Although they might have lost the rugby finale, Leeds Beckett kept hold of their unbeaten Varsity record, winning the competition for the twelfth year in succession. They didn’t have it all their own way, as the University of Leeds’ teams ensured it was the closest Leeds Varsity ever, falling just short, with Beckett winning 32-31 overall.
The day started brightly for Leeds University, with victory in the men’s and women’s biathlon putting the team into an early lead, combined with previous results in indoor cricket and netball. One sport where Beckett were hoping they would catch up was tennis, where they have a dominant record in Varsity. This proved to be the case again this year, with all seven of their teams beating their cross-city counterparts. Table tennis was another dominant victory for the team in purple, with Beckett running out 16-1 winners in the men’s 1st competition.
In football, the men’s 2nd team turned the tables on Beckett, winning on penalties to secure the point, after being defeated in a shootout in 2015. The Leeds teams were also victorious in the men’s 3rd match, taking a resounding 4-0 victory, with the 1st team falling short, in a 2-4 defeat. Arguably one of the most improved teams over the last 12 months is the women’s football squad, who lost all their matches in the 2015 Varsity competition, with the three teams letting in a combined 32 goals. After winning both league and cup last season, the 1st team continued their success by beating Beckett 4-3 in a scintillating match. The 2nd team also secured a point for Leeds University by winning 5-1, but Beckett made sure it wasn’t a clean sweep of wins in the for the women’s football squad by winning the 3rd match 9-2, which was still a huge improvement for Uni compared to the 16-1 hammering they suffered last year.
One of the biggest Varsity sports in terms of points is hockey, with eight matches taking place, equally split between male and female teams. This has been one of the main points scoring sports for the Gryphons in previous years, and they continued this trend this time around, winning seven of the eight matches, with the men’s squad victorious in all four of their ties, and Beckett winning 4-2 in the women’s 1st match. Golf was one of the sports postponed last year, and the University of Leeds squad probably wished that the weather had played a part this year, as Beckett won the contest 8-0.
Badminton proved to be a close match up this year, with Beckett winning two of the three points that were on offer. Both men’s matches ended in 7-1 victories, with the Leeds squad winning the 2nd team match, before Beckett gained revenge in the 1st. Captain Zayd Sheikh wasn’t too disheartened about the defeat, saying ‘I think we did well overall, especially as we were playing against a very experienced side’. It wouldn’t be a sporting contest without some controversy, and the men’s squash 2nd team match was cancelled with no Beckett team available to play, leading the University of Leeds squad to believe that the match should go down as a forfeit, which would have left the scores tied at 32-32. Next year, Uni will be hoping they can make it an unlucky thirteenth Varsity for Beckett, and seal a first victory.
Photo Credit: Luke Etheridge