23rd November 2018
Round one of the University Championships takes place this weekend with matches split between the North, Midlands and South regions. Matches take place on both Saturday and Sunday.
Last year’s Cup winners, Cranfield (men) and Loughborough (women) will both be in action and starting the campaign to defend their titles.
In the North, teams will take to the courts at Stanney Oaks Leisure Centre, Ellesmere Port. In the men’s competition, Group 2 should be competitive as it contains last year’s Cup runners up, Durham, as well as Plate winners Leeds Beckett. Beckett’s 2018 victory was their second consecutive title in the men’s University Plate.
In Group 1, Bangor look to be the pick of the teams having been Plate runners-up last season.
The women’s competition is spread across six teams and the potential Liverpool derby between Liverpool John Moores and Liverpool University could be a tasty fixture.
Birmingham Play Football Arena is the venue for the Midland competition. Loughborough University looks to be the heavyweight club in the Midlands. Loughborough women won the Cup and Plate last year, were promoted to the Premier Handball League, and were also runners-up in the National Shield. Loughborough have entered two men’s teams and two women’s teams.
Nottingham were women’s Cup runners-up in the 2018 competition and also have two men’s and two women’s teams.
Birmingham also have a significant presence, having entered three men’s and two women’s teams. Warwick, Worcester and Nottingham Trent complete the roster for the Midlands.
In the South, teams will play at Medway Sports Park in Kent. Last year’s men’s Cup winners Cranfield are in Group 2 alongside Bath, Brunel, Chichester and King’s College London.
Oxford University are in Group 3, and could be a team to watch, having made it through to the quarter-finals of last year's men’s National Cup.
In the women’s competition, last year’s Plate runners-up, Imperial, are in Group 1 alongside Bath, Cambridge, Chichester and Kent. Bath performed strongly last season in the women’s National Cup, losing in the semi-finals to eventual winners London GD.
Qualification round 2 will take place on the 16/17 February, with the deciders to be played at Finals weekend on the 2/3 March. As with last year, this will be held at Medway Park, Gillingham, Kent.