This Wednesday sees the highlight of the Welsh Student rugby calendar, the Welsh Varsity match between Swansea and Cardiff Universities at the Millennium Stadium (Weds 20th March, KO 7.00pm).
Now in its fifteenth year, the Welsh Varsity started as a rugby match organised to raise money for Oxfam, it has now become the biggest University sporting event in Wales.
This year the rugby match will be played for the first time in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff with kick off at 7.35pm.The first Welsh Varsity rugby match was played in 1997, in the Welsh capital at Cardiff Arms Park. Over the years that followed, the Varsity match was held alternatively at Cardiff Arms Park and St Helens, the home of Swansea Rugby Club, and also, on neuteral territory at the Brewery Field in Bridgend. In 2010, the match was played at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.
Since the first match in 1997, Swansea have dominated the event winning nine out of 14 games. However, in recent years, Cardiff have been turning the tide, with wins in both 2008 and 2009.
Ospreys such as Alun Wyn Jones and Richie Pugh have worn the green and white of Swansea University in recent years, and in 2007 Swansea fielded no less than 11 Internationals at varying age grades.
Swansea University have a very proud history and under former Wales Assistant Coach, Stan Addicott enjoyed many years of success winning the British University Championship and appearing at the Twickenham final on numerous occasions.
They come into the game on the back of a good season to date,and look to retain the Varsity trophy. Under current head coach, Richard Lancaster, the team are enjoying a revival, climbing back into the British University Premiership and this year gaining many notable victories such as a double over Hartpury College (coached by ex Welsh Coach Allan Lewis) and victories over teams such as UWIC, Bristol, Bath and Exeter, and are currently second in the BUCS Premier League.
Lancaster combines the role with his commitments to the Ospreys as Head Coach of the newly formed U20 squad. Of the current squad, 14 have played Premiership Rugby this year and of the matchday squad 11 have been through the Ospreys development system.
There is a real Ospreys influence on the team, with Lancaster getting assistance in the coaching team from Steve Mellalieu, who works with the region in the field of sports psychology, and current Ospreys Coach Development Officer, Tony Thomas.
WELSH VARSITY – THE RECORD SO FAR
- 1996 - Swansea Win - 23-11
- 1998 - Swansea Win - 49-13
- 1999 - Swansea Win - 17-13
- 2000 - Swansea Win - 28-18
- 2001 - Draw - 10-10
- 2002 - Swansea Win - 21-3
- 2003 - Cardiff Win - 18-12
- 2004 - Swansea Win - 21-3
- 2005 - Swansea Win - 16-8
- 2006 - Cardiff Win - 15-5
- 2007 - Swansea Win - 18-0
- 2008 - Cardiff Win - 19-9
- 2009 - Cardiff Win - 9-6
- 2010 - Swansea Win - 16-12
For those who would like to go along to the game, tickets are £10 and will be available on Gates 2 and 3 on the day from 4.00pm-6.00pm.
For those unable to attend in person, the game will be broadcast live of S4C.