Four decades after the establishment of the University of Sydney, Australia’s first university, a meeting of all the University’s Cricket, Football, Boat, Tennis, and Athletics competitors took place in the Stenhouse Library
The result was the formation of the Sydney University Sports Union whose aim was to give students the opportunity to participate in as many sports as possible at an affordable rate. Previously students were required to subscribe to each individual club, making participating in more than one sport a costly exercise. The Fourth Annual Report of the Sports Union presented in 1894 noted its early success. ‘Your Committee cannot but consider that the Sports Union is working well, when they notice the increase in the number of those who not only take part in but represent the University in more than one of these branches.’ In its inaugural year the Sports Union had 166 members. By 1915 twenty five percent of the University’s 1500 students were representing University teams.
Admission of women to the University began in 1881 and it was not long before these pioneering women had made their mark felt in both the academic and sporting arenas. The Ladies’ Tennis Club was formed in 1887, the Women’s Boat Club in 1896 and the Hockey Club in 1908, which culminated in the formation of the Sydney University Women’s Sports Association in 1910.
The residential colleges have long featured in the Sports Union’s history. Football, cricket, rowing and athletics were always popular in the colleges. For members of the Sports Union who lived off campus, however, interfaculty sport was an excellent opportunity to participate in intra-varsity competition. By the mid-1890s interfaculty competitions were annual events with Medicine taking on Arts in football and cricket. The support for interfaculty sport was so great that the Sports Union successfully lobbied the University Senate to have classes cancelled on the afternoon of interfaculty competition so that the competitors would not be disadvantaged.
The Blues tradition, started in 1892, is an example of sports’ continual importance within the University
Athletes proudly take their place next to past Blues which include some of the countries’ most notable athletes.
Sydney University first took on Melbourne University in cricket during the early 1870s. As more Australian universities were established, the competition expanded. The Australian Universities Sports Association was formed in 1907 to oversee and organise these important annual contests. Since its inception in 1993 Sydney University has claimed the Australian University Games title eight times, including 2011, the same year that it was named Overall Australian University Sport Champions, thus continuing Sydney University’s prestige in the sporting community
January 1st 2003 the Sydney University Sports Union and the Sydney University Women’s Sports Association amalgamated creating this country’s premier tertiary sporting body. Five years later, February 15th 2008, marked the launch of the organisation’s new brand now referred to as Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness. In addition to its first class facilities there are more 40 different sports and recreation clubs providing a variety of opportunities for its members. These opportunities range in level from social to national competition.
Today, Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness boasts 15,000 members. We have over 400 sporting scholarship holders within our Elite Athlete Program and host a range of social competitions including College sport, Interfaculty Sport, Intramural Sport and Lunchtime Social Sport to accommodate thousands of active University students on campus each year.