College Rivalry
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College Rivalry

Pairs of schools, colleges and universities, especially when they are close to each other either geographically or in their areas of specialization, often establish a college rivalry with each other over the years. This rivalry can extend to both academics and athletics, the latter being typically better known to the general public. These schools place an added emphasis on emerging victorious in any event that includes their rival. This may include the creation of a special trophy or other commemoration of the event. While many of these rivalries have arisen spontaneously, some have been created by college officials in efforts to sell more tickets and support their programs.

Definition of a sports rivalry

Rivalries traverse many different fields within society. A rivalry develops from the product of competition and ritualism between different parties. A rivalry is defined as "a perceptual categorizing process in which actors identify which states are sufficiently threatening competitors".[1] Ritualism is "a series of ... iterated acts or performances that are ... famous in terms 'not entirely encoded by the performer'; that is, they are imbued by meanings external to the performer".[2] Everyone that is part of the sports event in some capacity becomes a part of the ritualism. Teams get together before the game to warm up, coaches shake hands with each other, captains have a determinant of who gets the ball first, everyone stands during the national anthem, the fans sit in specific areas, they make certain gestures with their hands throughout the game, they wear specific gear that is associated with the team, and they have the same post-game practices every game of every season of every year.[3] It is through this consistency of playing the same teams yearly that "these rivalries have shown remarkable staying power".[4] Specifically, it is society's drive to disrupt these original rituals that start rivalries. Horst Helle says, "society needs a particular quantitative relationship of harmony and disharmony, association and competition, favour and disfavour, in order to take shape in a specific way".[2] Society is drawn to this in sports because this is a principal characteristic in everyday life, which can be seen in historic religious rivalries, such as the contemporary example of sectarianism in Glasgow. Within an area, differences between two types of people can drive the start of a rivalry. Competition and support keep the rivalry going.

In sports, competition tests who has better skill and ability at the time of the game through play. Many rivalries persist because the competition is between two teams that have similar abilities. Spectators gravitate towards competitive rivalries because they are interesting to watch and unpredictable. Society follows competitions because competitions influence "the unity of society".[5] Being loyal to one team in a rivalry brings a sense of belonging to a community of supporters that are hoping that the team they are rooting for wins. The fans of the two different teams do not sit next to each other because this disrupts the community. In a similar way, competition displays an indirect way of fighting.[5] Society does not condone direct fighting as a way of getting something so this is the most passive aggressive way of fighting. Because this is an acceptable practice, there are many supporters of competition as they fuel a way for the people to participate in a rivalry without the consequences of fighting. However, when the competition is not enough in sports and the tensions are high fighting does ensue.

Important contributors that fuel a rivalry

An important precursor to having a rivalry is having intense competitive play between two sports teams within the ritualistic structure of the game. A competition is "a form of struggle fought by means of objective performances, to the advantage of a third [party]",[6] which in sports is driven by the team dynamic, and external outlets such as the fans and the media. These external outlets give rivalries more distinctive importance. An example of a rivalry that embodies this is the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.

The team dynamic

In such sports as basketball and football there is a stress on the importance of teamwork. This is so because the team is a smaller society that needs to function properly. This means that they need good communication and get necessary goals accomplished for the team. Because of this, the individual on the team is seen as less important than the group as everyone works toward the goal of making the group the best it can possibly be. Players do this "in the form of obedience to authority, group loyalty, and the willingness to sacrifice for the good of the group."[7]

The spectators

The spectators, also known as fans, of sporting events are the largest population associated with the event. Fans exhibit "intangible feelings of pride, solidarity, and pleasure" for a particular team[8] and brand loyalty, which means that they "heavily identify[y] with a particular team or university and have shown that the self-esteem of these ardent fans can be affected by their team's success in competition".[3] This is important in rivalries because fans can determine the outcome of the game and the overall mood throughout the game. The fans have a lot of power because of this fact and therefore possess indirect power and determination on the outcome of the game.

