There are few greater sporting extravaganzas on the south coast than the Varsity Cup and this year’s competition certainly did not disappoint. Despite an overall victory for Southampton on Portsmouth turf, spirits were high throughout the day and some of Pugwash’s budding sports journalists were present to grab a quick chat with players from both universities.
Sebastian, Basketball 1’s
PUGWASH: I’m joined by Sebastian from Basketball 1s. Tough loss today, how was it?
SEBASTIAN: It was a good game, it was fun. They had all the tools, good offence and lots of depth in their defence. It’s a shame because we just didn’t play well.
PUGWASH: How do you plan to bounce back from this defeat and move forward with your season?
SEBASTIAN: Just keep practising and hopefully get more people in the team next year, squad depth is always good. Once we get more members we will have a solid foundation we can build upon.
PUGWASH: Was this your first experience playing in varsity and if so how was it?
SEBASTIAN: It was my first time but what an amazing experience, so much support in the St Paul’s gym. Definitely the highest attendance for one of our games. It created a really fun experience.
PUGWASH: There’s a pretty intense rivalry between Portsmouth and Southampton. Did that play out on the court was there any disputes?
SEBASTIAN: It was a definitely a physical game, we knew Southampton would bring their A game and we tried to as well, they just did it better today. Their fans helped them a lot with the level of sport they provided. We don’t usually play against Southampton in our regular season but it was a great experience overall.
Women’s Fencing, Abbie representing Pompey and Alex representing Southampton
PUGWASH: Were you happy with how you played?
ABBIE: Yeah, absolutely! It was our first game and there’s only 3 of us, so it was good experience
ALEX: Yeah we did really well, we got some lovely hits in there so it was a really good match for us
PUGWASH: Do you have any weird pre-match routines?
ABBIE: As it’s our first match we haven’t got any yet
ALEX: I guess we developed one, cos we have a little mascot. It’s our beaver called Francoise. We put all our hands in the middle and just toss him in the air.
PUGWASH: Do you have a sporting idol?
ABBIE: No not really.
ALEX: I think our coaches to be honest because they’ve worked so hard.
Women’s Netball, Hannah Conaghan
PUGWASH: How do you think you played?
HANNAH: We played well, we weren’t expecting it to be as close as it was. At one point we were up by two but it’s one of those things.
PUGWASH: Do you have any weird pre-game rituals or routines that you do as a team?
HANNAH: We have a little chant at the start. So ‘1, 2, 3, Pompey!’ after our coach.
PUGWASH: It’s quite cute, though.
HANNAH: Yeah it gets everyone going and tries to be intimidating but I don’t know if we are!
PUGWASH: But it works in getting you guys going.
PUGWASH: Is this your first Varsity?
HANNAH: Fourth. I’m a master’s student.
PUGWASH: And you’ve played Netball since your first year?
HANNAH: Yeah, I love it.
PUGWASH: Do you have a sporting idol?
HANNAH: Ooh, nope. Not off of the top of my head!
PUGWASH: And just a last few questions, how important has it been to you in joining a sport at university?
HANNAH: It’s made it for me really!
PUGWASH: And what advice would you give to someone considering joining a sport?
HANNAH: Go for it. I tried Netball and Dodgeball in my first year just because everyone didn’t want to do it on their own so I was like why not? I don’t care. But definitely, I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t join Netball. I would have been so bored and my closest friends are all on netball.
PUGWASH: Brilliant, thank you!
Hassan Hack, Basketball
PUGWASH: I’m joined by Hassan Hack from Basketball 1’s. Disappointing loss today, how are you feeling?
HASSAN: It was a tough game, a lot of mistakes by our side and their side definitely came to play. Looking back we could have done better although we did start to bring it back in the second half. Just too little too late.
PUGWASH: Would you say that you were happy with your second half performance over your first? Also how do you feel about the game as a whole?
HASSAN: First half was not as good as we should have been. Defensively we broke down and offensively we were rushing. We started to get ourselves together in the second half but they were ahead by that time.
PUGWASH: Is this your first time playing in varsity? If so how was your experience?
HASSAN: This is actually my fourth time playing and my final one. Makes it a bit disappointing to lose considering the four years that we have played their first team we haven’t won. Sporting wise they were the better Uni today. It’s tough to compete with scholarship level players
PUGWASH: Did you have a strategy during the game?
HASSAN: We just came out to play today. In the huddle, we said we would play as hard as we can 100% and just have fun. The main goal was just to have fun and if we came out with the win, we came out with the win.
PUGWASH: How does this fixture rank up against previous year varsity fixtures?
HASSAN: I think this one wasn’t an accurate representation of how we performed! We lost by 40 odd points but it should have definitely been closer than that. This Southampton team was not as good the Southampton teams we have played in previous years. They lost some of their good players from last year but ultimately we didn’t get into the game in the first half which cost us.
Holly Conroy, Pole Dancing Beginners
PUGWASH: I’m joined by Holly Conroy who won her beginner Pole Dancing competition, how are you feeling?
HOLLY: I’m feeling very good! Very happy and confident!
PUGWASH: So talk me through the win, how was the competition?
