Celebrations are continuing for the University of St Andrews Woman’s Water Polo team who made the record books to take home a coveted Championship Medal at the British Universities and Colleges (BUCS) Big Wednesday National Finals last week (27 March).
The BUCS Big Wednesday is the pinnacle of the student sport calendar in the UK. It plays host to the best athletes and teams with 23 universities battling it out in 52 finals across 14 sports. In winning this year, Saints Water Polo become the first St Andrews women’s team to take home a BUCS Championship Medal.
The win rounds up a remarkable 2018/19 season for Saints Water Polo: a resounding Varsity match win against Edinburgh in September was followed by winning all ten matches in the BUCS Premier League North to claim the League title and to enter the play-offs for the championships as top seeds. Play-off wins over the universities of Edinburgh and Newcastle set up a championship match against reigning champions Durham University. In a thrilling final, the Saints held their nerve to produce a convincing performance and claim the title with a 12-7 victory.
As much as the results make it sound like it’s been a comfortable season, the team have had to deal with some highs and lows on their way to the top. The Championship win over Durham has been the culmination of ten years of hard work and steady progress for women’s water polo. It also marks the first time that the University of St Andrews has won a National women’s team Championship.
Commenting on the momentous victory, Director of Water Polo Ian MacCallum was pleased to see all the players take to the water: “The final went pretty much to plan, and I always felt that we had enough quality in the team to defeat Durham. I was especially pleased that all of the bench had the opportunity to play. It was a special day for all concerned, topped off by our attacker Kimberly Watson being voted MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the finals.”
Kimberley Watson added: “Having arrived at St Andrews as a postgraduate student it’s been an incredible experience to win a National Championship in the UK after playing for four years in the US. My time here at St Andrews has been filled with some incredible experiences: the training camps, the opportunities to compete at the highest level and, most importantly, being a part of this special team.”
Ian Gaunt, Deputy Director of Sport at the University of St Andrews, spoke of the significance of the victory: “Saints Water Polo is part of the Performance Sport Programme within Saints Sport. St Andrews is a place where students can gain a world-renowned degree and compete at a high sporting level, which is an exciting combination and prospect for any student considering St Andrews as a place to further their education.
“Everyone at Saints Sport wishes to congratulate Ian and the coaching team, as well as the wider support staff. It’s also appropriate to acknowledge colleagues across the University who have supported us over many years and played a significant role in this success. It’s very much a team effort and one we hope we will see repeated across other sports in the years to come.”
For now, the players and staff can rest, but Ian and his team are already looking ahead at the European Student Water Polo Championships in Slovenia this summer. Planning has already started for the defence of their title next season and they are looking forward to the new players embarking on their journey at the University of St Andrews in the autumn.
Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.Sport