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More Rugby stories...London 2012? Err…Surely You Mean Surrey 2012!
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Published 1st May 2012
When we step on the pitch,
This is what we see:
Everybody jealous - wanting to be Surrey.
We got an awesome Sports Park and we aint afraid to show it, show it, show it, show it
We’re Surrey and we know it.
Sorry about the tenuous LMFAO link to start this article, I won’t do it again. The point is, last month Team Surrey took on the Kingston Cougars on a beautiful day at the Surrey Sports Park. Once again, as a vital cog in Surrey University’s sports media machine, I took it upon myself to cover the event, first for GU2 Radio and now for The Stag.
As temperatures soared above twenty degrees (any international students reading this, that is definite short shorts weather for us Brits…although I chose black jeans), a summer feel was in the air as Surrey and Kingston prepared to do battle. Perhaps symbolically, the high temperatures were synonymous of Team Surrey’s form on the day. Ultimately, they were far too hot to handle for Kingston, with Surrey running out 55-28 winners.
The day started with a sense of nervous anticipation, not just because I was on the Starbucks balcony, in dangerous proximity to both a beer stand and valuable radio equipment, but because the day was about to begin. For weeks, both the competitors and spectators had been geared up for the event, and the atmosphere continued to build until Varsity 2012 kicked off. As the barbecues continued to fire and the beer continued to flow, one couldn’t escape both the feeling of summer and also the sense of fun involved in what was, despite the competition, a day filled with banter and light-heartedness.
For us at GU2 Radio covering the event, we were given instructions not to give out the scores, so that we could continue the feeling of tension and an almost dictator-like implementation of censorship. Not that anyone was complaining, right up until 6 o’clock, events were well attended as people scurried around for information, desperate to see their friends, to support their teams and to dish out the odd bit of abuse to Kingston. Given the shackles of neutrality due to my broadcasting position (and Kingston’s admirably large support), I was unable to be too vociferous in my support of Surrey. Anyone who was at Varsity will know that this is a huge lie, as I took any opportunity to roar encouragement/sabotage Kingston’s hopes wherever possible.
Even approaching early evening, no-one seemed to know how the day was shaping up, but it seemed like it was going to be a close finish, as crowds flocked from one match to the next, told that their support could make the difference where the games were tight. The fact it wasn’t tight didn’t make much difference, the tension was still palpable.
One match which summed up the close competition and the pride at stake was the Rugby Union match between Surrey’s and Kingston’s 1st XV’s. Surrey have gone through the whole year unbeaten, topping their league in style to secure promotion, before winning the Cup to take the Double.
But, for all their confidence and form, the home side found the going difficult against Kingston, who led by twelve points with not long to go. Despite narrowing the deficit to just five points, time was running out for Surrey and try as they might, they could not force a decisive score.
However, with seconds remaining, Surrey scrambled over the line for a try which levelled the scores. Cue ecstatic celebrations on the touchline, cue hands on hips from Kingston, cue me nearly getting set upon by fifteen huge blokes for being a bit too exuberant in my celebrations. Due to the try, Surrey had a difficult kick to win the match. A collective intake of breath was taken by all around the pitch, this was it. For all the world the kick looked in, but at the last minute, the angle and the wind forced it wider, onto the inside of the post and – for Kingston – away to safety. As the dust settled, everyone reflected upon what was a tremendous match, which I found synonymous of the occasion, but even more synonymous was the mutual applause and handshakes given out by the competitors at the end.
The result coincided with a news update on the balcony. For those of you who know the Sports Park, I had to run from the furthest Rugby pitch to the Starbucks balcony in about thirty seconds. I made it - due to my sheer tenacity - but I am still knackered – due to my shocking lack of fitness. Sweating (did I mention how hot it was?) and gasping for breath, I informed those on the balcony of the cracker they had just missed. Which didn’t really help anyone. Least of all me. Stupid black jeans.
Anyway, 6 o’clock finally came. Results time. Taking to the main hall, myself and Sam Limbert stood in front of baying Surrey and Kingston supports. But I wasn’t scared, I’m professional. Before the results, there was the cheerleading head-to-head, followed by the tug-of-war, both of which were won by Kingston. At this point, the atmosphere in the arena was electric, as the away supporters sensed their team could claim glory at our own Sports Park. Imagine that. However, as the results were read out (wonderfully well in my opinion) one-by-one, Surrey began increasing their lead, so much so that – even with a few results to go – there was a party atmosphere in the arena and an optimism I could almost smell…or maybe that was sweat.
Eventually, the final score (amended since) was read out, confirming Surrey as victors, and the celebrations began. LMFAO’s song rang out loud for everyone to sing to and as Surrey’s winners began parading the trophy, all with huge smiles, Kingston had to quietly make for the exits.
So, what a day! To all those who took part, well done, you did your University very proud! My closing thought though is a big congratulations to all those who organised the event. Well done to the Students Union, well done to the Surrey Sports Park, well done to the organisers, to the barbecue providers and everyone else. Their unseen work made the whole event possible and should not be forgotten.
However, last but not least is my admiration for my colleagues at GU2 Radio, with James Bale, James Hall, Mehdy Vaezi, the girls from Three’s a Crowd, Abdulrahman and Sam Limbert working their collective socks off (what an image that is). We worked very hard throughout the day but it was more than worth it to maybe, just maybe, be a contributor to Team Surrey’s success.