Looking forward to: Varsity 2023
Rugby Union Varsity between the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett is one of the most anticipated sporting events of the sporting calendar for students in Leeds. This year is no different as we build up to kick off at 7:30 on the 3rd of May.
The University of Leeds will be incredibly confident with an unbeaten home record this season in the BUCS Northern Prem. This includes an eye-catching victory against Nottingham Trent and a brilliant draw against League Champions Newcastle. They are led by captain and second row Jake Aldridge, who will be ably supported in the pack by last year’s stand out player, flanker Greg Jones and another returner in Ollie Kenyon. The Gryphons play an expansive game and key to that is fly half Daniel Troup who will be charged with directing the team around the park and putting exciting backs Owen Dudman, Finn Cook and Greg Kitson into space. They will hope their experienced players will bring that bit of extra nous in the game’s big moments.
Their opponents Leeds Beckett have won the last three encounters at Headingley but this year the game looks set to be on a knife edge. Beckett, led by captain and hooker Madison Hunting, are a much-changed side to the one that were victorious last year. Hunting is the only returning member from the dominant starting pack last year. However, they do still have plenty of talent and size in England Students prop Callum Hancock and dynamic back rowers Khalik Kareem and Olly Mullarkey. They also do not lack for X factor out wide with the Harlequins’ rapid Conor Oresanya, and classy full back Matt Salisbury both players to watch.
Beckett have had a tough season in BUCS Super Rugby this year, finishing bottom of the league but they will be buoyed by a victory in the relegation play off against a much-fancied Brunel side. That game was played in terrible conditions but was won through a great team try finished off by inside centre Alex Green.
This game promises to be incredibly tight and with both sides pushed on by partisan support the game could go either way and will be decided by the finest of margins.
Before the men’s game is the third edition of the Women’s Rugby Varsity with both sides having one a game each. Leeds Beckett won last years game and will be hoping to go back-to-back led by captain Georgia Naylor. Back rower Lotte Westerlaken and back Holly Veitch both are players to watch out for. Uni Of will be no push over however, led by scrum half Pippa Gammer and with Premier 15 players, such as prop Leah Romain and utility back Charlotte Lacy. Leeds certainly have the fire power to match Beckett.