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Sporting showdown

20 April 2009

Cardiff University Rowing Club in action

Oarsmen and women from Cardiff and Swansea Universities will battle it out in the fourth annual Welsh Boat Race, heralding the start of the 2009 Varsity sporting fixtures.

The crews will go head to head on the River Taff in front of hundreds of spectators, including First Minister Rhodri Morgan (Wednesday 22nd April). They will race each other over two kilometres from the University stone, opposite Brains Brewery, to the finishing post at Channel View Centre.

The day will begin with races for novice rowers, followed by the Senior Women First VIII's race. The final race of the day will see the Senior Men First VIII's crew take to the water.

Rowing Club President Penny Challans said: "The training the crews have put in for this race has been gruelling. Both the men and women have pushed themselves to their physical limits, enduring 6am training starts daily, and racking up hundreds of hours on the water and in the gym. We know that Swansea will try and match us stroke for stroke, but we’re determined to make those early mornings pay off!."

A week later (Wednesday 29th April) more than 1000 students from Cardiff and Swansea Universities will compete against each other in sports including football, tennis and fencing. The University with the most wins will be awarded the Varsity Trophy.

The day will culminate with the Welsh Varsity Match at Cardiff Arms Park where 8000 spectators are expected to turn up to watch Cardiff’s rugby clash with Swansea.

Martyn Fowler, head of rugby at Cardiff said: "This is the definitive date in the Rugby Club’s calendar and one that all involved look forward to. Although we are without some of our influential club members and full professional players, we have enough strength to offer Swansea a very competitive challenge. Historically, we are the underdogs. It is testament to the club’s growth and potential that we are in many circles expected to win."

The Welsh Varsity Match is also raising thousands of pounds for the Welsh Charitable Trust, an organisation that helps Welsh players who have been injured and consequently disabled playing rugby. Over the past five years the Welsh Varsity has donated more than £25,000 to this charity.

The Welsh Boat Race is hosted by Channel View Centre, and racing starts at 1.15pm on 22nd April.