Varsity 2017

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We’re excited to present a podcast that herald’s the arrival of the Varsity series, a historical challenge that encompasses a cross-section of sports, and is to be held between rivals UWE and Bristol. Seeing that Varsity commences this week, we dedicate this podcast to exploring the history of the event, providing a little look at what’s to come and showing you how to get involved.

It all began in 1995 when Bristol challenged UWE to a boat race in the Bristol Docks, making this the oldest event in the Varsity calendar. As part of a tradition upheld annually, the boat race begins with the much-anticipated weigh-in, an event that occurred last Wednesday in the Brass Pig.

As part of the Weigh-in, a rower from each team hits the scales and stands against their equivalent seat in the opposite team. This fun event links the two rival teams, encourages positive participation and strengthens links between the clubs. The Girls’ rowing team looks to be in a great place this year, as they are finally starting to see a rise in equal investment after receiving a brand-new Hudson eight.

We are sure you’ll agree that this is a super exciting way to begin proceedings and true to form, the Varsity hype starts here. Luckily, it’s a completely free event, with no tickets required… so make sure to grab a space on the docks in 2 weeks’ time!

Historically, the boat-race was swiftly followed by the Rugby and Football Varsities, which began in 1996 and 1997 respectively, at Bristol’s Memorial Stadium. These two events have the biggest turnout of the whole series, and are extremely popular in the social calendar, too.

It’s worth mentioning that the Men’s Bristol Rugby team are in an incredibly strong position this year. As for the football, it looks like it’s going to be a closer call, which is bound create an even more intense rivalry on the day. In any case, the stakes are set to be high.

New to the Varsity calendar, is the addition of Varsity cycling which began last year and the colour-run, which started this year to the excitement of many. The second year of Varsity cycling comes hot-off Great Britain’s success in Rio 2016, where Britain won a record-breaking 12 medals in the Velodrome.

The full programme can be found on the Varsity website, alongside transport links, ticket information and promo videos. This is a great place to keep up to date with the results too. A table will be made on the website, which will be updated as the results come in. I hand over to Maisie Boyers’ now, who investigates the significance of Varsity here at Bristol, and looks at events from a slightly different perspective. [Goes to Maisie]

Hello, I’m here to report on some lesser explored aspects of Varsity.

Whilst Varsity looks to be a positive and exhilarating event for both Universities, it has been met by criticism in the past. Sporting rivalry can often fuel underlying tensions between institutions, prompting poor sportsmanship and negativity.

We think that it’s important to preserve the integrity of the sporting arena here at Bristol, celebrating and recognising the value of sport and its ability to unite rather than divide, especially in 2017, since Bristol has been named the European City of Sport.

I interview Caroline Welsh, Cox of the Women’s Second Eight in the Boat club, about the importance of sportsmanship and its role in varsity. [Goes to Interview]

Q1) What does varsity mean to you?

Q2) What will you expect from your squad when it comes to upholding the values of sportsmanship at Varsity?

Q2) Any final messages for UWE?

After a further examination of attitudes surrounding Bristol Varsity, I think it is clear that both teams can benefit from participating in this event by embracing the fun elements of such a rivalry. I wish all teams good luck this series!