Lancaster have suffered a staggering Roses tournament defeat today at the hands of York University.
Before the second day’s events even finished, York passed the 138 ‘magic number’ required to win the competition, with Lancaster still floundering on 53.5. York’s score currently stands at 154.5, 101 points ahead of Lancaster.
There are still 46 points to play for in tomorrow’s events, but Lancaster can now only hope to narrow York’s lead to avoid complete embarrassment. The specter of York hitting the 200 point mark, which looks like a real possibility, would be a first in Roses history.
Away teams traditionally appear to suffer a disadvantage at Roses, which made Lancaster’s task a difficult one from the beginning, playing on rival turf. But despite the difficulty of winning away, York still took the Carter-James cup back east last year when the tournament was held at Lancaster, winning the tournament by a slim 2 points. But the scale of Lancaster’s defeat here in York, has left many of Lancaster’s players and supporters, as well as the AU president, Gareth Coleman, scratching their heads.
York were already far ahead by close of play yesterday, leading Lancaster 62.5 to 14.5. Lancaster took less than one in five of the points available. Although the results today have improve that performance, it is too little too late to make a difference to the end result of a York win.
In the tally of Roses tournament wins, York have now increased their lead, having won 23 tournaments to Lancaster’s 21 since the tournament first started in 1965. Lancaster haven’t won away at Roses since 1985.
Many were touting this year to be the end of Lancaster’s unlucky streak. Only last week, the AU president said in SCAN that Lancaster had “a very good chance of winning the tournament” this year. Though this optimism could be explained as a drive to boost morale, Coleman insists his confidence was sincere. He told SCAN: “I’ve never contemplated losing. From day one I’ve been thinking about what we needed to do to win.”
“It’s an embarrassment, quite frankly,” he said, commenting on the result. “I don’t know what the score will be by the end of of the weekend, but now we’re playing for pride.”
He named a number of potential reasons for the landslide defeat, from trouble with training facilities back in Lancaster, to the “shambles” surrounding the timing of the event itself, which has meant many of Lancaster’s best players stayed at home, to prepare for exams next week. He said: “Moving the whole thing to this weekend has been a shambles from the start, and has really affected us.”
He added: “It’s taken the entire year to prepare for [Roses], so it will probably take the whole next year to work out what went wrong.”
“We didn’t get the happy ending we’d wanted.”