FREE Seminar: Changing the Game – The Leadership Challenge

Maurice Keyworth Building

Sport & Physical Activity have partnered with highly respected leaders in business and sport to bring you a free seminar on Friday 15 November. The seminar brings together individuals, who in their own unique way have not only improved the performance of a number of organisations and teams, they fundamentally changed the game or industry in which they operated.

Each will give a brief perspective on their experiences ‘changing the game’ of organisations in sport and business, followed by a panel discussion. The three speakers include:

  • Alistair Gray – leading European strategic management consultant and voluntary leader at a number of UK and European sports.
  • Baroness Sue Campbell CBE  – Head of Women’s Football at The FA and former Chair of UK Sport and the Youth Sports Trust

Alistair Gray published The Game Changer with Routledge earlier this year. It outlines how a number of organisations in business and sport have done more than raise their performance – they have also changed the rules of the game in their industry.

Book your free space now for the chance to learn from some of the industry’s best!



Women’s Rugby Union Team Make History at Varsity

Women's rugby varsity

The Gryphons may not have retained their Varsity title, however Varsity 2019 shall go down in the history books; our women’s Rugby Union 1st team played for the first time ever at Emerald Headingley Stadium.

Leeds Varsity is the annual inter-university sports Varsity between arch rivals University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University. It began in January with the cross country and culminated, as it does every year, with the Rugby Union finale held up at Emerald Headingley Stadium where over 10,000 students cheered on their team from the stands.

Unfortunately for the Gryphons, Leeds Beckett have taken the title for this year. Lydia Evans, LUU Activities Officer said:

“Despite the result, it’s been a great day of sport for the Gryphons and every one of our athletes should feel proud to have represented their clubs.”

However, it was a historic moment for the women’s Rugby Union 1st team on Wednesday night, as they took to the pitch for the first time to compete against Leeds Beckett in front of the 10,000 strong crowd at Headingley Stadium. Ashley Ross, the women’s captain said:

“The experience of playing our varsity match with such a huge crowd was incredible, and not one that any of us will forget! It’s a special honour, especially for a university team, and it’s especially significant for us as a women’s team as we often struggle to get the same status as men’s sport. It feels like a massive step forward for gender equality and women in sport – not just playing for our team but every other women’s team who hasn’t had the same opportunity as men. Even though Beckett are our rivals, it’s a great achievement for them too. Winning was an amazing bonus on top of that! We’ll all definitely be celebrating tonight! The opportunity to play in the stadium is one we have been working towards for such a long time now so to see it all come together has been incredible. Thanks very much to everyone who came to support us!”

Our Gryphons put on a stellar performance over 60 fixtures including athletics, handball, tennis and lacrosse. Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport commented;

“I’m really proud of all our Gryphons who played their best whilst representing University of Leeds. It was especially exciting this year to see our women’s rugby union club playing at Headingley with such great support from the student crowd.”

A full list of the results can be found here, and keep an eye out on our social media channels for photos and videos from the day. See you all again in 2020.

University of Leeds Rugby Captains Excited for Varsity

Varsity rugby
The University of Leeds women’s and men’s rugby union teams will headline Leeds Varsity for the first time, with both teams set to compete at Emerald Headingley Stadium.

Both captains sat down for an exclusive Q&A with the Leeds Varsity media team to discuss their highly anticipated fixtures.

Rugby teams and Myles Pickard pose at Headingley Stadium


Emma Winstanley, University of Leeds Rugby Union Women’s Captain

Emma Winstanley, UOL Women's rugby captain

Leeds University come into Varsity for the first time ever as defending champions, how does it feel just hearing that?

Pretty good! We’re really excited about coming into the event as champions and we’re ready to beat Beckett again.

Is your team looking forward to getting out there and playing?

Yeah, it has been a really good vibe in camp throughout pre-season so far.

Now for the first time ever your team is going to be co-headlining the Leeds Varsity Rugby Finale, how excited are you to be involved in a historic occasion?

I think all of the girls are even more committed to the cause this year, the team has been a lot more committed in training because it is such a massive opportunity for us to show our skills.

Why should people come watch the game?

I think it could be a closer game than what the men’s game potentially could be, so hopefully there’ll be a tough contest when we get out there.

A lot of the girls all know each other as well, so there’ll be a good vibe on the pitch and probably a few of us knocking lumps out of each other.