The media

The media connect the team, with the fans and the rest of the world. "The media do[es not] 'tell it like it is.' Rather, they tell it in a way that supports the interests of those who benefit from cultural commitments to competition, productivity, and material success."[9] This is known as consumerism because the media influences society's emotions to think of the rivalries in a way that will get people to be as passionate about the game as they want to be. It is spectators' enjoyment of sports and the associated rivalries that drive media sport consumption.[9]


Each sport has an annual intercollegiate showdown between the two prestigious schools, known as the "Intercol". These are considered by the two colleges to be the most important games of the season, and the fiercely fought matches draw big crowds of students and old scholars from both schools. The Intercols have been played for over 100 years. The Cricket Intercollegiate match has been competed in since 1878. According to Richard Sproull this is "the oldest unbroken annual contest in the history of cricket" (Weekend Australian 5/6 December 1992). For the sport of rowing, the intercol is competed during South Australia's 'Head of the River Regatta', on the second to last Saturday of the first school term, with one of the two school's taking out the statewide title nearly every year since its beginning.

In 1991, the following legend was printed in the Centennial Rugby Programme, dubbed - "The Battle of The Colours", for the 100th anniversary of the annual Nudgee vs Terrace rugby match. The legend has it that the two St Joseph's, who both wore the Christian Brothers traditional Blue and White, played off in a Rugby game to decide who would keep the prestigious colours. As the story goes Nudgee won the match seeing them keep the colours with Gregory Terrace changing to the now famed Red and Black. This fierce rivalry has continued ever since in every sport yet Rugby continues to stand head and shoulders above the rest, with crowds of up to 10 000 attending First XV fixtures. As two of the biggest Rugby schools in Australia the schools also compete for the St Joseph's Cup.

Intercollege Sport has been played between Jane Franklin Hall, Christ College and St. John Fisher College for many years, with many sports played, most importantly Rugby, Cricket and Australian Rules football. These matches are fiercely contested, indeed playing a part in the winning Rugby side is considered the crowning achievement in ones time at college. Jane Franklin Hall has had the edge in sporting prowess over the years in most sports - with its winning streak in Soccer extending back to the mid 1980s, for example - apart from Rugby which is very tightly contested, with Christ College coming out the victor more often over recent years. Each year, the colleges compete for the Intercollege Cup, which is decided based on points earned from sporting results. Each sport is allocated various points for first, second and third, and weighted to reward the college that wins the more prestigious sports of Rugby, Football and Cricket, with Rugby given the highest weighting.


Rivalry started in the 1830s when the Free University of Brussels was established as a non-religious and freethinking university whereas the old Catholic University of Leuven - refounded in 1835 - remained under Church control. The rivalry survived the division of the two original foundations into separate Dutch-speaking and French-speaking establishments, in 1968 and 1970 respectively. Nowadays control of the Church over the two catholic universities has diminished and they are largely pluralist, accepting students and professors from all religions and backgrounds, but the rivalry with the two secular universities in Brussels continues. This rivalry finds expression mainly among academics and traditional student activities as intercollegiate sports remain largely developed in Belgium.


These two schools are cross-city rivals in Ottawa, Ontario and have historically had the largest football rivalry in the country. The Carleton Ravens and the Ottawa Gee-Gees played the annual Panda Game from 1955 to 1998, which consistently garnered a national spotlight and was renowned for its size and popularity. The Panda Game was absent for 15 years after Carleton shut down their football program, but was revived in 2013 when Carleton restarted their football program.[11]

The rivalry is also on display on the basketball court, where both schools' teams are among the best in Canada.

These two universities have one of the oldest rivalries in Canada. Western, located in London, Ontario and Queen's, located in Kingston, Ontario are two of the older schools in Ontario and are both notable academic institutions. The rivalry is ever present in Football when the two schools meet every year.

