Lancaster Blog blog

Sporting War of the Roses

An annual sports competition between Lancaster University and the University of York, The Roses tournament is held every summer, alternating venues between the two universities. The event is inspired by the 15th Century civil war between the House of Lancaster and the House of York.

Over 1200 competitors take part in over 100 events ranging from American football, judo and power-lifting to more traditional sports such as archery, rowing and rugby union. The competition began in May 1965 after York’s Vice-Chancellor, Lord James of Rusholme, proposed a boat race between York and Lancaster Universities. Students added to this, suggesting a 3-day event composing a variety of sports. The event has grown continually since then, with new events being added yearly.

Despite the House of Lancaster winning the War of the Roses, the Roses Tournament has traditionally been less clear cut. Between the event’s birth and 2011, Lancaster had 22 victories, while York gained 24, with 1 draw.

A stadium was used for the first time in 2011, when Huntingdon Stadium, home to the York City Knights saw York Rugby 1sts XV beat Lancaster 30-8. The competition ends with each University’s Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and Athletic Union Presidents taking part in a croquet game, signalling the final day of the event.

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