Women’s Rugby Team Make Varsity Herstory

During their match against Leeds Beckett, the Women’s Rugby Union’s First Team won 19-12 setting a first for Headingley Stadium.

The University of Leeds recorded a monumental win in the inaugural Women’s Rugby Varsity match at Headingley Stadium and established a great foundation to the new annual fixture between the fierce rival universities. 

For so long, the Women’s rugby teams for each university have had to remain supportive of the Men’s rugby team in the stands but this year they were given the opportunity to level the playing field.

Giving the Men a few pointers on Wednesday night on how to bring down the mighty Beckett rugby team, the Women’s team won the match with a finishing score of 19-12 in Leeds University favour. 

Emma Winstanley, captain of Women’s First Team, described the result as “incredible, we worked so hard for three weeks for this game and it’s pulled off exactly how we wanted it to”. She went on to add  “I’m so unbelievably proud [of my team].” 

It was a brilliant first-half performance by all of the team, with tries coming from Anna Hamilton, Rosie Blount, and Melina Irawo. 

Hannah Morton’s performance really helped Leeds University secure the victory by assisting Rosie Blount in her try and converting two out of the three conversions. However, she was sadly injured at half time and was taken off the pitch. The score at the end of the first half was 19-0 to the University of Leeds.

 The second half saw Leeds University bring a different character to their game, as they dug deep and attempted to limit Beckett’s offence.

Anna Hamilton and Rosie Blount both made great last-ditch challenges which prevented tries. Leeds University forwards also played their part by holding a solid line throughout, which limited the territory gains Beckett could make.  

Elsa Hunter, captain of the Women’s Second Team couldn’t hide her jubilation when we interviewed her after the match: “I am absolutely ecstatic, the girls have worked so hard for this and we put it all on the pitch.” 

And when asked about next year’s Varsity, she said: “we’re going to win every year, I feel so strongly about this team.”

The men’s outfit was not quite so successful but were valiant in their performance pushing Beckett right to the end. This resulted in a try in the last second of the match with the final score was Beckett University 25, Leeds University 16. 

Luke White was superb in his kicking, bringing in nine points from penalties and a further two from converting Tom Gutherie’s last-second try.

Lydia Evans, Activities Officer at Leeds University Union, spoke to us after the match saying “it’s been a wonderful day of sport for Leeds, I’m very proud of everyone”. 

When asked about the women’s spectacular performance, she replied: 

“They were really, really great and they’re a fantastic society, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. It’s a testament to all the time and effort they put in”

Lydia also praised the men’s team too calling it “one of the closest matches I’ve seen in my five years at Leeds, which is a testament to how hard they trained in the last year […]”. 

She congratulated Tom Guthrie on his try in overtime saying “how it’s great to see that with no minutes on the clock, they’re still pushing. What a good team, what a good club.”

Suzanne Glavin, the Head of Sport at the University of Leeds, said:

“The match wonderfully demonstrated how far the game has developed since I played in terms of conditioning of players, technical ability and tactical awareness. It’s fantastic for the players to compete in a such an iconic stadium – they all rose to the occasion.”

Image by Ed Barnes