Luke White, University of Leeds Men’s Rugby Union

Luke White, UOL men's rugby

What does it mean to you guys going into the event first time as champions?

I think it’s pretty good. To be honest, it doesn’t bear much on the actual rugby game, we still want to win that and be winners overall but it counts for nothing when we get out on that pitch.

What are you expecting from the game this year?
Looking at our team this year, I think we’re prepared quite well.

We’ve got a lot of new players come into the team, a lot of freshers came through at the back end of last season and they’re making up a quarter of our team this year.

We’re coming into the game as massive underdogs again this year which we love and suits us quite well, so we’re really looking forward to it.

What’s it like having Varsity as your first competitive fixture of the season?

It’s certainly a baptism of fire for the team but if we can weather the storm in the Varsity game I’m sure we will go into our league season more than prepared I feel.

Why should people come down and watch your team?

It is probably one of the best atmospheres, not just for a student game but for any sports contest.

If you’ve either been here before or new to the experience it’s probably one of the best social nights of the year.

There’s plenty of fun you can have with your mates, with some rugby on in the background and it gives you something to cheer about and get passionate about.


Follow Leeds Varsity online:

@LeedsVarsity19 – Twitter

@LeedsVarsity – Instagram

Leeds Varsity Uni Fan Page – Facebook

Gryphons Abroad 2019; Another Successful Year!

Gryphons Abroad Team in South Africa

Our University of Leeds students and staff have returned from our annual Gryphons Abroad trip! Eight students and four staff members went on the trip which was a huge success, with all volunteers thrilled by seeing the increase in the children’s skills and confidence.

Each year, University of Leeds staff and students travel to South Africa to deliver a volunteering programme in partnership with the Bambisanani Partnership Charity. We work with hundreds of South African students with the aim of raising aspirations through leadership and activity. It is a student led project and once in a lifetime adventure, where the students gain a range of skills and experiences which set them apart for life after University.

South African Student fixing bikeThe first week of the trip was spent at Mnyakanya High School in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal teaching the South African students to ride and also maintain bikes. This skill is often life changing for the students, as many live as far as two hours away from the school which creates a barrier to getting their education. This year, as a result of the project;

  • 35 children learnt to ride bikes with ten making it out onto the open road.
  • Six children were trained as bike mechanics.
  • 20 refurbished bikes were shipped to the school for continued use by the students.

In the second week of the trip, our staff and students worked with four local primary schools based in the Eshowe district, delivering a sports and leadership programme. This involved the students delivering classroom lessons including anatomy and history of art, teaching and playing a variety of sports and organising leadership activities. As a result of the programme;

  • 12 classroom sessions, 12 leadership sessions and 12 sports sessions were delivered at Gratton School.
  • 175 new young leaders were certified from Gratton, Little Flower, John Wesley and Holy Childhood schools.
  • 300+ football shirts were distributed to six schools and Zulufadder day care centre. 214 shirts were collected by Murphy Grisedale-Stairs

Alan Stuart, Principal of the John Wesley School, made the following comments about the impact of the programme;

“How can we thank you enough for the incredible impact you have made on the lives of so many youngsters of Eshowe? Your efforts could be described as tireless, positive, enthusiastic, meticulously planned, generous and highly professional. Each year you have come to Eshowe, you have fine-tuned your sports leadership programme to extract the most benefit possible from your time with our Grade 7s. Your students engage actively with our Grade 7s and the departure is always an emotional one. The gifts of sporting equipment that you leave with us each year are highly appreciated and the Grade 7s particularly enjoy receiving their soccer shirts.

Thanks also, particularly from John Wesley, for the students who spent time in our classrooms and presented innovative and exciting lessons to our children. It was such a pleasure to have you as a youthful and energetic presence in our school for a week.

We look forward to similar interactions between us in the coming years.”

South African Students with FootballsThe programme not only helps the South African students to develop new skills, but it also increases our students’ skills. This year, over the course of the project, our students demonstrated an average improvement of 31% in 18 key employability skills. This will help them to stand out from the crowd once they leave University, making them attractive to top employers. Not only this, it is an experience they will never forget.

