University Of Bristol Varsity

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University Of Bristol Varsity

Each year over 1,500 students from the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE) go head to head over a series of sporting events organised by the Students’ Unions of both Universities.

These students compete in their chosen sport against their closest rivals whilst raising money for local charities. In the last five years the event has raised in excess of £50,000 for local charities & each Students’ Union.

Varsity promotes what both universities can offer to the city of Bristol, in the name of fun, rivalry and friendship.

This year’s Varsity Series will be the first run in association with Bristol-headquartered Unite Students, the UK’s largest student accommodation provider, who are the main sponsor of the event.

The Series is also taking place in the year where Bristol has been recognised as the European City of Sport.

Varsity Boat Race

Since its inaugural race in 1995 the rowing event has taken on a prestige of its own, with UWE and Bristol two of the biggest rowing Universities in the country.

In the early years the event would not have been possible without the passion, drive and expertise of a select few, but one individual in particular. That individual, Chris Della-Porta, was both a UWE alumnus and a member of University of Bristol sports department staff. Chris coordinated the boat race for nearly a decade from the event’s inception.

The event is held in the historical Bristol Docks, starting near the Pump House in Hotwells and finishing at Canon’s Wharf Amphitheatre in the centre of Bristol, and the event is recognised as the flagship of the series of sporting challenges over the academic year.

Over the years the event has changed format. Between 1997-2002 and again in 2006 the University of Bath, Exeter and UCL, Cardiff, Swansea, Southampton, Warwick and Birmingham joined in. 2012 saw the events biggest development to date by moving the hosting of the event to the southside of the harbourside providing clearer views of the course for the spectators.

2002 and 2003 saw the appearance of arguably the events most famous son, Pete Reed MBE. In 2002 Pete rowed in UWE’s novice and senior boat in the 6 seat having only picked up rowing a couple of months before. Pete went on to row in the Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race in 2005 and become double Olympic Champion for Great Britain in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics in the Men’s coxless four. Will it be third time lucky for Pete in Rio 2016?

Varsity Rugby

In the six years that Varsity Rugby match was co-ordinated by Oxfam from its inception in 1996-2002, the event raised over £50,000.

In 2003 the event was co-ordinated in its entirety by both Students’ Unions for the first time with one of the largest Varsity attendances to date with over 4,500 spectators from both universities and the local community. The event has always been held at the Memorial Stadium with the exception of one year where it was held at Clifton RFC in 2001 and the one year that the event was postponed due to inclement weather.

Varsity Rugby boasts some of Rugby Union’s international greats:

  • Simon Shaw MBE [UWE] – England & GB Lions 2003 World Cup Winner
  • Kyran Bracken MBE [Bristol & UWE] – England 2003 World Cup Winner
  • Josh Lewsey MBE [Bristol] – England & GB Lions 2003 World Cup Winner
  • Hugo Southwell [UWE] – Scotland
  • Alex King [Bristol] – England
  • Marco Stanojevic [UWE] – Italy
  • Frasier Waters [Bristol] – England
  • Sophie Hemming [Bristol] – England 2014 World Cup Winner
  • James Cordy-Redden [UWE] – England 7’s