At 8am Sunday morning over 100 Loughborough IMS players began their journey north to Durham for the second ever Hall Sport Varsity competition between the two universities. Some of Loughborough’s teams may have been a little depleted through injury and unavailability, but huge amounts of work had been put in to finding replacements that we knew would do us proud.
While the day began in disappointing fashion with a defeat in badminton, Loughborough soon bounced back with a victory in women’s football (a late winning goal setting the tone for the day!) and a comprehensive 62-24 victory by Holt’s men’s basketball team over Collingwood.
With Loughborough now leading 2-1, it was over to Holt’s netballers. They matched Durham goal for goal right up to the last quarter; even going 19-18 up in freezing, windy conditions before Durham pulled away to win 22-19. All was to play for as we headed inside to warm up and watch the women’s basketball. Loughborough stormed into a 20-2 lead at half time but were pegged back through a number of 3 pointers and excellent play by Josephine Butler College. The tension was palpable in front of an enormous crowd of noisy Loughborough supporters as Durham clawed closer and closer. Eventually the whistle went, Loughborough breathing a sigh of relief as they claimed a nail-biting 28-27 victory.
In the meantime, an incredible first half was underway in the men’s football between Elvyn Richards and St Cuthberts, which saw the teams go in level at 3-3. Defences were much tighter in the second half and as time ticked away, it looked certain that we would be heading to extra-time. Sadly it was not to be though and Durham scored a great goal with only three minutes left to gain revenge for their women’s football defeat.
With only three fixtures left to play, it was over to hockey and rugby to decide where the trophy would reside for the next year. Women’s hockey was up first, but two goals in the first half condemned our Telford and Falk Egg combined team to defeat; still a great effort as they had to step up to 11-a-side hockey when they are used to playing 7-a-side in IMS. Rugby quickly brought Loughborough back level though with a resounding 50-15 defeat of Collingwood; Durham’s overall college champions for the last six years and a rugby team that had only lost one fixture in the previous two years!
After five hours of competition everything rested on men’s hockey match. A Faraday and Telford combined team would do battle for Loughborough, but it was Durham who took the lead against the run of play in the first half. Buoyed by great support in Arctic conditions and after two successive short corners, Loughborough were rewarded with a deserved equaliser. Immediately afterwards, they had a great chance to really put the pressure on Durham but we could all only watch helplessly as Loughborough’s penalty flick was saved by the Durham keeper.
It wasn’t to be our day and soon after we were punished for that miss, as with less than five minutes remaining Durham broke Loughborough hearts and scored what proved to be the winning goal. Unsurprisingly gutted by how close they had come, this was nonetheless a fantastic effort and Loughborough’s IMS representatives did not only their halls but the whole university proud. It wasn’t just the quality of play on show but also the sportsmanship and spectatorship that Durham confessed to being unsurprisingly envious of. We look forward to welcoming Durham back to campus next year and hopefully we will take that trophy back off them too!