It goes without saying that all of Varsity is worth watching. From the boxing to the badminton, canoe polo to climbing, frisbee to football, the biggest event in the Sheffield university sporting calendar is compulsive viewing.
Every point is fought over bitterly, with neither side willing to allow their deadly rivals an advantage – in fact, only 14 events changed hands completely last year.
There will be, as ever, plenty of thrills and spills. We will see results go with the formbook, and said formbook will also be thrown out of the window. The following are just a handful of the flashpoints that could come to define Varsity 2017.
One of the most well-attended events at Varsity, around 800 spectators will fill the Octagon to take in an exhibition in pugilism. The University of Sheffield triumphed in 2015, but the two sides played out a thoroughly entertaining 3-3 draw last time out. The twelve fighters meet in the Octagon arena on Saturday, and a win would lay down a marker ahead of the glut of Varsity action that follows.
Men’s Football 1s
Varsity begins in earnest at Hallam Sports Park, where one side could forge a commanding lead and gain a psychological advantage over their nemesis. The Women’s Rugby Union tie will be an intriguing watch after a shock Hallam victory last year, while the Men’s Cricket and Women’s Cricket sides will both be confident of ending a run of Varsity defeats.
There are six points on offer for football, which could be decisive on the day. Hallam have typically dominated the two women’s games, so all eyes will be on the Men’s Football 1s fixture.
Sheffield were victorious in a thriller last year, overcoming Hallam 3-2 in a gripping tie. The year before saw another close-fought game, but with the same side celebrating success as Sheffield prevailed 1-0. However, a potent-looking Hallam side will be looking to turn the tables on their rivals and claim a vital point.
There will be drama aplenty at EIS, but the two previous editions of Varsity point to volleyball as the source of the most intrigue.
In 2015, Sheffield won the women’s event, with the Hallam men’s side securing a point. Last year, their fortunes were reveresed entirely. The goal for the Sheffield men is to provide a repeat performance, while the women will seek to take advantage of the topsy-turvy recent history of the event.
Women’s Hockey 3s
They are not the most likely of heroes, but the Women’s Hockey 3s have made a name for themselves by taking a unique place in Varsity history.
It was they who sealed Varsity triumph in 2015, a comfortable 4-0 thrashing claiming the winning point.
They managed to repeat the feat a year later, the timing of results elsewhere meaning their tense 2-2 draw was enough to drag Sheffield over the line.
To ‘win Varsity’ for the University of Sheffield three years in a row would defy all odds – but after the events of the last twelve months, who would bet against it?