HOLLY: I actually didn’t think I was going to win at first! I completely blanked and forgot a part of my routine because I was so nervous. Luckily I improved through it and worked myself out of that situation. I was so surprised when I won, I’m absolutely ecstatic!
PUGWASH: That’s great to hear! How did your team prepare for Varsity this year?
HOLLY: We work together really well as a unit. We train together in the activities room in the union and it gives all the girls a chance to give advice and feedback on our routines. We work day and night to make sure the routines are perfect.
PUGWASH: Really? Is there any particular strategy you guys take when preparing your routine?
HOLLY: There’s no particular strategy really, we pick a song that we want to dance to. Because that song relates to you and you like it the dance comes to you naturally. You just start to feel ‘it’ and it just starts to flow.
PUGWASH: I’ve been waiting to ask this next question all day! Do you think that there is a drinking culture associated with university sport and if so do you think it draws attention away from the sport?
HOLLY: I think there definitely is. You can’t deny that there is a drinking culture related to university sport. But is it really a bad thing? It’s a part of the university spirit! It’s another way for spectators to get involved in the atmosphere and helps us to celebrate! I personally didn’t drink any alcohol till after my competition was done and the results were in. My competition and performance came first and always will. However, once it was over, of course I wanted a drink! It was my time to celebrate! I don’t think people drink to ruin their sport, I think they want to celebrate and get rid of some of that nervous energy.
PUGWASH: Fair enough! Is this your first varsity? Will you be back here next year?
HOLLY: I’m actually in my final year so this will be my last appearance but I have been every single year. Competing this year was new to me, though! I thoroughly enjoyed it.
David Jackson and Tom Rents – Tchoukball
PUGWASH: Hey guys, congratulations on the victory! Can you summarise your result for us?
DAVID: We started pretty slowly but then came back in the last third. We were five points down then but ended five points up so that worked out okay.
PUGWASH: How have you guys prepared for Varsity this year?
DAVID: We’ve just been practising and making sure that we were ready. We know the Southampton team quite well and we know what their style of play is so we tried to match that or at least make sure that we were ready for it. We know who can shoot where and how so we just tried to plan ahead in advance for that. It’s lucky that we know them really, it’s not like football where you don’t always know who you’re coming up against.
PUGWASH: Do you guys have any slightly strange pre-match routines or rituals that you like to carry out?
DAVID: Everybody gets together at the end and does a little chant like ‘1, 2, 3, Pompey!’ and other things like that, but I always make sure that I have a banana and a paracetamol before the game and then I’m ready for anything.
PUGWASH: Have you guys had any BUCS fixtures this year?
DAVID: No, unfortunately, there’s not enough Uni teams to make BUCS so we just play in the national league against other teams from the UK?
PUGWASH: Oh okay that’s cool, how have you got on this season then?
DAVID: We’re third at the moment, we were top of the league for a while but then we lost two games against teams that are now above us so it’s going to be a tough end to the season.
PUGWASH: Do you have many more games then?
DAVID: We’ve got two more rounds and then finals weekend, a good couple more months that’s for sure.
TOM: We’ve actually got regional fixtures tomorrow too!
DAVID: Yeah that’s going to be horrible actually, 10 o’clock start in Fareham! Especially after today’s win which is actually my first in Varsity so we’re definitely going to be out later tonight.
PUGWASH: With that in mind, what would you say is your favourite part of Varsity each year?
TOM: I think it’s always good to beat Southampton just because we know them so well. We play them four or five times a year so we always revel in the opportunity to get a win.
DAVID: When you lose to Southampton at Varsity you don’t hear anything else apart from that for the rest of the year!
PUGWASH: How intense is the sporting rivalry between Portsmouth and Southampton then, what was the atmosphere like out there today?
DAVID: It’s a friendly rivalry, Tchoukball’s a different sport because there’s a lot of etiquette so if the referee awards a point that you know shouldn’t have been awarded, you’re encouraged to give it and no-one minds. With Tchoukball being a more friendly sport we get on with Southampton quite well, a lot of us train together for team UK and things like that so we all know each other quite well. Normally it’s fine, it’s meant to be a sport where you’re open about dodgy decisions and try to avoid arguing with the officials. Like you can be sent off for arguing with the referee once.
PUGWASH: So have you been satisfied with the level of officiating today?
DAVID: Yeah we think so. I mean Tchoukball’s always going to be difficult because there’s always calls that you’re not sure are right and thing like that but at the same time it can go in your favour as well.
TOM: It was pretty even overall, there were one or two bad calls for both sides but the referee’s didn’t cost us the game or anything like that.
PUGWASH: Now something a bit more light-hearted to end, if animals took over the world and humanity ceased to exist, what animal would be best at Tchoukball and why?
TOM: I would go for a kangaroo.
TOM: Just think how high it could jump and how useful that would be.
DAVID: The thing is though they have little arms, but they have got the pouch. To be fair, a kangaroo then yeah. If you just have the pouch there then you can just catch the ball even if it rebounds. Kangaroo, easily!
PUGWASH: Thanks a lot guys, enjoy the rest of your day!