Thursday 28th March 2019

Scottish Conference Finals 2019

The largest student sport event in Scotland took place once again at the University of St. Andrews yesterday as competitors made their way to the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) Scottish Conference Finals 2019.

The stage was set, surrounded by the historic town of St. Andrews as Saints Sport welcomed us once again to Fife. The 600-year-old university, which stands as Scotland’s first University, had no trouble welcoming the volume of students, sports, and spectators in their £14m redevelopment.

“Here at St. Andrews we’ve invested a great deal in Sport in recent years, not just in our facilities but in our staff and our commitment to making a positive contribution locally, nationally and internationally,” said Stephen Stewart, Director of Sport and Exercise.

“We’re very proud of that and equally proud to be able to welcome the SSS network to St. Andrews for such a fantastic festival of competitive sport. SSS Conference Finals is such a highlight of the calendar for so many students and it’s no less of a highlight for us, we’re delighted to be part of such a fantastic event as host, as well as competitors!”

Over 500 student-athletes turned up fully kitted out to compete for the title of Scottish Conference Final winner in 9 different sports and we asked the coordinators of each area in the sports’ centre to give us their highlights …

Indoor

A jam-packed schedule for the Tennis Centre, Sports Hall, and Arena across the day. Electric could very easily describe the Sports Arena with Netball and Basketball action, accompanied by DJ Ellingtone, drawing large crowds and team supporters.

“Conference Finals is such a highlight of the calendar for so many students and it’s no less of a highlight for us, we’re delighted to be part of such a fantastic event as host, as well as competitor!”

Queen Margaret University and the University of Aberdeen claimed the win for the Plate and Cup respectively. Basketball followed with Edinburgh Napier University claiming the women’s title. The men’s match was closely contested but in the end, the University of the West of Scotland secured a win with their awarded MVP scoring 44 points himself!

First up in the Indoor Tennis Centre, the University of Strathclyde and the University of Dundee Women’s teams were battling for the win. The Dundee ladies secured two wins in the doubles matches against a fierce Strathclyde who demonstrated their skills in the singles event which saw both teams securing two wins. In the end, the Cup went to the Dundee team four points to two and were presented their medals by the University of Strathclyde’s Sport President, Alex Brock.After a slight delay to the programme, the University of Stirling and the Robert Gordon Universities Men’s teams were underway. It was a great display of student tennis with one of the doubles matches going to a tie-break in the second set, securing the two doubles wins to Stirling. RGU had a tough task on their hands to get the points even moving into the singles matches, however, managed to secure a point on court two. Alas, Stirling dominated adding another three points to their score and Caitlin (University of Stirling’s Sport President) crowned the Men’s team the Conference Cup winners, with five points to one.

The Sports Hall saw fantastic energy and activity throughout the day, starting off with what turned out to be a stormer of a comeback from the University of St. Andrews Badminton Club. Saints clinched the title of Mixed Cup Champions over Robert Gordon University with an overall 7-5 win. A fantastic effort to both teams but a smashing win of home turf for Saints!

The afternoon buzz was in full flow with a well fought women’s volleyball match between Stirling and RGU. With Stirling up 2 sets to 1, the fourth set looked as though RGU could have taken the game to a fifth set, however, Stirling pulled it out the bag with a 10 point streak at the very end to grab the title with both hands! Chiara Callegari of the winning team then went on to be named MVP of the match.

Stirling took to the court again but this time for the Men’s Volleyball final where they took on Strathclyde. The team from the West put in a great performance but Stirling came out in full force – not only on the court but with a hall full of supporters – to provide an electric atmosphere as they took the win in three straight sets. Jed Hunter of Stirling was the stand out MVP of the match who was a crucial piece of the jigsaw in seeing Stirling walk away with both Volleyball Conference titles.

Outdoor

Sports(wo)manship was the running theme in the Women’s Lacrosse and Women’s Rugby. After a hard-fought loss to Edinburgh 4s, Strathclyde 1s #13, Nadia Morris, was voted MVP for her relentless efforts throughout the Lacrosse Cup Final. A similar story unfolded on the rugby pitch as Edinburgh 2s took the victory over a strong Strathclyde 1s. For her fantastic play and spirit, fly-half Bethan Cameron of Strathclyde, was awarded the MVP.

Edinburgh Napier and Abertay took to the rugby pitch on for a hotly contested, emotional match. With Napier up 21-10 at the half, Abertay stormed back to bring themselves within two points but sadly, fell short of completing the comeback, with the final score ending at 33 – 31 for Edinburgh Napier.

The first of our three football matches of the day, the Men’s Conference Plate, seemed to start a trend of extremely close fixtures, as it needed to go to penalties after remaining 1-1 after extra time to determine a winner. In the end, Heriot-Watt 3rd came out on top, defeating Edinburgh 5th 3 – 1  on penalties.

Meanwhile, in the Men’s Cup, Aberdeen pulled out ahead early, going up 2 – 0 only 20 mins in the game before adding another at the beginning of the season half. Strathclyde were not phased by being down to 10 men, and put 1 away late in the game. However, that would be the final goal we would see, with Aberdeen taking home the Cup with a final score of 3 – 1.