Emily Faux, one of our Gryphons Abroad students said;

“Gryphons Abroad was more than I ever thought two weeks could be. I learnt so much about the challenges that so many people face and I helped to make a genuine, sustainable difference with the University’s partner schools. I made incredible friends and memories to last a lifetime.”

Jessica McCarrick, another one of our students commented;

“There is no better way to gain skills and push yourself in a teaching environment, whilst having fun and making friends. Truly an incomparable experience that I would recommend to all.”

Check out the blogs the students wrote during the two weeks to get a real insight into what the trip involved and take a look at our Instagram to see it all in action! All photos from this year’s trip are available to view here.

Applications to be part of the Gryphons Abroad 2020 team are now open until Friday 27 September. Apply now for the chance to be part of this fantastic project, allowing you to experience another country’s culture whilst developing yourself and making a clear impact on students’ lives in South Africa.

Keeping the Cost of Sport Down for Students

This year’s Gryphons Club Fund will significantly reduce the cost of participating in sport at the University of Leeds which involves 7,500 students. The fund is worth £290k and helps to cover costs for all 70 of the University’s sports clubs.

For 2019/20 onwards there will be a more consistent allocation of funds across all clubs. This will ensure that as many students as possible are able to participate in sport whilst at the University. All clubs will get a minimum 10% contribution towards costs, ensuring everyone receives fair support, whether you are involved with kickboxing, rowing or horse riding. We want to help all clubs and their members develop and grow, whether that means having more teams or entering into more competitions.

The fund was created in 2016, following student feedback about the high costs associated with participating in sport. Its sole aim is to help students with the cost of training and playing sport during their time at Leeds.

In addition to the Gryphons Club Fund, the University continues to provide free access to sports facilities for training slots and certain competitions to all its student club members. This means that the previously compulsory Sports Pass in order to use University Facilities is not needed, saving each student £77.50 per year.

Ella Murphy from the University of Leeds Boat Club said;

“We are so grateful to Leeds Sport for our funding this year, it goes a long way in helping us be the best university at providing high-performance and participation programmes simultaneously. Every one of our members benefit from the funding, ensuring as many students can enjoy rowing alongside their studies.”

The boat club will be using their allocation from the fund to;

• Lower membership costs to ensure the club is accessible to more students.
• Increase national and local representation for both the club and the university by lowering competition entry fees.
• Lower costs of travel to and from competition for all members.

We hope the fund will encourage more and more students to get involved with sport whilst at University by helping to significantly reduce the cost of those participating.

Playing an Active Role in the Netball World Cup

Natalie Haythornthwaite

This year, at the Vitality Netball World Cup, the University of Leeds has been represented by alumnae Natalie Haythornthwaite and Ciara Crosbie and members of staff Suzanne Glavin and Kathy Fairclough who represented as volunteers and did Leeds proud.

University of Leeds Alumna Natalie Haythornthwaite represented England in the recent 2019 Vitality Netball World Cup held in Liverpool; reaching the semi-final, narrowly losing to New Zealand, and beating South Africa to win team bronze. Ciara Crosbie made her World Cup debut, representing Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland finished 8th at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and were looking to improve on that ranking in Liverpool. Unfortunately they could only manage 10th place after a tough set of fixtures which included playing the 2015 winners, Australia, in their opening match.

Ciara currently plays for Belfast Ladies and had made 9 international appearances prior to this World Cup campaign.
Natalie currently plays for Australian Super Netball League side New South Wales Swifts, and has previously played for Manchester Thunder and Wasps Netball in the English Superleague; winning consecutive titles with Wasps in 2017 and 2018 since leaving University. Additionally, she was part of the team that won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Speaking to our Head of Sport, Suzanne Glavin, after the semi-final match she had some kind words to say about her time at The University of Leeds and to all of our current students playing netball;

“I enjoyed my time at The University of Leeds, playing university netball – BUCS was always fun! Good luck and enjoy BUCS league!”

Suzanne Glavin at Netball World Cup

Suzanne was a Pivoteer at the World Cup working in Press Operations. Her role involved supporting the many photographers, ensuring everyone was where they should be and were positioned to get the best possible shots. In addition to this, on finals day Suzanne was allocated as a Mixed Zone team member, an exciting but high pressure role! She was responsible for escorting both coaches and selected team members from each side from court to talk to the world’s sports broadcasters and written press in a timely fashion. Pivoteers are only told which players have been requested for interviews within a few minutes of the final whistle and can have a very short window of time to get everything done – on finals day all of this had to be completed within eight minutes! Suzanne was lucky to escort Rachel Dunn, a popular England Roses player to the Mixed Zone, but also quite an undertaking as many fans were demanding her attention!

