By James Lloyd
Cardiff will host the 2017 Welsh Varsity after plans for the showpiece student event were finally announced.
After a two-year absence, the Welsh capital will welcome Swansea University on April 5 for a day of student sporting action.
Rowing will kick things into life with the Boat Race on April 1 with the blue riband event, the men’s rugby, capping off the sporting festival late on the 5th.
And Cardiff AU President Elin Harding has confirmed that the women’s rugby will also play at the Principality Stadium, marking a serious landmark in university women’s sport.
A delighted Harding said: “We have the Principality Stadium for both the men’s and women’s rugby. It’s really exciting because not even the Wales women play at the Principality Stadium so it is a step in the right direction for women’s sport, it is all coming together nicely for our female athletes.
“We have the Arms Park and the SWALEC Stadium too which are big, national stadiums which is exciting, so hopefully it will be the best and biggest Varsity yet.
“It is really exciting to have Varsity in Cardiff this year. We have not had it for two years, so it is good to have it back and hopefully it will be a good showcase of sporting talent.
“Believe it or not, we have been planning it since my first day in July, it has been going on for a number of months now, I am really excited.”
Harding also believes Cardiff will have no problems in retaining the Varsity shield after a 15-year stranglehold on the prize.
“Of course Cardiff can retain the Shield,” she said. “There’s a lot of pressure this year as we have never lost it but I have faith that we can do it. Our clubs have got plans to step up their training in the run up to Varsity, so if we are all there supporting we will definitely retain the shield.”
Alun Wyn-Davies’ men’s rugby side will be seeking revenge after losing last year’s game 16-10 at the Liberty Stadium. Louie Tonkin was in charge that day, and the team will have extra incentive after losing to Swansea in a BUCS game in November.
Harding, Vice President of Sports, who also plays Netball, says she wants to see an open roof at the prestigious Principality Stadium.
She said: “Fingers crossed it is a nice day, I don’t want to jinx it but it would be nice to have the roof open.
“The information of schedules will be announced soon. It has been hard work trying to nail down the stadiums but hopefully that will make the platform bigger for our students as Varsity is an amazing experience for both the players and spectators.”