‘Varsity’ 1920s style

The Welsh Varsity may not be happening on 29 April this year but here’s a look back to the Intercollegiate Week of the 1920s.

In the 1920s, in February or March, an inter-collegiate event took place between the university colleges in Wales. This was quite similar to modern day Varsity, but alongside Swansea and Cardiff it also included Bangor and Aberystwyth. This sporting event lasted for a week, even taking place on Saturdays when lectures were usually scheduled, and also included social functions.

Unlike the modern equivalent, which includes 35 different sports, in the 1920s there was only hockey (men and women’s), ‘rugger’ (rugby) and soccer (football). So, how did Swansea fare against its rivals? The rugby team got off to a good start (beating Cardiff in 1923 and 1924) but the women’s hockey wasn’t as successful, being defeated by Bangor in the same years. However, they did defeat Aberystwyth in 1923, with a score of 2-1, and also beat Cardiff in 1924 and 1925 with scores of 4-2 and 3-2.

There were functions every evening throughout the week – dances, theatre, concerts, dinners, debates and socials. In February 1925, a men’s smoker evening on Wednesday was followed by a student pie night on Thursday. At the dances you would have a small programme with a list of dances, with space to write the name of each dance partner (very helpfully a dainty pencil was attached to the dance card).

The week of friendly sporting rivalry and social functions was usually rounded off with a St David’s Day celebration.

Yn y 1920au, bob mis Chwefror neu fis Mawrth, cynhaliwyd digwyddiad rhyng-golegol rhwng colegau prifysgolion Cymru. Roedd hwn yn debyg i’r Gemau’r Prifysgolion modern, ond roedd Bangor ac Aberystwyth yn cystadlu ochr yn ochr ag Abertawe a Chaerdydd. Roedd yn ddigwyddiad wythnos o hyd, a gynhaliwyd hyd yn oed ar ddydd Sadwrn, pan drefnwyd darlithoedd fel arfer, ac roedd yn cynnwys digwyddiadau cymdeithasol.

Yn wahanol i’r gystadleuaeth fodern, sy’n cynnwys 35 o gampau gwahanol, hoci (dynion a menywod ), rugger (rygbi) a phêl-droed oedd yn unig. Felly, sut wnaeth Abertawe yn erbyn ei gwrthwynebwyr? Dechreuodd y tîm rygbi’n dda (gan faeddu Caerdydd ym 1923 a 1924), ond nid oedd tîm hoci’r menywod mor llwyddiannus, gan golli i Bangor yn yr un blynyddoedd. Gwnaethant faeddu Aberystwyth, fodd bynnag, ym 1923 (2-1), a Chaerdydd hefyd ym 1924 a 1925 (4-2 a 3-2).

Bu digwyddiadau bob nos drwy gydol yr wythnos, gan gynnwys dawnsiau, theatr, cyngherddau, siarad cyhoeddus a nosweithiau cymdeithasol. Fis Chwefror 1925, roedd noson ysmygwyr y dynion ar y nos Fercher, yna noson basteiod i fyfyrwyr ar y nos Iau. Yn y dawnsiau byddai rhaglen fach â rhestr o ddawnsiau, gyda lle i ysgrifennu enw pob partner dawns (i gynorthwyo, rhoddwyd pensil bach gyda’r cerdyn dawnsiau).

Diweddglo’r wythnos o gystadlu cyfeillgar a digwyddiadau cymdeithasol fel arfer fyddai dathliad Dydd Gŵyl Dewi.

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One thought on “‘Varsity’ 1920s style

  1. This chant was still being used by sports teams at the end of the 1960s. I remember doing this as type of haka before a hockey match commenced in my years between 1968 and 1972.

    Liked by 1 person

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