Suzanne said;

“I am very privileged to represent the University of Leeds in this voluntary press operations role in actively supporting the promotion of world class female sport to global audiences. I genuinely hope that it inspires and motivates people to be active and play more sport.”


Uni staff member volunteering at the Netball World Cup

Photo Credit: Danny Dalton for Netball Scoop

Another University of Leeds staff Pivoteer, Kathy Fairclough from the Alumni office was there as a Technical Official scoring and timing the games. She worked on 60 matches over ten days, officiating during the semi-final which she cited as her personal highlight of the whole experience and was lucky enough to witness England win the bronze medal! Read more about Kathy’s experience on the Yorkshire Netball Facebook Page where she wrote five blog entries during the course of the tournament.

It was amazing to not only have one of our Leeds Sporting Alumni playing for England, but also to have two of our fantastic staff members volunteer at the event which reached one of the largest global audiences for a Netball World Cup, helping to raise the profile of Netball across the world.



Henley Royal Regatta – Brigham’s Dream Debut

The 2019 Henley Royal Regatta took place from 3 to 7 July and is the best-known regatta in the world.

Sports Scholar Matt Brigham qualified for the Diamond Challenge sculls on Friday 28 June. He would face double Olympic champion and six-time Henley winner, Mahe Drysdale on Thursday 4 July. Matt caused the biggest upset of the regatta and knocked Drysdale out, beating him by three and a half lengths! The entire rowing community was talking about Matt; he became an overnight sensation!
The next day, Matt faced world U23 medalist Luuk Adema from the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. Unfortunately Matt lost the race by two lengths and Adema progressed to the semifinals. 

Sports Scholar Matt Brigham rowing at the Henley Royal Regatta against double olympic champion Mahe Drysdale

Matt has only been rowing for four years since he started at the University of Leeds to study Medicine. He joined the GB Start programme two years ago, having swam his whole life. GB Start is a specialist talent identification programme that trains and develop athletes for the GB Rowing Team. Matt was rowing as an intermediate in his second year, so his progress has been phenomenal.
Matt trains with the University of Leeds Boat Club at the Leeds Boat House with GB Start coach, Matt Paul, and Head of Rowing, Dan Grant.

University of Leeds Boat Club Legends Crew at Henley Royal Regatta 2019

In addition to Matt’s success, the University of Leeds Boat Club had a boat of legends in the Centenary Row Past crew to celebrate their 100th year. 

The crew was made up of: Emma Lindsay (Cox), Ella Murphy, Jordan Bryne, Steve O’Connor, Ben Cox, Helen Brown, Grace Clough, Chris Williams and Tom Clements.

Finally, a huge congratulations to Matt for his fantastic Henley Royal debut and the Boat Club on a great year.

University of Leeds Boat Club Legends Crew in the row past at henley royal regatta 2019

Photographs courtesy of University of Leeds Boat Club.

University of Leeds Hosts World Cup Cricket Teams

Sri Lankan Cricket Team Playing at Weetwood

The University of Leeds Sports Park Weetwood was used as a training ground for many of the international teams during this year’s Cricket World Cup. It played host to world-class teams including England, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, where teams trained in between matches.

It was a huge privilege for Sports Park Weetwood to be chosen as a training ground. Our facilities looked fantastic, a credit to Dave Thackeray and his grounds team. Head of Sport, Suzanne Glavin said;

“Providing our sports facilities for visiting world-class international teams is a real opportunity for us to promote globally, in addition to creating valuable new working relationships around education, sport and global exchanges for the betterment of both our staff and students. It was lovely to receive feedback from Chandima Mapatuna, Head of Sri Lanka International Cricket that Sports Park Weetwood was a quality training venue, the hospitality was fantastic and the University catering was the best they had in the entire six weeks of touring.”

