This weekend sees the gloves coming off, the sleeves rolled up and sticks, balls and rackets polished and tuned as the 2012 Welsh Varsity Shield battle of brains and brawn kicks off.
The annual head- to-head between Swansea University and Cardiff University starts on Saturday on Cardiff’s dark and daunting River Taff as the men’s and ladies clash oars in the rowing competition.
University teams will battle it out in over 25 different sports during the week to find the deserving winner of the Varsity Shield. Reaching a crescendo in the cauldron of the Wales Millennium Stadium on Wednesday evening with the centrepiece rugby “head-to-head” match .Over14,500 spectators attended last year’s match.
Other sports represented include hockey, squash, badminton, lacrosse, rowing, golf, basketball, football, netball, fencing and an array of other sports including martial arts. This is a fundraising event with proceeds going to a number of worthy causes.
The Inaugural Welsh Varsity Match was played in 1997 in the Welsh Capital and home of Cardiff Rugby Football Club, Cardiff Arms Park. The game was played by the two Welsh Premier Universities; Cardiff and Swansea and the highly successful “Varsity” model was adopted with all proceeds from the event going to Oxfam.
In the early years the Welsh Varsity Match was held alternatively at Cardiff Arms Park and St Helens, the home of Swansea Rugby Club. In 2003 and until 2007 the game was held the neutral ground of the Brewery field in Bridgend.
Historically Swansea University enjoy the tag of perennial favourites at the Welsh Varsity Match winning to date; 10 Varsities, losing four times and drawing once.
Swansea University have regularly enjoyed the ability to select from a vast pool of very talented players; the like of Alun Wynn Jones, Ritchie Pugh, Dwayne Peel all current Welsh Internationals played in Swansea University Welsh Varsity squads. 2007 saw Swansea field no less than 11 FIRA Internationals at varying ages resulting in a win at Cardiff Arms Park.
Cardiff have enjoyed success in recent years with the introduction of a Head of Rugby Post at Cardiff University; the current Head of Rugby Martyn Fowler played an integral part in all four of Cardiff University Rugby Clubs Welsh Varsity Match Victories winning back to back victories for the first time in the clubs history in 2008/09.
Many Cardiff and Swansea University students have gone on to represent and gain contracts with many semi professional and professional clubs on the back of great performances in the Welsh Varsity Match. In 2007 both Universities agreed to award Caps for all students who take the field and play in Varsity. This has added an extra edge to what has already proved to be the most competitive game of the year for both squads.
This year’s Varsity match takes place on 2nd May 2012 with the sought after tickets available from www.swansea-union.co.uk or http://boxoffice.cardiffstudents.com/show.asp?shcode=145
For more information on the Welsh Varsity event, previous results and information on this year’s fever pitch battle visit http://www.welshvarsity.com
Information about Swansea University RFC can be found at http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/swanseauniversityrfc
- Tuesday 1 May 2012 01.00 BST
- Friday 27 April 2012 18.36 BST
- Swansea University, Tel: 01792 295050