Words: Liam Kent
It was honours even at Don Valley on Sunday afternoon as Varsity Rugby ended with a win each for Sheffield Hallam and University of Sheffield. Before this, University of Sheffield had been successful in the Rowing to extend their overall four point lead whilst also winning the Varsity 10 Kilometre run though no point was awarded for this with it counting towards the Athletics point.
Early on Sunday morning, the downhill cycling was cancelled due to the bad weather yet the Rowing at Damflask went ahead with University of Sheffield winning by eight victories to Hallam’s three. It was then on to the 10 Kilometre run at Don Valley. In the women’s event, Hallam took first followed by University of Sheffield in second and third but in the men’s event, Hallam failed to find the podium with University of Sheffield’s Rob Gardner taking first with a time of 34 minutes and 38 seconds followed by Paul Trobin in second and Iraitz Arrospide in third. Hallam’s average time of 41:54 was also inferior to University of Sheffield’s time of 38:30 meaning that they won the Varsity point.
Focus at a very cold Don Valley then turned towards the days main events, the women and men’s Rugby Union games. It was the women’s turn to compete first and it was a memorable occasion for all concerned as they recorded their first Varsity win thanks to a 17-10 victory. Bronagh Doherty opened the scoring with a try for Hallam before the kick was converted to make the score 7-0. Lizzie Gladman then scored Hallam’s second try to add another 5 points to the side’s tally before the conversion was missed. Half time saw Hallam lead 12-0 but the deficit was cut early on in the second half as Tulu Osinubi scored a try for University of Sheffield however they missed the conversion and were punished as Gladman scored her second try of the game to make the score 17-5 after Hallam were unable to convert the kick from a wide angle. University of Sheffield kept pressing to try and work a way back into the game and when Rebecca Ley scored they looked like they might be in with a chance. However, the conversion was missed so Hallam’s lead stayed at seven which was large enough for them to see out a memorable win and set up Hallam for the men’s game which was to follow.
The cold weather continued for the men’s game with a strong wind and outbreaks of snow worsening the conditions for player and spectator alike though this didn’t prevent the Hallam and University of Sheffield supporters creating a typical Varsity atmosphere throughout the game. Hallam took an early lead through a Mark Ireland penalty before University of Sheffield scored the game’s first try thanks to Matt Clarke. The kick wasn’t converted and this allowed Hallam to retake the lead thanks to another Ireland penalty. Both sides then scored a penalty each before University of Sheffield added their second try through Andy Hodgson though failed to score the conversion. Hallam closed the gap once more with Ireland again scoring a penalty and this made the half time score 12-13 in University of Sheffield’s favour. After the break Magowan’s long ranged penalty extended Hallam’s deficit to four but Ireland’s fifth penalty of the game saw the gap once again reduced to the single point.
University of Sheffield were applying the strongest pressure and were eventually rewarded with a penalty try with Magowan adding the conversion and with the score at 23-15 and the game approaching its dying embers, Hallam looked to be struggling for a way back into the game. However, Ireland converted another penalty to set up a tense last ten minutes but at a time when Hallam were arguably applying their strongest pressure of the game, University of Sheffield put the ball into touch to spark jubilant celebrations from their players and fans as the referee called time on the game and Rugby Varsity 2013.