The gloves are on, the sleeves rolled up and sticks, balls and rackets polished and tuned as Welsh Varsity fever builds.
University teams are battling it out over 25 different sports to find the deserving winner of the 2013 Welsh Varsity Shield. The annual battle of brains and brawn reaches a crescendo in the cauldron of the Wales Millennium Stadium on Wednesday evening with the centrepiece rugby “head-to-head” match. Over 15,500 spectators attended last year’s match.
Other sports represented include hockey, squash, badminton, lacrosse, rowing, golf, basketball, football, netball, volleyball, fencing and an array of other sports including martial arts and ultimate frisbee. 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 five 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.
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.
Swansea Graduate and Honorary Fellow, Paul Thorburn said: “ I played in the equivalent match in the early 80’s for Swansea University when we were lucky to get a man and a dog on the touchline. It’s now become enormous with over 15,500 enthusiastic people coming to the Varsity Match – it’s a great occasion with a truly carnival atmosphere.”
Joe Lydon, WRU Head of Rugby said: “Coupling sporting professionalism with academic institutions is the way forward. More and more players are bridging the gap between professional rugby and enhancing their careers for after rugby. More varsity players are going into regional and professional rugby.”
This year’s 17th Varsity match takes place on 24th April 2013 with the sought after tickets available from www.swansea-union.co.uk.
For more information on the Welsh Varsity event, previous results and information on this year’s fever pitch battle visit our Varsity page.
- Wednesday 24 April 2013 13.36 BST
- Tuesday 16 January 2018 14.58 GMT
- Swansea University, Tel: 01792 295050