Historically, Toronto and York compete at the Annual Red & Blue Bowl Football Game, which attracts alumni and many students from both universities. Other rivalries exist in hockey, rowing and academics, which both score quite well. All three schools are located in the city of Toronto

Cross-city rivals located in Vancouver, British Columbia. See Shrum Bowl


Mainland China


High schools & Preparatory classes: Lycée Louis-le-Grand and Lycée Henri IV in Paris, which are commonly seen as the most prestigious public high schools.

Business Schools: ESSEC Business School and HEC Paris have been fierce rivals with HEC topping most rankings and ESSEC often coming second.[19] However, ESSEC has long been considered an entrepreneurial powerhouse, more dynamic and open-minded than HEC, whilst the latter has constantly been accused of snobbish attitudes due to the elitist mindset of its student population. Whether either assumptions are true or false, those two schools have produced the elite of French business circles, alongside the other "Parisian" business school ESCP Europe, which is usually ranked third in France.[20]

Engineering Schools: The famous engineering schools, such as ParisTech members, usually compete in national sports tournaments, but also in technological competitions such as the French Robotics Cup or the Mash Marathon. In these situations some of the schools chose to form alliances, like Supélec and Arts et Métiers ParisTech that build common robots.

Other Schools: The "Critérium" of the Institut d'études politiques (IEP) is an annual multi-sport competition between the 9 IEPs. It is traditionally held on the last weekend of March with the host city changing every year. It is the occasion for the IEPs located in French regions to challenge the more prestigious IEP Paris (known as "Sciences Po"). A final opposing Paris to, for example, Lyon would see students from all over France cheering for Lyon, especially with the anthem "Province unie, tous contre Paris !" ("Province united, all against Paris !", the "province" being a somewhat pejorative term used to designate any place in France outside of Paris). The Paris students would respond by boasting their status as a Grande école and élite institution.[]


Hong Kong










University Athletic Association of the Philippines

National Collegiate Athletic Association (Philippines)

Other leagues

  • AMA Computer University and STI Colleges, NAASCU's cyber war.[]
  • Sta. Clara Parish School and St. Mary's Academy (Tacla-SMA Rivalry) (Libertad, Pasay Rivalry)
  • Sta. Clara Parish School and San Isidro Catholic School (PC-PRISA HS Division Basketball)
  • Paco Catholic School and Pateros Catholic School (PCS Rivalry)

South Korea

Sri Lanka




-The two faculties are situated side by side. When ?nek Bayram? (literal meaning, The Cow Festival, idiomatic meaning: The Nerd festival), the traditional festival of the Faculty of Political Sciences is being celebrated, the booing from the Faculty of Law is also a long tradition.

United Kingdom


Oxford and Cambridge have a rivalry which dates back to the 13th century; see Oxford and Cambridge rivalry, Blue (university sport), the Boat Race, The Varsity Game, The Varsity Match, the Rugby League Varsity Match, and the Ice Hockey Varsity Match. Colleges within each University are also known to nurture keen rivalries, such as that between Oriel College, Oxford and Pembroke College, Oxford, centred around rowing, that between Exeter College, Oxford and Jesus College, Oxford, both being directly opposite each other on Turl Street, or that between Brasenose College, Oxford and Lincoln College, Oxford, one of two pairs of "semi-detached" colleges in Oxbridge - the other being Balliol College and Trinity College in Broad Street, Oxford. Another keen rivalry is that between St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and the Queen's College, Oxford, dating back to the time when the Queen's College owned St Edmund Hall. In Cambridge, rivalries exist between St John's and Trinity, two of the richest colleges of the university and all of Oxbridge. Rivalries have also been established between Colleges in Oxford and Cambridge, such as that between Robinson College, Cambridge and St Catherine's College, Oxford.

University College London and King's College London have a rivalry that has been a part of London life for nearly two centuries. It can be traced to their foundation in the 1820s when King's College was established as an Anglican alternative to the secular University College. The third-oldest university in England debate between the two universities and other parties continues to this day.

