaknesses were on show for all to see. A fantastic experience the players will remember for a long time.

The match began with immediate pressure from Uni in the Leeds Met half for the first few minutes of the game. The pressure was dealt with well by the Met side demonstrating that they were up to the challenge, preventing the Uni boys from reaching the try line. However, the Uni’s perseverance and patience gave way to mistakes from the Met, allowing Uni to capitalise on penalty opportunities and giving them a well earned six points on the scoreboard, executed by no.12 Charlie Foley – a player plagued by injury last year – making a fine addition to the Uni side.

Fantastic attacking opportunities were created throughout the first half by both teams with Met scoring the first try of the game (5-6), in great fashion. Uni bit back and increased their lead to 5-13, an expertly crafted try paired with a solid conversion from the untouchable Foley. This passage of high tempo rugby gifted Uni a strong lead and plenty of momentum going into the break.

Second half slaughtering

With changes in both camps, the no.22’s in fluxed control of the kicking game in the 2nd half, Thomas Bond taking hold of his opportunities in the same consistent manner as his Uni team-mate Foley.

Met looked to shift their game into winning form and iron out mistakes caused by dropped catches and silly penalty concessions from the first half. This aim was quickly thwarted as Uni had other, more destructive ideas increasing their lead with another converted try to 20-5. Despite creating abundant opportunities in front of a determined Uni defence, Met’s mistakes and penalty concessions carried on through the second period, barring their execution of scoring opportunities and ample possession into points. Having to resort to Ben Elliot’s boot in these situations meant that the Met were making the difficult task ever more desperate. The confidence of Elliott was duly noted by the met side, with attempts from all over the Uni half, despite falling short on occasions. Scrum and lineout plays were dominated by Uni, fantastic skills from scrum-half James Munro and his scrum-pack earning the team many turnovers in possession.
Finally after much Met pressure in the scoring areas, Uni took their opening with a try to demolish any doubts about the team’s skill and winning abilities, recognising them as a wholly powerful force. Their push to an emphatic victory was factored largely by impressive execution in scoring areas and the taking of opportunities.

Speaking to a couple of the Leeds Met rugby players after the match

The match finished 27-11, bragging rights obtained for the Uni and surely job done in their eyes. As for the Met, many fingers will be pointed, concerns raised and considerable reflection from all parties involved. Many lessons learnt from this year’s varsity with optimistic heads visualising a steep learning curve, prevailing with sporting success for the Met in the challenging year ahead. Particularly notable performances from Ali Johnson (14) and Charlie Maddison – Brother of former Varsity winning captain Barney Maddison, as well as other members in the Met squad will be remembered. The side showed fantastic promise many of areas of the game, they can be confident that this result will not dishearten them in the new season.

Best of luck Met! Or maybe that’s the problem, certainly according to Leeds Uni rugby union head coach Colin Stevens, ‘luck has nothing to do with it’. Well two on the trot, I’m starting to agree with a couple of Colin’s ideas. Some things to be learnt from Leeds Uni I wonder?

I can only hope that next year’s Varsity article reads: ‘Bounce Back: a surge of new found confidence’. However, we all know that it’s easier said than done.

Is our sporting prowess in decline?

Half time saw the much anticipated presentation of the varsity trophies from all of the sports contested for on the day. Leeds Met just edged the overall standings at 30-29, meaning that they would retain their title regardless of the rugby union result (a 30-30 tie after the Union match was taken into consideration).

However this year, like the previous, witnessed Uni stepping up to the stage with increased presence and belief. The closest Varsity result for 8 years will surely send a chill through the sporting students of Met; who may question that Uni’s steep progression could give way to a new era of sporting dominance very soon. Uni beginning to ponder their own fates ‘do today’s successes add a new dimension to the sporting debate?’. This statement can at least secure a thrilling battle and rivalry in Varsity 2013. If comparing ourselves against Uni, progression in sporting achievement early in the year outlines possible areas of concern. Let’s hope it is simply a small bump in an otherwise successive and exiting journey.

Is there really hatred between the 2 Uni’s or is the spirit of rivalry just exasperated by varsity?

There’s no denying that the rivalry between Leeds Met and Leeds Uni has existed since records began, but is there any real harm in this seemingly healthy competitive spirit? Most would argue that the academic and sporting prowess of both institutions benefit from each other’s progress. Shaking hands and remaining friends long into the night in shared venues, such as Oceana displaying on paper that everything is well.

Another view of the current situation would challenge this, suggesting the pursuit for excellence can separate, creating conflict and ideas of hatred between students in isolated events. The rugby union varsity clash may well have highlighted evidence to support this idea; a rough tackle in the first half escalating a full scale brawl between the players, most of whom were involved and responsible for a few blows. In addition and true to form, the chorus of chanting from both crowds may have appeared distasteful to some but good fun to most. We then ask the question ‘can these minority cases of conflict fully reflect the nature and mindset of Leeds and disrupt the landslide demonstration of necessary and healthy rivalry in the competitive world?

Champions once more

With such a tight contest for the title of Varsity Champions 2012, every point on the day was vital to each side’s success. Leeds Met secured their claim of the trophy for the 8th year in a row. Congratulations to all students that took part, doing fantastic credit to their universities. Overall a great day of sporting achievement, brilliant fun for all spectators and competitors alike. Long may the glorious tradition of Leeds Varsity continue.

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Varsity highlights for the Leeds Met teams

  • The Met badminton teams were out in full strength, earning early points on the standings. The men’s 1st team laying down the law with an 8-0 smash; the 2nd team also tasting glory. The women’s badminton teams emulated the men’s performance, a 6-2 for the 1st’s and narrowly missing out on a win for the 2nd’s.
  • Met’s basketball prowess echoed through the halls of Carnegie sport, including a huge victory in the women’s 1st’s (110-12) and an impressive win for the men’s 2nd team (69-51).
  • Cricket saw the men’s 1st team end with a comfortable 119-118.
  • True to form in the football across the board, Met won 4 out of 5 games for the men, the women wiping the floor in their 1st (8-0) and 2nd (6-1) team football matches.
  • A mixed bag in the men’s and women’s hockey results, a similar story in the women’s netball.
  • Brutal slam in the Met’s favour for the women’s rugby union (37-0).
  • Tennis gave their high performance centre home it’s just deserves with the men victorious in 3 of 4 matches and the women unbeaten.
  • Triumphs in the men’s volleyball and water polo restored faith the Met.
  • A shuddering 24-0 in the Ten Pin Bowling matches teaching Uni a lesson or two.
  • Indoor rowing and ultimate Frisbee wins will gather great confidence for the season ahead in respective sports.

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