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My Experience of Leeds Varsity 2013

The realisation has hit me hard. In June 2014 I will be graduating from the University of Leeds with, (hopefully), a respectable degree in English Literature and Language. The thought of flying the nest into the cold, hard world of unemployment is simply terrifying and I am sure I speak for many people here. This overwhelming realisation has forced me to acknowledge the fleeting time I have left in Leeds. I have not yet completed an Otley Run, nor have I done an ‘all-nighter’ in the Edward Boyle, though I fear this latter experience will soon be rectified. There are indeed certain events which you must experience before graduating from Leeds University, one of which is Varsity.

Leeds Varsity is an annual sports event where the rival teams of Leeds University and Leeds Metropolitan battle it out on the pitch. Around 25 sports are played throughout the day with teams of differing abilities and with over 1600 students getting involved. The event was originally established to focus on the rivalry and friendship between the two university institutions. But the day has become notoriously competitive, digressing away from notions of friendship and focussing more on an aggressive sense of rivalry. The day climaxes and concludes with the Men’s Rugby Union match held at Carnegie Stadium in Headingley, the home of Leeds rugby, the major event of the day where supporters gather in drunken revelry and excitement. Despite my lack of rugby knowledge, I bought a ticket.

So my evening began with a brisk walk from Hyde Park to Headingley and the closer I got to my destination the busier the streets became. As we turned onto Cardigan Road students seemed to pop out of the ground; the streets mobbed with eager, exhilarated faces and abandoned beer cans. The atmosphere was of excitement, but equally of tension; students glancing at each other in competitive rivalry, proudly fashioning their university stash whilst drunkenly chanting, “UNAY!” Carnegie Stadium seemed to appear out of nowhere, its grand structure jutting out amid the terraced town houses of Headingley, students filtering in through lines of oppositional institutions. Once inside the grounds my friends and I headed to the bar to purchase the novelty double pint, a cup so large and heavy it makes you feel remarkably like a borrower, a size so unnecessary and yet integral to the experience.

The stadium, although not at full capacity, was packed with rowdy students. It was utterly exhilarating to feel part of such a mass of Leeds University supporters and, despite the elitist chanting of, “WE PAY YOUR BENEFITS!” aimed at the Leeds Met crowd, I found myself screaming along with every other student.

The Leeds Met cheerleaders unnerved me somewhat with their performance. I know this seems biased but honestly it seemed like a very dirty display of dance moves, which were inappropriate for the rugby pitch. Don’t get me wrong I’ll take my hat off to the athleticism of the girls, but they seem to slap feminism in the face. Whilst watching them flaunt around on the pitch I couldn’t help but think about Robyn Thicke’s scandalous video and the objectification of women. Gross. Of course, the Leeds Uni team seemed far superior with a performance of technicality, lifts and flips and less of the booty-shaking and ‘slut-dropping’. Rant over.

Typically I chose to attend the one Varsity Rugby match over the three years of my degree where we lost. I’m not going to deny it I did feel a pang of disappointment, but despite our loss the night was exhilarating. I now wish I could only attend next year’s game so that I can witness Leeds Uni win. Oh, how I am reminded of the reality again…

Image Sources:

1) Original Image

2) Original Image

3) http://leedsstudent.org/

Beth Marsh

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