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University rivalries - it's not just the boat race. . .

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Shropshire Star student blogger James Ashford writes about the great university rivalries, ranging from the Oxford-Cambridge boat race to his own University of Sheffield's friendly banter with neighbours Sheffield Hallam:

Shropshire Star student blogger James Ashford writes about the great university rivalries, ranging from the Oxford-Cambridge boat race to his own University of Sheffield's friendly banter with neighbours Sheffield Hallam:

This week has seen Shrewsbury Town Football Club promoted, the biggest outbreak of Measles since Margaret Thatcher was in power, and the notorious Joseph Kony remain at large.

All things considered, it might seem like what's been going on in my life isn't that important this week. Who cares about the success of the University of Sheffield History Rugby team when 'The Shrews' are entering the third tier of English football? Who wants to know what I had for dinner on Tuesday when Kony, a man with more previous than the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is still evading capture?

If the answer to these questions is 'me', then this blog is for you.

This week I'll be writing about university rivalries. Though inter-flat and inter-course rivalries quietly exist, the biggest rivalry is undoubtedly between universities. As with sport, whoever becomes your biggest rival is usually dictated by geographical proximity. For example, the University of Sheffield's biggest rivals are Sheffield Hallam. The University of Manchester's are Manchester Metropolitan. You must love your university unconditionally, and reject your rivals' vehemently.

There are problems with this. Sometimes you can't help but get irritated by your own university. I receive about ten emails every day from postgraduates asking someone, anyone, to take part in their various tests. Like most heartless students, I've taken to deleting these with a detached click and no second thought.

I had to draw the line after receiving emails with the subject titles 'Are you a jazz pianist? If so, read on!!', 'Do you like a drink and lying down?' and 'Do you know a boy aged 9-12 years?' all in one day. I don't know what they had planned, but I hope for the kid's sake that jazz pianists can hold their drink.

Despite the odd hiccup, loyalty to one's university is usually fierce. The boat race and rugby varsity matches between Oxford and Cambridge are contested so brutally, and to such a high level, that they appear on national television and garner much attention from the national media. There is also academic competition between universities, which is seen across the country, and generally emphasised more by the higher achieving of rivals. This academic rivalry often comes through in varsity chants.

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Some of the crueller Sheffield uni chants include:

'Give me a D! (D!) Give me a D! (D!) Give me an E! (E!) What do you get? Into Hallam!' – Very unkind and only technically true for a small number of courses.

'Who shot ya? Separate the weak from the obsolete, hard to creep them Brooklyn streets.' – Taking it too far? Who knows. This one was actually from the late Notorious B.I.G, who whilst not technically an alumnus of the University of Sheffield, openly admitted that the Uni/Hallam rivalry was greater than that of the East/West coast rap divide.

Rivalry exists in all walks of life, and often leads to the most heated of debates. That said, rivalry plus the youthful struggle for stature at universities results in the greatest passive/aggressive struggle since mutual assured destruction.

And that got pretty tense.

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