Eastern Uni Games 2012: Quiet Tamworth Receives a Rude Awakening

Whilst regularly known as the Australian home of country music, sleepy Tamworth was for one week host to throngs of youths during the 2012 Eastern University Games (EUG). More than 2,000 university students gathered to participate in the annual competition which pits liver function against cardiovascular ability. The sports on offer ranged in physical exertion and actual legitimacy like football and hockey, to the leisurely lawn bowls and ridiculous Ultimate Frisbee.

Both hyped up and written off before the event, few could have had any idea whether Tamworth could successfully host a five night long bender. The opening ceremony was, so very appropriately, staged at the National Equine Centre. To begin, horse riders, lit up like Christmas trees, galloped around the stadium to the ubiquitous chant of “Fuck off U-T-S”, apparently the Johns/USA/Slytherin equivalent of the EUG. With the formalities and cavalry display over with, Canberran house duo, The Aston Shuffle, kicked off the fun times, impressively coaxing a largely sober crowd—due to horribly overpriced drinks—into a night of dance and debauchery. The following nights would all begin with your teammates and their sport’s own brand of drinking game before forming a greater motley crew of ANU athletes for a raucous bus ride to the Imperial Hotel. This venue was much like any other hybrid pub/club establishment and would feel especially familiar to the ANU mob who frequent places like North Bar or Mooseheads. The only striking difference was that wherein a said Canberra venue one who was involved in a full scale brawl might simply be told to take a light stroll and invest in some stomach lining, the guardians of Tamworth’s “Impy” would extract patrons frequently and completely arbitrarily. For example, this writer on consecutive nights, when removed for no apparent reason, received the paltry line, “You’ve been identified as being intoxicated”.  Neither a polite suggestion that most patrons were indeed catatonically intoxicated, nor the more blunt “You’ve been identified as being a fuckwit” proved to be at all persuasive in the attempt to prolong my night.

As mentioned, sport was also a thing and despite in most places appearing like the desolate set of Wake In Fright, Tamworth was home to some top quality facilities. University of Technology Sydney (UTS) was the hot favourite to take out the trophy, having won it the year before and notoriously being the only university to take the competition seriously—the only question being, would anyone care? Whilst ANU managed to win gold in the Men’s Touch and Mixed Ultimate, UTS predictably won out overall, to the complete indifference of all involved. Of slightly more interest, Australian College of Physical Education (ACPE) was awarded the ‘Spirit of the Games’ trophy, which could relate to anything from sportsmanship to the mystical art of hangover recovery, to the per capita amount of sexual intercourse enjoyed.

Whatever is the criteria of this ambiguous trophy and whatever is the ultimate purpose of Uni Games, Tamworth, with its endearingly bogan charm, provided for a fantastic sport infused O-Week like experience.