The problem with being a university town is that there can be a lack of high-octane, tense and vociferous rivalry with another university. The emotions that are stirred by ‘Poly vs Posh’ football matches across the UK have long eluded the students of St Andrews. Until now.
The Universities of St Andrews, Dundee and Abertay have come together to launch a tri-‘varsitay’ tournament in a move that will let the universities pit their wits against each other in a variety of sports. With the first event planned for March 2015 the hope is that there could be as many as 20 different sports taking part and therefore almost 1,000 students involved.
If the theoretical plan is put into practice the ‘varsitay’ would become the biggest sporting event of its kind in Scotland. Each university would host several different sports over three days in March and the event would culminate with a presentation evening and social.
There is strong support for such an event across all three universities and excitement is already starting to grow despite the plans not being complete. Ali Bell, the sports development officer at Abertay, said in an official statement that “the Abertay students are really excited at this prospect and are looking forward to the event next year”.
The event is also attracting support from outwith the confines of the universities. Iain Stewart, Scottish Student Sport’s Tayside and Fife coordinator, said: “This event will be a fantastic addition to the national sport scene”. He hopes to see the entire student body get behind the project which could see “some top-level competition in what is undoubtedly going to be a highlight in the sporting calendar locally.”
In recent years St Andrews has had a friendly rivalry with RAF Leuchars although I’m sure any student would tell you that doing battle with the Dundonians would be far more competitive and rewarding than lining up against a branch of the military. Gary Brankin, the sports development manager at the University of St Andrews, spoke of the ‘varsitay’ as a “fantastic opportunity” for all concerned. He said it “will allow us to continue with an annual varsity competition but with more of our teams and more of our students able to compete.”
St Andrews may be a lonely island in a sea of densely university populated cities and has long missed out on the chance to unite against a rival’s sporting team, but the times are changing. Come next March it looks as if students in St Andrews, Dundee and Abertay will be given the chance to get the facepaint out, drag those vuvuzelas out from the bottom of the cupboard and enjoy a three-day festival of friendly rivalries.