What is BUCs and its history?
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BUCS: What is it and its history?

Seth Nobes January 10, 2022

Everyone at university is aware of BUCS. However, this does not mean everyone is aware of what it actually is. You may wonder why all the sporty people at uni are discussing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an American Football team. I can say with almost certainty that, in 9 out of 10 of these conversations, it is not Tampa Bay – or the Bucs as their fans call them – being discussed.

So what is BUCS? And where did it come from? 

What is BUCS?

BUCS is an acronym for British Universities and College Sports. It is the national governing body for higher education sports, organising sports leagues and competitions between universities all over Britain. The organisation has been highly influential in university sport since its inception. Its mission is ‘to create the best university sport experience in the world.’ 

Arguably the main focus of BUCS is to facilitate competitive university sport. It organises competition in 53 sports, including traditional ones such as football, hockey and cricket. However, it also allows universities to compete against one another in lesser known sports like korfball, ultimate (frisbee) and Gaelic football. 

It offers universities the opportunity to compete on three stages: regional, national, and international. The regional and national stages allow the universities’ sports teams to compete against those of a similar level, often on a Wednesday afternoon.

It occurs most frequently on this day as it is a tradition in the UK for no teaching to take place after 1pm on Wednesdays to allow for extra-curricular activity. If you fancy it, there will be a whole host of good quality live sport going on around your university to watch at that time.

The international aspect of BUCS organises the Great Britain squad to the bi-annual Summer World University Games. This multi-sport event is second only to the Olympics, with the next one taking place in Chengdu, China in June and July 2022. This edition will include 17 sports. 

The history of BUCS

BUCS has been organising competitive university sport for well over 100 years, with its roots dating back to 1918. Back then, the Presidents of University Unions conference, which was taking place in Manchester, identified the necessity for an association responsible for the organisation of university sport.

The first athletic meet took place in 1919, with nine of the founding universities competing. Four years later, the Woman’s Inter-Varsity Board was established, allowing women to compete for their university as well as men. 

However, until 1952, competition between universities was only domestic. It was in this year that the British Universities Sports Board was established, allowing university students to now compete internationally. This board lasted for ten years, at which point it was replaced by the British Universities Sports Federation (BUSF), with membership open to all UK universities. 

The Woman’s Inter-Varsity Boards in England and Wales merged in 1979 to become the Universities Athletic Union, which became the British Universities Sports Association (BUSA) when it was joined with the BUSF in 1994. For the first time, men’s and women’s university sport was ruled by the same governing body.

The association became what it is today in 2008, when BUSA, which represented the students, merged with UCS, which represented the teachers. BUCS became the new, national voice for university sport.

See also: Four sports to try at university

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Seth Nobes is a freelance writer for Freshered, focusing on university sport. He is currently studying for an MA in Sports Journalism, as well as the NCTJ diploma, at St Mary's University, Twickenham after graduating with a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Birmingham. Seth is also an editor for the Sports Gazette, with a keen focus on cricket. He has written and commentated on a wide variety of sports, ranging from football and rugby, to sailing and judo, for publications such as Vavel, Deep Extra Cover, Burn FM, and Redbrick. He is also a long-suffering Watford fan, for his sins.