DEVASTATED King’s fans will have to wait yet another year for Varsity glory after UCL swiped the coveted title from underneath KCL in a shock turnaround on the penultimate day of the series.
King’s conceded their seventh event in a row to their rivals at the Taekwondo tonight, with the university missing out on its best chance to win the trophy for the first time in four years.
KCL was storming the race to 11 points 7-3 on Monday after two dramatic wins in the football and finally looked set to have their hands on the elusive prize.
However, since the heady heights of Monday night King’s has fallen back to Earth with an almighty crash – losing eight out of nine events. UCL now sit with an unsurpassable 12 points.
This means that the Men’s and Women’s Rugby matches tomorrow will hold no sway on the overall result of the London Varsity Series 2015.
Friday night is still set to be a massive night of a passion and drama as the the Varsity series comes to a climax with the traditional main event of Rugby at the Allianz arena. In front of the biggest crowd at this year’s Varsity both men’s and women’s King’s sides will look to avenge the defeats of last year and restore pride and honour to KCL through victory.
Somers Town Community Centre was the venue for Day 7’s Varsity event, taekwondo. An intense, highly physical and relentless sport, KCL took the fight to UCL and, in the best of nine rounds, went three-nil up in fights quickly. Standout performer, Omar Safi, was the pick of the King’s competitors, winning an explosive round 25-23.
Symbolic of KCL’s changing fortunes since Monday, their fourth fighter was forced to forfeit with a suspected fractured arm. It became a catalyst for a UCL fight back. Before we knew it, the score was 3-3 and KCL were on the ropes.
Last year’s President, Dirk Kruger, steadied the ship to make it 4-3 and put King’s within touching distance of a crucial point in the series, winning 16-11. But UCL dug in and won the eight fight 14-6. They went on to win the ninth and deciding fight and with that, the London Varsity Series.
At the end of Day 4 Roar reported that KCL were on the cusp of achieving their first Varsity title in four years after both the Men’s and Women’s football teams caused upsets at the Champion Hill stadium to give King’s a 7-3 lead overall.
But Monday’s jubilant scenes seem a world away tonight considering the bitter disappointment of a fourth successive defeat.
In the most unpredictable of series, form guides have gone out the window. Teams expected to win comfortably have lost, and vice versa. Varsity is a series of cup finals, with no second chances.
KCL have simply not shown up in the mid week’s events and it’s been reflected in the score line.
A collapse of epic proportions followed the jubilation of the football victories. Day 5 saw King’s lose four out of five of the sports played at the SportsDock and momentum shifted in UCL’s favour despite the Men’s Basketball team securing a narrow victory and maintaining an even narrower 8-7 lead for King’s.
In the Olympic pool matters turned from bad to worse for the Strand fans, with UCL winning all three sports in the water and overtaking King’s into an intimidating 10-7 lead.
Women’s Water Polo may well have been the defining moment, where UCL edged out their opponents in the tightest of matches 11-9 despite the scores being neck-and-neck at 7-7 going into the final quarter.
King’s went into Day 7 knowing that they had to win every event to win the overall, prize but ultimately this proved to be a task too far as Taekwondo suffered another agonisingly narrow defeat and handed the Varsity series to their bitterest of rivals.
The question of where this collapse came from will be milled over by King’s athletes, students and coaches for some time to come. Was it complacency? Was it overconfidence? Or was it just the case that UCL were too strong in the respective events? The truth may lie in a mixture of these factors.
But wherever the answer of defeat lies the tough truth for KCL fans to stomach is that Phineas and Bentham, not Reggie and Keats, will be marching the Varsity trophy coveted in the colours of blue and purple, not red and white, back to Gower street, not the Strand, come Friday night for the 9th time since it was established in 2004 no matter what the result is in the rugby matches.
Roar will bring the epic finale of the London Varsity series at the Allianz park tomorrow evening by providing live updates of both the men’s and women’s rugby matches.