The red rose bloomed brightly with the sweet smell of success at the weekend as Lancaster University triumphed over old rivals York in the annual war of the Roses.
The highly popular sporting tournament, which includes everything from ballroom dancing to American football, resulted in a 183.5 win for Lancaster with York reaching a creditable 142.5 points.
The means the long-standing clash stands at York 25, Lancaster 24 with one draw.
And at the end of the Students’ Union-organised event Lancaster lifted the Carter James Trophy. This was presented to the home team by Lancaster Vice Chancellor Professor Mark E. Smith. Chancellor Sir Chris Bonington, attending his last Roses event as Chancellor, also presented several trophies.
The Roses got underway on Friday evening with a student-led opening ceremony on the rugby pitch, which had been converted into a stadium, complete with banks of seating tiers, especially for the weekend.
Student spectators, who all donned Roses ‘I am Lancaster’ T-shirts presenting a dramatic red sea swathe, swarmed onto the banking next to the sports centre to watch the spectacle.
The University of Lancaster Music Society Wind Band, conducted by Chris Osborn and Ben Shreeve, opened the show, which also included Lancaster University Cheerleaders, Dance and Magic and Illusionist Societies.
Without doubt the star of the show was third year English and History student Alex Varey, who gave a powerful rendition of ‘Let Me Entertain You’.
After a band fanfare and fireworks, Sir Chris welcomed both York and Lancaster football team players individually onto the pitch. He was accompanied by Lancaster’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for colleges and the student experience Professor Amanda Chetwynd and Lancaster University Students’ Union Vice President (Activities) Emily Pollitt and York Sports President Cass Brown.
The match resulted in a 2-2 draw with York scoring to equalise in the last two minutes of the game.
During the weekend 3000 competitors took part in 120 fixtures covering 40 different activities.
Word filtered through that Lancaster had won by mid-afternoon on the Sunday. It was the women’s basketball team, at the end of a great season, who clinched the four points needed to take the certain lead.
“It's so exciting that we have won the 50th roses competition!” said Emily Pollitt. “I’m so proud of the teams and all the effort they have put in in the run up to roses. All the staff who made this happen worked so hard and it really paid off. I'm biased but I think it was one of the best roses ever! We had so many supporters including members of the public and I think the purpose-built campus stadium was a fantastic addition to the weekend!”
Event Project Manager James Marenghi was also thrilled that everything went off so smoothly.
“Everyone did really well and we were particularly pleased to see wins for the netball, badminton and lacrosse teams this year,” he said. “The atmosphere in the swimming pool area on the Saturday was really amazing as people had gathered to watch the water polo and swimming events.
“For us particularly it was really great to see so many people on campus to support the teams – staff, alumni and members of the local community. It was the best community presence we have ever had for Roses.”
One of the closing matches of the weekend was the traditional Vice Chancellors’ challenge which, this year, saw a bowling event. York’s Professor Koen Lamberts proved to be a dab hand at the game when he took on Lancaster’s Professor Mark E. Smith. The match, in which Lancaster’s Chancellor Sir Chris Bonington also took part, resulted in a close 21-19 final score for York.
“This was a truly excellent Roses event,” said Professor Smith. “The camaraderie, the highly detailed organisation and, of course, Lancaster’s win in its 50th year made it all so very special and memorable. Well done Lancaster and our thanks to the Students’ Union for staging such a spectacular event.”