Expectations high for Scottish Varsity 2017

Deputy editor Andrew Sinclair provides you with a primer for the biggest sporting event on the St Andrews calendar.

Photo: Saints Sport

Get a pen, open your diary to Saturday 23 September, and write down “RBS Scottish Varsity, Murrayfield.” I’m being serious, go and do it!

The Scottish Varsity game, for those who don’t know, is the oldest university rugby match in the world contested by the Universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh. Drawing over 10,000 fans into the national Scottish stadium for the last two years, the game is firmly established as Scotland’s premier student sporting event and when the tickets are just £5, you have no excuse not to go.

An assured performance from St Andrews saw them run out 24-12 winners in last year’s marquee fixture, meaning this year they have the opportunity to make it five in a row.

When asked about who favourites were for this year’s clash, St Andrews Director of Rugby David Ross said “I’d say Edinburgh will be favourites going into the game this year due to the fact that they played us in the league and cup last year and won both games (Edinburgh went on to lose 39-10 in the cup final against Glasgow).

Sure, we have won the last 4 varsity matches but every season is a different team and our players will have to really step up to the occasion and the standard that previous teams have managed to play at. A challenge that we are confident that they will take head on and leave it all on the pitch.”

Tickets for students are available for just £5 and bus transportation is also available to purchase at reasonable prices, so there’s no excuse not to get involved. The link to tickets can be found here: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/varsity/.

With the start of term being pushed back a week this semester, the St Andrews team have had three weeks of pre-season, the longest in the club’s history. Numbers have been very healthy and the added time has allowed them to get into tip-top shape and get some friendly games under their belts.

Varsity is about more than just the big game though, due to kick-off just after 6, as the 2nd and 3rd XVs will be in action on the back pitches during the afternoon and the women will be in action on the international pitch immediately before the showpiece fixture.

The women came out on the end of a heavy defeat last time round but according to Ross they’ve had their best ever numbers at pre-season and they’re training harder than ever for the game against the best women’s rugby team in the UK, which includes several internationals.

One team not in action on the day is the newly-formed 4th XV. New for this season, the team has been designed as a means to give everyone a game and help Saints Rugby to further its development to becoming “The best student rugby club in the world.”


Photo: Saints Sport

Of the team, Ross said “We have always had really good numbers at the start of every season but due to having only three teams, some players who wanted a game couldn’t get one so we hope to be able to provide rugby for everyone that wants it every week.”

The club will also be running Tartan Touch sessions every Saturday open to everyone from total beginners through to experienced players and the sessions will be open to both men and women.

Varsity is the first big event on the St Andrews calendar and in my opinion nothing beats the atmosphere, especially if we win. Even if rugby isn’t your thing, the game isn’t until late afternoon so you can try out some of Edinburgh’s fantastic bars and restaurants during the day, or you can opt for a nice hike up Arthur’s Seat, enjoying the wonderful view across the city. There is also the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle and many other great tourist locations for you to check out, meaning that the day is not just for rugby fans.

The game itself is a brilliant experience, and with both Universities hoping for a crowd to beat last year’s record-breaking achievements, I implore you to get along and watch. St Andrew have a student body 1/3 of Edinburgh’s size, so for us to win three in a row would be a stonking achievement.

Supporting your university for the first time is a brilliant experience and even if it isn’t your first time, it is still worth watching. “MON THE SAINTS!”


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