Roses Are Red

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Ah, Roses weekend. The shining beacon of third term before the dawning realisation of exams kicks in. Whereas a lot of Lancaster’s university life is about competing for college superiority, the second weekend of term three is when everyone unites against our centuries-old foe, York University. Unlike the War of the Roses (which we won – I’d like to add), Roses has slightly less bloodshed and usurping. But that still doesn’t take away any of its status as a glorious competition.

For some of you, this will be your first Roses experience at all, let alone a home Roses. Even for myself, this will be my first experience of having an actual bed to sleep in over the weekend, rather than the 5 star lecture theatre York treated us to. But for those out of the loop, Roses is a huge sporting extravaganza between ourselves and York, held at each university on alternating years. This is the main reason why Yik Yak is quite often ablaze with the likes of “Your daily reminder, we hate York” and “Roses are red”, along with slightly more colourful and unprintable remarks.

All stemming from Lancaster and York’s 15th century feud, the tournament’s history is slightly younger. Ever since 1965, both universities have duked it out in a variety of sports, with York having the slight edge over the 51 years. The 50th edition of this varsity (the largest university tournament in Europe no less) was held in Lancaster and was truly spectacular, or so I’ve heard. This year, it’s been promised that Roses will only get better, and that the half-century celebrations would be no one-off.

York will be descending on Lancashire in their hundreds, so be prepared for a brief invasion as the atmosphere on campus becomes electric. Also be prepared to get no work done whatsoever. After all, Roses is much more entertaining. It wouldn’t be too hyperbolic to compare Roses to the Olympics, due to the utter buzz that captivates the whole university. Last year was no different at York, despite the victor being unknown as all records and results were lost. It’s true, you know.

The variety of the sports is eclectic to say the least. Before last year, I’d been guilty of only ever seeing the usual culprits of football, rugby and tennis live. All this changed at York, as the scope of what Roses offers was there to see in the flesh. If you find yourself at a loose end, there’s no harm in just strolling around the sports complex to find something that strikes your fancy. That’s what happened with me last year, having somehow become a hockey expert within the space of one game. The vibe courtside as our women’s team scored a last minute equaliser was unrivalled.

You may not be the biggest expert on the sports you’re watching, but there’ll always be people around to ask and I can assure you that you’ll get completely engrossed in the environment. Particularly darts. Speak to anyone about Roses darts and you’ll get exactly the same response. It’s awesome, simple as that. Whereas a lot of fixtures are fierce, darts is just like how you see on the TV. The beer is free-flowing, the crowd is unimaginably buoyant and there’s an announcer. Who needs Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor?

This year there’s a strong emphasis on women’s sports, particularly the Saturday, which holds the bulk of the fixtures. Each day starts at 9am, and often goes on well into the evening, particularly Friday and Saturday. The official opening ceremony coincided with boxing in York last year, featuring Roy Hodgson and Greg Dyke, no less (not participating in the event unfortunately). This year, the women’s football squad will be officially opening Roses at 6pm in the special Roses-unique stadium on campus, though it remains tightly-lipped whether Lancaster can match last year’s special guests. Like last year, the men’s Rugby Union 1st team will be closing out Roses on Sunday afternoon in the stadium at 4pm.

At SCAN, we’ll be attempting to cover as many of the sports on offer as possible, and you’ll be able to track what we get up to on the Roses Live website, as we concurrently liveblog the fixtures. As proven last year, the blog is a great way to keep up to date with other sports as you cheer on someone else at the other side of campus. There’ll also be a bumper edition of SCAN filled with the match reports our reporters can attend to, so be sure to check that out a week later. This week’s SCAN is jam-packed with interviews with a number of our squads, so pick up a copy and look inside for more Roses features. Or if you’re reading this in print, you know, turn the page.

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