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Yes, it’s finally that time of year again, the weekend we’ve all been waiting for is upon us: Roses 2014 is here. The historic houses of Yorkshire and Lancashire have indirectly composed the largest university varsity competition in Europe. However, not just under usual circumstances will both Lancaster and York Universities fight it out for honours, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the competition and also, Lancaster’s establishment as an academic institution.
Following last year’s away loss at the hands of the White Rose, Lancaster are ready and actively seeking revenge. While it won’t be easy, Lancaster’s dominant displays throughout the BUCS leagues this year, have provided the perfect preparation, instilling a winning mentality, which shall no doubt be taken forward into the most important fixtures of the calendar year.
Home advantage has proved decisive in the last five Roses, but that won’t stop York from mounting a serious threat in changing current trends. BUCS standings put the universities pretty much alongside each other heading into the encounter, York only holding a 43 BUCS points advantage over Lancaster, providing strong evidence of how tightly matched both universities currently stand.
This year York’s elite sportsmen and women have had a fair share of their own successes too, with a number of teams hoping to create an upset on Lancaster soil. Undefeated seasons in women’s and men’s lacrosse as well as in women’s water polo have been the pinnacle of York’s sporting achievement. On top of this, promotions for their men’s football firsts and seconds, men’s hockey seconds and women’s rugby firsts all serve as reminders of York’s sporting strength and are all teams which could potentially prove tough fixtures as they head into Roses full of confidence.
York’s lacrosse club have had a year of unparalleled success, not only have the men’s and women’s teams both secured unbeaten seasons, the women’s firsts have now clinched the cup too – already beating Lancaster 27-5 earlier in the Northern cup competition. While the women may struggle, their is added hope that Lancaster’s men can defeat their adversaries, while both have moved up in the league ladders, Lancaster are situated in a higher division (2A), which could prove pivotal on Saturday.
York’s rugby teams are often are considered a driving force behind their Roses successes; playing in the higher tiers of the BUCS leagues and defeating Lancaster on numerous occasions at Roses, they will have every reason to go into the Saturday encounter with heightened optimism. However, this year the men’s sides as a whole have had a dour display in the league; the seconds were relegated and the firsts and thirds just avoided relegation by a solitary place. Reason for cheer perhaps, but rest assured with all team’s in higher league tiers, Lancaster Rugby Club may be hard pushed to end their Roses misery this year. The rugby firsts play in the second highest division in the country, and critically beat Durham’s second team, as our – undefeated in the league – firsts lost to Durham thirds in the cup, this could prove a ominous indicator for how the headline rugby fixture may pan out.
In contrast to the rugby, the football teams of York can all be found in lower leagues in comparison to their Lancaster equivalents. Last year saw a clean sweep, for Lancaster in all fixtures, but this year they may be made to work harder for their victories as two of York’s four teams shall be competing at Roses following successful promotion campaigns. The York first team look an improved outfit having not only gained promotion into the 3A division, but were runners-up in the Northern Conference cup – closely losing to none other than Bangor firsts who Lancaster beat at home in the league this year!
In other sports, badminton looks to be a tightly fought fixture, with both the men’s and women’s sides within a league from each other and with a total of 12 points available – including the mixed badminton – this could be a critical tie. The same can be said for tennis, last year Lancaster’s women won easily, the same outcome looks likely with York’s firsts women finishing third in the 3B division – three divisions lower than where Lancaster’s women’s are positioned. The men’s tennis however, could be as close as it was last year, with both the firsts and seconds of York making reasonable progress in their respective leagues (2B and 4B).
York’s hockey have had a mixed bag when it comes to the league, similar to the football, all York’s hockey teams can be found in lower tiers to their Lancaster counterparts. Although their men’s firsts and thirds both inflicted defeat upon Lancaster at Roses last year a whitewash could be possible if all six hockey teams perform to the standard they have this year.
The build-up for Roses has been intense, a season full of excitement and achievement throughout both universities have paved the way for what is guaranteed to be a fantastic 50th Roses, and landmark event for both universities. While past results, statistics and a team’s form guide tell a certain tale, they don’t paint the full picture, the old cliché “anything can happen” seems apt when the pressures, nerves and adrenalin all start to kick in, as the pursuit for the Carter James trophy intensifies.