Edinburgh Varsity 2011

The following article appeared in The Student newspaper on 22nd March 2011
by Ted Edmunds and Michael Nicholson

Pre-match photo. Heriot-Watt in yellow, Edinburgh in pink.

H 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total
Heriot-Watt University 1 3 0 2 0 2 1 2 11
Edinburgh University * 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 3

Edinburgh did nothing to dispel expectations in this year’s Varsity, falling 11-3 to a Heriot-Watt team boasting one former and one current Scottish Junior Champion.  The latter,  Colin Howden, was playing his first competitive game since a World Junior Championship campaign, blighted by team illness, ended without a medal.

Edinburgh’s comparatively inexperienced team, with one player in her maiden season, were always going to have a battle on their hands in their quest to avenge last year’s defeat in the inaugural varsity match.A sloppy first end from both teams saw Howden’s team steal one point.

In the second, a series of mistakes from the Edinburgh front end saw their opponents take advantage to lie three. Two takeout attempts from skipper David Jenkins went awry, clipping guards on their way down and gifting Heriot-Watt a big early lead.Edinburgh rallied in a cat-and-mouse third end in which their back end really came into its own.

Two terrific draws from third Katie McGaan left Edinburgh lying two and forced Howden into a difficult inwick around the guards; he removed one of Edinburgh’s stones but left them lying shot. Jenkins played a measured freeze, with Howden accurately following him down, but a controlled hit-and-stick gave the Edinburgh team their first points.Heriot-Watt regained their four stone advantage in the fourth end, good build-up play by Edinburgh being undone by a tricky draw through a port from Caitlin Barr.

Caitlin Barr delivers.

Edinburgh’s attempts at recovery were futile, and despite a split attempt by Howden not quite coming off, Heriot-Watt scored another two. This would be Howden’s final contribution to the game; Ally MacKinnon came in at lead, with the rest of the team each moving up one position and Barr taking the head.

Barr’s first call in the next end was straight from the textbook, a long guard placed perfectly on the centre line.  Kelly Jamieson replied by following the stone down beautifully, finishing right behind it, biting the four-foot. That stone proved to be crucial, as a scrappy end littered with no fewer than six guards ended with that sole stone counting. The number of guards thrown up undoubtedly hindered Edinburgh as much as their opponents, as Jenkins’ attempt at a raise for two just couldn’t find its way through the congestion.

Any hopes of a comeback were dashed in the next end with Heriot-Watt taking a further two to lead 8-3, though things could have been worse for Edinburgh – a proficient shot from David Jenkins limiting Barr to a draw for two, rather than four.  The game looked out of Edinburgh’s reach now, but they lay two in the next end with only the skips’stones to play.

Barr, faced with no clear path to the well-guarded Edinburgh stones in the back of the eight-foot, threw an exquisite draw round two tricky guards to nestle gently against the Edinburgh stones to lie shot. Jenkins could not respond, and Heriot-Watt counted one more. Edinburgh elected to play the last end, hoping to finish with a flourish, but couldn’t prevent a loss of another two shots.

Katie McGaan in the head.

Howden praised his squad following the match, pointing to their ability to play a strong, cautiously aggressive game as the blueprint for success. Edinburgh President Alison McAteer – out for this game due to a knee injury – likewise praised her team’s efforts and asserted that it had been a fascinating game to watch, in spite of the final result.Edinburgh suffered no shame in their defeat, simply falling victim to a superior team with world class talent.

The result was indicative of their season; results have not kept pace with the industry and skill shown by the team, albeit only in glimpses.  For Heriot-Watt, the trophy is a further addition to an already impressive haul over recent seasons, including last year’s Varsity and the 2009 Scottish Universities Championship.

Both teams will now be looking to this year’s Universities Championship in April with different expectations of what success there might entail.


Skip Third Second Lead Alternate
Heriot-Watt Colin Howden Caitlin Barr Andrew Wilson Jack Norton Ally MacKinnon[1]
Edinburgh David Jenkins Katie McGaan Graham Chernoff Kelly Jamieson

[1]  Ally MacKinnon replaced Colin Howden after four ends.  MacKinnon entered at lead, with all others moving up one position.