Everything’s coming up Roses

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Next week sees the return of the most important event in Lancaster’s sporting calendar – Roses, the annual competition against the University of York.

The event, the largest of its kind in Europe, will be held over the weekend starting Friday Week Three. The location of Roses alternates on a yearly basis; this year, the competition will be held at York.

“It’s been difficult working as the away institution this year. A lot of control is taken from you, but we’ve done what we can and hopefully everyone can see that,” LUSU Vice President (Sports) Marc Handley told SCAN.

There had been a delay in teams receiving timetable information. Handley admitted: “Getting the timetable so late has been a bit of a hindrance. Usually the timetable is sent through to the opposition before Christmas; I only got it about four weeks ago. But our teams have been extremely helpful and organised, so I praise them for that.”

Over 40 different sports and games are represented over the course of the weekend, from the more common sports such as Rugby Union and Football, down to others such as Ultimate Frisbee and Equestrian. The sheer diversity of the opportunities on offer can perhaps be embodied by the presence of Ballroom Dancing on the events list.

“From a personal point of view I’m looking forward to the American Football,” Handley said. “York’s Sports President also plays, so to go up against him for the second time will be really good fun.”

He added: “I can’t ignore the big deal York are making of the Rugby Union Men’s 1st XV match either. To play in a stadium is a massive chance for our boys, and with the form they’ve had this year, they should dominate York.”

The first Roses event took place on the 15th May in 1965, after Lord James of Rusholme, York’s Vice-Chancellor at the time, requested a boat race between the two Universities. Named after the War of the Roses, a 15th century civil war between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, the event has taken place every year and has grown in size ever since.

Now in its 47th year, the overall historical result of Roses is very close, with Lancaster’s total of 22 wins narrowly beaten by York’s figure of 23. There has only been one draw in the history of Roses, coming in 1974. Only two teams still remain unbeaten from previous tournaments: Lancaster’s 3rd XI Hockey team and the Lancaster Bombers American Football team. Both will be looking to maintain their records this year.

The tradition of the involvement of the Vice Chancellors of the universities continues, with them playing a game of Croquet towards the closing stages of the tournament.

Last year’s event, held at Lancaster, was a special moment for all involved. Lancaster had previously suffered three consecutive defeats including one on home soil. The defeat in 2009 at York was a particular low point, with Lancaster achieving a score of just 79.5 against York’s total of 194.5. As a point of comparison, in the previous year’s competition, Lancaster was narrowly defeated at home by a margin of just two points.

However, last year Lancaster saw York off by a healthy 52 points. The event was the biggest yet, with the Roses Hub as a centrepiece – a large pavilion with a bar and extensive media facilities, which also hosted the ceremonies.

Handley told SCAN that he “loved Roses 2010”. As Vice President-elect (Activities), he will also be organising Roses 2012 on home soil. “[Last year] was a fantastic event for Lancaster and LUSU as a whole, so the only thing I wish to do next year is improve on what was an amazing weekend.”

He added: “I’ve got some ideas for it already, but they can wait for after we win Roses 2011!”

Lancaster have not won at York since 1985, and have only won there three times before that. The majority of past results have suggested a significant advantage for the home side, although Lancaster will be feeling confident on the back of last year’s comprehensive victory.

This feeling is evidently shared by Handley. “Of course we can win this year! I am extremely confident in the ability of all of our teams, they have produced some fantastic results this year, and I expect nothing less than a Roses victory [this year]. I’d be a pretty bad VP (Sports) if I didn’t think we could do it!”

The bar for media coverage was set very high by Lancaster’s student organisations last year. Under the banner of Roses Live, a website created to act as a hub for live results and reports, student TV station LU-tube.tv was able to provide live video streaming of a number of events, while radio station Bailrigg FM offered commentary of live matches. SCAN will be accompanying them both to York this year, and will aim to provide live, comprehensive coverage in conjunction with York’s student media.

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