After a hard-fought University Rugby League season, local rivals Manchester and Salford finished level at the top of Northern 2A, writes Ben Steele.
The clubs have shared this season’s top honours so far, Salford earning promotion but Manchester winning the BUCS cup just last week, defeating – ironically – Salford in the final.
There could not, consequently, be more at stake tomorrow (Friday 16 March, 7.30pm), for what will be the biggest match between the sides in recent memory.
Manchester Head coach Matt Valentine understands the task ahead of his team, but has confidence in his players. He said: “The lads deserved to win the Cup Final last week, but we are expecting Salford to come back this week even stronger, looking for revenge.
“We will match fire with fire on Friday; it’s going to be a great game, it’s a local derby and bragging rights are up for grabs.”
Having played each other twice already this year, with Salford and Manchester claiming one win apiece, Varsity is the decider.
Manchester Captain Adam Heal reflected: “We want to prove we are the best team in our league, the only way to do that is to beat Salford again this Friday.”
Winger Luke Greenwood summed up Salford’s feelings. He said: “Hopefully we can get revenge as, after the Cup Final, all the boys are now a lot more up for that match.
“It’s going to be big, so I’d advise everyone to get down to see it if they can!”
Manchester regional arena, part of the Etihad campus and home of Manchester Rangers RLFC, is the new venue. One of the biggest crowds ever is expected for this year’s Varsity, and tickets at £5 are still available, either by visiting https://billetto.co.uk/e/varsity-university-of-manchester-vs-university-of-salford-tickets-251537, or by paying at the gate.