Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Roses 2012: The pre-weekend skirmish

Nine. The 2012 Roses weekend showdown between York and Lancaster is now just nine days away. Getting excited? I certainly am. But believe it or not there are Roses events which are taking place before the 4-6 May slog. This is a traditional scheduling feature of the competition and this year the pre-weekend events to look out for are rowing, equestrian and cricket 2nds. Undoubtedly the most important of this trio is the rowing, with a full 20 points up for grabs. So even at this very early stage, one side could open up a handy advantage going into the weekend.

Event: Rowing    Date: Sunday 29th April    Points at stake: 20

Overview: The University of York Boat Club (UYBC) will be in action in four races this Sunday along the River Lune, which flows southwards from Cumbria, cutting through the city of Lancaster before draining into the Irish Sea near Plover Scar. The races will begin at the River Lune Aqueduct and finish near the John O’ Gaunt boat club – a distance of 700 metres. And there is already good news on the rowing front; Lancaster have forfeited the races involving the Women’s Senior VIII (4 points) and Women’s Novice IV (2 points), meaning York already leads Lancaster in Roses 2012 by 6 points.

The Lune Aqueduct, starting point for the Roses 2012 boat race

Rowing was the first ever event at Roses back in 1965 and has been one of the most captivating; going into this year’s events, York lead Lancaster by the slender margin of 20 races to 19. However, the event has not been without a fair chunk of controversy over the years. In 2008, the York men’s novice crew thought they had won, but the umpires had told them the incorrect point for the finishing line. UYBC President at the time, Jillian Tongue, was understandably furious with the poor officiating provided by Lancaster. And some current students may remember when Lancaster was awarded 12 points in 2010, after York had to pull out because the BUCS Head Regatta was held on the same weekend.

This year, with the forfeit advantage, UYBC will be clear favourites to better their Lancaster counterparts and have won their previous two races against them. In 2009, York collected 12 points to Lancaster’s 8, thanks to wins for the men’s senior IV, men’s senior VIII as well as both novice races. In 2011, both senior VIII teams triumphed in addition to the men’s senior IV and novice VIII crews as York beat Lancaster 12-8 again. Frank Flight and Philippa Maloney will have crucial roles in motivating the squad, who will also look to the talents of Oliver Degerstadt for inspiration.

Event: Equestrian    Date: Wednesday 3rd May    Points at stake: 6

Overview: At university level equestrian, riders from both teams are randomly assigned their horse and the event is divided into two challenges. ‘Dressage’ involves the riders attempting a series of movements with the horse in a 20m x 60m arena. The team which controls their horse most convincingly and accumulates the fewest penalty points is the winner. The second challenge is the exciting show jump, with the jumps in most cases being up to a metre high. Last year, York were somewhat unlucky with their horses as, between the two teams, three riders were disqualified as their horses refused to jump, meaning Lancaster edged York 4-2.

This year, the event is being held at Midgeland Riding School in Blackpool and, despite a very tough year in BUCS, club President Hannah Wigley is in optimistic mood: "We've had some fantastic individual results, including last year's A Team Captain, Kate Ward, qualifying for individual regionals, as well as our A Team beating the reigning champions, Leeds, in the closing competition of the league."

On the horses being used, Wigley admitted: "Using Lancaster's horses will give them a slight advantage as they will have gotten to know the horses through training with them. However the nature of our competitions means that you often ride horses you've never ridden before."
Roses equestrian has been a rather less controversial sport than rowing over the years, although there were issues back in 2006. Lancaster were stripped of the maximum 6 points they thought they had won from the event after it was discovered one of the umpires was unqualified and was giving the home side an excessive amount of points. Let’s hope similar issues don’t affect this year’s competition.

Event: Men’s cricket 2nds    Date: Thursday 4th May    Points at stake: 2

Overview: York’s cricket 2nd team has not played at all so far this season thanks to the wretched weather we’re getting at the moment. Nevertheless, the team are looking in decent shape as they prepare for what may be their first match against Lancaster next Thursday. Captain Ben Cooke says the team has had several indoor net sessions and a couple of fielding sessions on 22 Acres. The squad has been bolstered this year by the arrival of a number of freshers, but the team will be relying on the experience of two players in particular against Lancaster. Post-graduate student Nick Townson is an excellent top-order batsman with exquisite technique while Will Smith, the first change metronomic bowler, will surely take the wickets for York as well as being reliable with the bat.

In terms of recent history, the 2nds have been rather unlucky on several occasions. In 2006, the team lost by a single wicket in the final over of the match and were also defeated last year by three wickets. However, the current crop will have to remember the class of 2009. Stephen Walwyn and Adam Wood were the batsmen clocking up the runs to hand York victory with four wickets to spare, with Lancaster all out for just 141. This year, don’t be surprised if the match goes down to the wire.

You can find a host of Roses previews written by University of York sports clubs themselves, as well as details on the Roses Torch relay, at York Vision's Roses 2012 page: 

The view the official fixture list for Roses 2012, you can visit: 

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