The Women’s Football Cup Final turned out to be a spectacle as Stirling 2s took on RGU 1s! With no score at half-time, Stirling sneaked in the opener closely followed by RGU at the 60 minute mark. A stalemate ensued until RGU inched ahead in the closing minutes of the game only to be answered by a Stirling strike. After close play during extra-time, Stirling eventually lifted the cup following a nail-biting penalty shoot-out finale.

In the Hockey, the sun shone down on the sand dressed pitch at Saints Sport as Glasgow Women 4s and Edinburgh Women 7s warmed up and discussed tactics in hushed tones. After a toss of the coin, the eagerly awaited walk out and shaking of hands, the Women’s Hockey Plate got underway under the expert umpiring of Gavin Cruickshanks and Lewis White. The first half saw Glasgow score the opening goal, swiftly followed by an Edinburgh equaliser. This was to be the theme for the majority of the game, with Edinburgh matching Glasgow’s goal-scoring efforts. Spectators and coaches alike were biting their nails as we entered the final minutes, nervously anticipating the match going to penalty flicks. Until, with only minutes to spare, Edinburgh sneaked a shot past the Glasgow goalie and the place erupted in a sea of navy and dark green. All that was left was for Edinburgh to put up a strong defence and not let any balls get past their own keeper and the cup was theirs. Aoife Byrne of the University of Edinburgh was awarded the MVP award for her excellent skill and play, presented to her by Michael Webster (Sports Coordinator at Edinburgh University Sports Union).

The second hockey match of the day was the eagerly anticipated Women’s Cup Final, between Aberdeen Women 1s and Stirling Women 1s. As the crowds gathered at the side of the pitch, there was an air of expectation but also a feeling of coming to the end of the road, the culmination of a journey. Indeed, for a number of the players on the pitch this would be their last match for their respective universities, with graduations looming, and so all wanted to finish with a victory and no skill would be spare; determination and passion ran through the veins of all involved. After only a few minutes, Aberdeen were to lose their captain Julie Caton to injury, but they held their nerve and went on to score the opening goal. A lot of play ensued thereafter with excellent attacking and defending from both teams but no goals were scored. Aberdeen started to dream of victory, when the undeterred Stirling team, led by captain Lucy Inglis equalised in the second half. The last few minutes proved tense but when at full time there remained a draw, the women lined up to take their penalty flicks. Stirling snuck past Aberdeen in the shoot out to take the victory, with a final score of 4-3. Following the medal ceremony, we called out Niamh Barrie from the Aberdeen Women’s team to present the Stirling team with the Cup. As well as playing for the university hockey team, Niamh has done a fantastic job as Sports Officer for Aberdeen University Students Association and been a part of the SSS Sabbaticals group and it felt only fitting to see her present both the Cup and the MVP award to hugely talented Jess Hurley of the University of Stirling.

As the sun moved round the pitch and the table umpires found themselves in the shade, donning their warmer layers, hosts St Andrews 1s lined up in front of their dugout to face Dundee 1s. Following the toss of the coin and the walkout, the players took up their respective positions, doing a few last minutes stretches, ready to do battle for the final hockey match of the day, the Men’s Cup. After a stumble at the start with a very near miss, St Andrews scored the first goal, which would set the tone for the entire match. Despite their best efforts, Dundee 1s didn’t manage to put a goal past the excellent St Andrews keeper and the Battle of T0ayside and Fife looked very much one-sided, with Saints taking an epic 9-0 victory at the final whistle. Jamie Carnegie (Director of Hockey for the University of St Andrews) presented the Cup to his victorious team, much to the delight of the rapturous crowds that had gathered pitch side.

Mascot Race

Perhaps the highlight for most of the spectators, and certainly the staff and volunteers in attendance, was the Mascot Race. With entries doubling from last year it was sure to be a tight race. In the lanes we had:

  1. Dumyat the Dog – University of Stirling 🐶
  2. Hector the Panda – The University of Edinburgh 🐼
  3. Strathosaurus the Dinosaur  – University of Strathclyde 🦕
  4. Bobby the Boar – Robert Gordon University 🐗
  5. Piper the Penguin – University of Dundee 🐧

The pressure was on for Bobby to pull out another showstopping performance and retain the winning title, however, it proved all too much as Dumyat quickly pulled ahead to take the win!

Thanks!

The list of thanks to give out could be endless… but we are going to give it our best shot! Firstly to the team at Saints Sport for being absolutely fantastic in the lead up to the event and on the day. The team were so helpful, welcoming, and attentive on the day it meant for a smooth running schedule.

To the Officials, Umpires and Referee’s who made the competitions happen thank you so much for your support. That goes for our Volunteers on hand across the day too, and of course, the Media Team who you will have seen out in force. Photos and video to follow on our Facebook Page, so, please watch this space!

The team from Edinburgh College who provided many of our athletes with a free massage across the day, it was truly fantastic to have you there. Our first aiders, COAST Ambulance and Medical, we hope there were not too many injuries but are so glad you were on hand none the less.

We have to thank our outstanding greatest showman, Chris Purdie from the University of Stirling, who kept the outdoor pitches informed, energised, and valued throughout the medal presentations.

Finally, to you the athletes! It was an absolute delight to have you all competing together and include us in rounding up your student competitive season. We look forward to seeing how you progress into the next academic year and welcome you to let us know!

Full results can be viewed HERE.

 

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