Varsity – when is the final whistle?
I’m writing this blog to update everyone on the work that has been happening following the result of Varsity, which Portsmouth were recorded as winning, despite disputes by two of our clubs. I believe that despite many elements of the event’s organisation exceeding what was done in the past, Varsity is missing a process to deal with disputes, and we have had no success in working with Portsmouth to create one.
Following Southampton’s Athletics and Surf clubs contacting me shortly after the result of Varsity was announced to question their respective results, I set about investigating them to see if there was evidence to support these claims. I was determined to get to the bottom of the facts before deciding what course of action I would take, or before making any public statement about what was happening.
By the 20th March I had seen and gathered enough evidence to convince me that these two results should have been recorded as Southampton wins. As Southampton’s elected representative I made contact with Cat Redding (VP Sports at the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union), stating that we would like to challenge the result including all of the evidence that I had collected. Because of the absence of an agreed process I felt it was incredibly important to get Portsmouth’s point of view before speaking publicly about what was happening. For this reason I didn’t make a public statement or speak to Southampton’s student media until my efforts to try and agree the process for resolving a dispute with Cat had borne no success.
Regardless of the result which is recorded on this occasion I believe that the crux of the disagreement comes down to something that has never been defined or agreed; At what point should the result of varsity become final? It sounds like a straightforward question, but what if an announced result is later found to depend upon a score which includes an administrative error? What if that error is acknowledged by both teams, or even recorded on video? Should it be amended? If it should, then what is the timescale for this this to happen?
Regardless of their university, we all know that any individual team who disputes a result is likely to be branded a sore loser. This is why we have been working to have an adult discussion with Portsmouth clarify the grey area created when teams agree on an inaccuracy for the benefit of everyone in the future. Should Portsmouth be in a situation where their scores are recoded wrong, and both teams agree the error and there is even video evidence, we would hate for them to be in the place where we are right now.
It is a great shame that we cannot reach agreement, and this has become the story of this year’s Varsity though, as what I take from the day was it being an absolutely amazing festival of sport that saw almost 700 of us travel to Portsmouth united as #teamsoton for the first time, and was the closest and most exciting the event has ever been. I firmly believe that this year’s Varsity was organised and run far better than in previous years and that Portsmouth have set the bar very high for when Varsity returns to Southampton next year.
We will build on the successes that Portsmouth have achieved this year, and learn from these lessons to, ensure we put measures in place to ensure that from next year forward Varsity is even better for everyone concerned.