The Sri Lankan team have fed back that they are interested in bringing the Sri Lanka International programme to the University in future years.Sri Lankan Cricket teams playing cricket at Uni of Leeds Sports Park Weetwood

This year’s Cricket World Cup has seen some incredible sporting moments, with the Emerald Headingley Cricket Ground hosting a handful of fixtures including; England v Sri Lanka on the 21 June, Pakistan v Afghanistan on 29 June and Afghanistan v West Indies on 4 July.

This is not the first time that the University of Leeds has been chosen by high profile international sports teams, proving the role that sport plays in reaching global markets and supporting the University’s international focus.

  • The Chinese Olympic team used the University as a base before London 2012.
  • Sports Park Weetwood was chosen as a training ground by the Australian Schoolboys Rugby League team.
  • Only last month the University played host to the MCCU V Yorkshire first class cricket match.
  • The Edge was used by the Canadian wheelchair rugby team as a training camp prior to the 2012 Paralympics.
  • The Edge was used by the North Queensland Cowboys rugby team in preparation for the Dacia World Club Challenge in 2016.
  • And Sports Park Weetwood has also hosted the England, rugby union Six Nations Training squad in previous years.

We went up to capture the Sri Lankan team in action – check out our Facebook album to see the rest of the photos.

Gryphons Abroad Football Shirt Collection

Gryphons Abroad Plane

Gryphons Abroad is our international volunteering programme. Each year, students and staff from the University of Leeds travel to South Africa to deliver a life changing project. We aim to raise aspirations through activity and leadership, working with hundreds of children. Additionally, this project is delivered at part of the Bambisanani Partnership Charity.

This year, we have been collecting football shirts to give to the five schools we’re working with. We had a fantastic donation from the University of Leeds Women’s Football Club, who donated their whole playing kit. Also, a special mention goes to eight year old Murphy, who has collected over 170 football shirts for Gryphons Abroad.
He was asked if he would like to donate one of his playing kits to the Gryphons Abroad scheme, and when he learnt that some children couldn’t afford to buy their own kit, he set up the campaign with the help of his parents.
They were hoping to collect around 25 kits initially, but the campaign grew and they now have more than 170 different kits, ranging from Barcelona to Carlisle United. 

To keep up with the campaign, check out Murphy’s Mission on Facebook. 

The students and staff will be travelling out to South Africa on Saturday 13th July 2019. To keep up with what’s happening, follow us on Instagram (@Leeds_Sport) for daily updates and stories from our volunteers.

Finally, if you’re interested in this once in a lifetime opportunity, apply to be a part of our 2020 team – applications close Friday 27th September 2019.

Top Class Cricket at The University of Leeds

The Leeds-Bradford MCCU Men’s Squad have had a very successful season and have been crowned 2018/19 MCCU Champions. Established in 2001, MCCUs are cricket academies which allow young aspiring cricketers to receive an unrivalled level of training and match-play whilst still furthering their education.

At the start of the season, many didn’t think they would do it. But, after a string of losses against county opposition, the MCCU squad had an incredible turnaround. Since those bad results in March/April, they’ve been on a great run of form.

They were level on points with Loughborough who they had to play in the title deciding match. Sadly the bad weather meant a wet ending to the MCCU Championship with no play possible between Leeds and Loughborough in the title decider. This meant that Leeds-Bradford MCCU finished top of the table and are the 2019 MCCU Championship Winners. 

Director of Cricket, Andrew Lawson with the MCCU Championship Shield

Picture credit: @cricketyorks (twitter)

The MCCU squad also finished as runners up in the BUCS National League. They were tied on points with Loughborough but came 2nd due to a worse overall run rate. They also narrowly lost in the BUCS Championship final on Wednesday to Oxford MCCU.
The women’s MCCU team finished 3rd in the BUCS Premier North after beating Edinburgh twice in the season. It’s been a fantastic season for the MCCU squads, with 11 University of Leeds students playing for the men’s team and 8 playing for the women. 

Leeds-Bradford MCCU squad photograph 2018/19

Picture credit:

For the University cricket teams, we’ve also had great successes this season: 

  • The men’s 1st team won their league and will be promoted to the North A
  • The women’s 1st team finished 4th in the Northern 1B
  • The men’s 2nd team avoided relegation and will stay in Northern 1A
  • The men’s 3rd team finished 2nd in the Northern 2B
University of Leeds Women's Cricket 1st team squad photo

Picture credit: @UOLWCC (twitter)

For more information about our cricket clubs, visit our webpage here.