Much-missed Welsh Varsity returns to capital after four long years

Swansea and Cardiff universities to renew their sporting rivalry for the first time since before lockdown

ONE of the biggest sporting rivalries in the UK returns in April as Cardiff and Swansea battle it in the Welsh Varsity.

Students will compete in more than 30 sports to hold the bragging rights for the next 12 months.

What is a varsity?

An abbreviation of the word university, a varsity is when two rival universities, such as Oxford v Cambridge, compete over one day across many sports. Students showcase their talent and entertain thousands who come and watch.

The Welsh Varsity between Cardiff and Swansea has been held since 1997, with the universities taking turns to hosting.

Due to the pandemic, this is the first time Cardiff has hosted Welsh Varsity since 2019, with Swansea set to arrive in the Welsh capital on Wednesday, April 26.

History of the games

Since the event began 25 years ago, the highlight has been the men’s rugby union match. International stars like Alun Wyn Jones, Richie Pugh and Dwayne Peel have all played.

In that time, Swansea have won 15 to Cardiff’s nine, with one draw. Cardiff had the most dominating victory when they beat Swansea 78-7 in the Principality Stadium four years ago.

Despite Cardiff losing the men’s rugby game last year in the Stadium, Cardiff won the tournament overall 29-15, with Swansea looking for revenge this time round.

Football, cricket, basketball, netball, hockey, fencing, and frisbee, are some of the other sports that the hundreds of students will compete in.

What does Welsh Varsity mean to the universities?

According to the sports officer for Swansea University, Jonathan Davies, Varsity means the world. “Going into each tournament as the underdog, we’re always out to prove people wrong,” he said.

“We stay highly motivated due to our rivalry with Cardiff,” he told The Cardiffian.

“It’s the biggest event in the calendar for the athletes and students who come and watch. The games transcend sport, with everyone getting involved and taking over the host city for a good night out.”

Over lockdown the universities held virtual varsities in which students filmed themselves doing different sporting challenges, but it was just not the same and Swansea is excited about meeting again on the pitch.

“We’ve come on a long way since last year, I’d say we’re unrecognisable. I’m feeling a lot more confident but either way it’s going to be an amazing experience for all involved,” said Mr Davies.

Cardiff University is also relishing the prospect.

Athletic Union president Olivia Evans said: “It is so exciting to have Varsity back in Cardiff after four years away and I have no doubt that Team Cardiff will be on top form for this monumental home fixture.

“This year we will be giving the Cardiff leg of the fixture a fresh look and feel with some exciting new developments planned for the day, we can’t wait to announce those in the coming weeks.”

  • Tickets for the event are yet to be released, but more details can be found here.