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This year’s competition involved participants competing in both kata and kumite and was highly anticipated by students from both universities, as well as other spectators. The competition was held at the Roger Kirk Center and started at about 9pm on Friday Week 1. In an affair full of intensity and competitiveness, Lancaster and York each split two points, with Lancaster winning the female kata and the male kumite and York having the upper hand at male kata and female kumite. The contenders for the white rose were: Andrew Gameson (Kata and Kumite), Alice Carstairs (Kata and Kumite), Nettie A-Borrill (Kata and Kumite) and Max Strachan (Kata). On the other hand, Lancaster’s lineup included Adam Craggs (Kata and Kumite), Francesco Quiliconi (Kata and Kumite), Peter Skinner (Kata), Charlie Pepper (Kumite), Kelly Chi – (Kata and Kumite) and Samantha Pang (Kata and Kumite).
First up was the female kata followed by men’s kata. Kelly Chi and Samantha Pang did not a have a problem at all with the clean and solid execution of their moves and ensured that Lancaster’s team was off to a good start at kata. Despite this fact, in the men’s kata York responded to the challenge and managed to beat their Lancaster counterparts 2-1.
After finishing up with kata, it was time for female and male kumite. In the female kumite York came out strong and Alice Carstairs and Nettie A-Borrill had no problem seeing off their opponents. No matter how close the fights seemed at times, the white rose managed to find a way to dominate the female kumite by executing the right moves at the right time. On the other hand, although the start for Lancaster at the men’s kumite was not positive, with Francesco Quiliconi being beaten in an extremely intense and close fight, Adam Craggs and Charlie Pepper managed to pick up the slack and ensure that Lancaster was granted victory. During both of these fights, which determined the result of men’s kumite, Lancaster participants showed that they have no problem with coping with pressure, getting out of tough situations and turning the result in their favour, despite the circumstances. For instance, at one point Pepper fell on the ground and it looked like his opponent was going to deliver an ippon (which is the highest score a fighter could achieve for a move and is worth three points), but Pepper managed to prevent that, got out of the situation cleanly and eventually win the fight. Furthermore, Craggs also looked extremely composed and patient during his fight and seeing him defeat his York opponent was hardly a surprise. After all of the fights were finished Craggs shared that he was both satisfied and disappointed at the same time of Lancaster’s performance. He praised his teammates, but also emphasized that the team is capable of being even more successful in the future because of the potential and dedication of its members.
Overall, I am of the firm belief that participants from both Lancaster and York were well-prepared for Roses 2015 and the sharing of the points between the two sides is probably justified. However, it has to be noted that York’s raucous crowd definitely played their part and constantly cheered for and encouraged their fellow university members (something that the referee was not too fond of, perhaps because the fans were extremely loud and might have influenced the competitors’ performance). On the flipside, the red rose’s representatives did their best to remain focused and unaffected by the crowd’s chants. In the end, the important thing is that we saw some captivating, as well as fair fights, in which many impressive moves were executed cleanly. For example, members of both teams executed some beautiful chudan kicks, which definitely pumped up the crowd. Overall, seeing York vs Lancaster at Roses 2015 was a particularly enjoyable and intriguing experience and proved to be a faithful presentation of both team’s high level of talent and their rigorous training and lengthy preparations.