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Varsity… For Dummies

It’s that time of year again – or to those new to Leeds, welcome to the annual sporting epic that is Leeds Varsity.

Established in 2005, the day-long event sees the University of Leeds and Leeds Met do battle in over 25 different sports in a feast of enthralling, adrenaline fuelled, inter-city rivalry, culminating in the titanic tussle between the Universities Rugby Union teams at the Leeds Rhinos stadium in Headingley.

Sound good? This is the bit where Uni students may want to look away. Since its inception seven years ago, Leeds Met are undefeated in the event – i.e. it’s Uni 0 – 7 Met.

But who knows. This could be our year. Leeds University Union Sports Rep Greg Sturge explains optimistically:

“The gap between us and Met has been getting narrower every year, and I think we have a great chance to finally get our hands on the overall title. The re-inclusion of sports such as rowing, where we are traditionally the stronger university, can only help our cause!”

To those unfamiliar with the complexities of competitive sport – and let’s be honest, that’s probably most of you – here is your girl-i-fied guide to some of the main sports on show:

Rugby Union

The showpiece event of Leeds Varsity. Sort of like British Bulldog/ Takedown but with a ball. Two teams of 15 enormous men chase an egg-like-ball around a pitch trying to (often dramatically) touch the ball/egg down behind their opponents’ try-line. Points can also be scored by kicking the ball between the posts at each end of the pitch. The ball can only be passed by hand backwards but can be kicked forwards.


Rugby League

Very similar to its Union brother with a few key differences. 13 men a side rather than 15. In League the team in possession of the ball can only take six tackles before they must give the ball to the opposition. Rarely does a scrum occur in League (where a load of players all seem to jump on and around the player with the ball) unlike Union where they are regular.


Surely you know this one? Two teams of 11 players attempt to kick the ball (a nice round one this time) into the opposition’s goal. Use of the hands is not allowed. One player per team – the goalkeeper – can use their hands in stopping the ball enter their goal, but only within their 18-yard box.



Two teams of 11 players attempt to score the most runs between them. A run is scored by either running between the stumps (usually after hitting the ball) before the fielder can throw the ball at said stumps or hitting the ball over the boundary along the floor (4 runs) or in the air (6 runs). The bowling team attempts to limit the number of runs the batsmen score mainly by attempting to get them ‘out’. This can be achieved normally by hitting the batsmen’s stumps with the ball, the fielder catching the ball after the batsman has hit it without the ball bouncing, LBW (leg-before-wicket, when the ball hits the batsmen’s legs in front of the stumps without touching the bat) or run out (see above). The ball is (usually) red and very hard. Whichever team scores the most runs wins.



Basically football with sticks instead of feet. Definitely not feet – if the ball touches the foot it’s a foul. A large proportion of goals come from ‘penalty corners’, when the attacking team is allowed to tee up a team mate from the corner for a shot from the edge of the area.


Two teams try to score points by throwing the ball into their opponents’ hoop. The player with the ball cannot move/travel. For more information ask any girl over six foot…


Similar to netball but players can travel with the ball by bouncing it as they run.

So there concludes my highly patronising and sexist guide to some of the main sports on show at Leeds Varsity.

For more information on the (many) other sports, see www.wikipedia.org


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