King's College London and University of Bradford also have a departmental rivalry. King's College London's War Studies department faces Bradford University's Peace Studies department, in an annual football match for the 'Tolstoy Cup'. The rivalry between 'War' and 'Peace' studies teams is one of the great sporting rivalries, being featured at number four on the Financial Times list of "Great College Sports Rivalries".[37]

Lancaster University and University of York have a rivalry which has lasted since the formation of the universities at similar times in the 1960s. There is an annual sports competition between the university named the Roses Tournament, which takes its name after the 15th Century civil war between the House of York and the House of Lancaster. The first event was held in 1965 and has been an annual tradition ever since.

Northumbria University and Newcastle University have a rivalry based upon the close geographical relationship attributed between both universities, with Northumbria University being situated extremely close to the older Newcastle University in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1994 the Stan Calvert Cup was instituted as a multi-sport competition between the two universities; but in 2018 Newcastle University decided to withdraw from the cup for the foreseeable future.[38]

University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University have a rivalry being the cities two principal universities with the battle for the 'varsity cup' taking place every year when over 1,000 students from both universities compete in over 15 different sports.[39]

University of Essex and University of East Anglia have an annual competition known amongst the students as "Derby Day", as well as competing academically.


United States

School rivalries are important in the United States, especially in intercollegiate sports. Rivalries within conferences are list below. Some rivalries, such as the Indiana-Kentucky rivalry, take place between two schools from different conferences.

The Caltech-MIT rivalry is unusual for both the geographic distance between the schools (their campuses are separated by about 2500 miles and are on opposite coasts of the United States) and the focus on elaborate pranks rather than sporting events.

ACC rivalries

Basketball and football are typically the hot-button sports in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), though most rivalries bridge across all sports. The most notable rivalries include:

All sports

- Conference
- Nonconference


- Conference


- Conference
- Non-conference

America East rivalries

Basketball is typically the hot-button sport in the America East Conference, though most rivalries bridge across all sports. The most notable rivalries include:

- Non-conference

Big East rivalries

The Big East Conference, founded as a basketball conference, is a league of 11 Division I schools, with only UConn playing FBS-level football. The conference, while centered in the northeast, is also geographically diverse, stretching from Nebraska to New England. Current rivalries include:

  • Butler Bulldogs and Xavier Musketeers - among the most successful Division I men's basketball programs in the 21st century, the two schools were founding members of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference,[45] and were also two of the three Midwestern schools invited to join the Big East at its relaunch in 2013.
  • DePaul Blue Demons and Marquette Golden Eagles - originally Division I independents, both joined Conference USA and the original Big East at the same time, and are among the "Catholic 7" that formed the current Big East after breaking away from the former members of the conference who all sponsored Division I Football Bowl Subdivision-level football. One of several sports rivalries involving teams from Chicago and Milwaukee, alongside the Brewers-Cubs rivalry and (by proxy) the Bears-Packers rivalry. The rivalry reached its zenith in the late 1970s, when both DePaul and Marquette were national powers. However, the rivalry has, as of late, heavily favored Marquette, with the Milwaukee school winning approximately four out of every five meetings since the early 1990s.
  • Georgetown Hoyas and St. John's Red Storm' -- these two "Catholic 7" schools, neither of which plays Division I FBS football (Georgetown plays in Division I FCS, and St. John's has no football program), had their basketball teams rise to prominence in the 1980s, having numerous meetings that impacted the NCAA Championship as well as the Big East title. Both teams were known for their charismatic coaches, John Thompson at Georgetown and Lou Carnesecca at St. John's. Rivalry has declined in recent years. This rivalry has also influenced other sports, as the two schools' baseball teams opened Citi Field on March 29, 2009 with the third game of a three-game series that started at Georgetown. The Hoyas won the game, and the series.
  • Georgetown-UConn men's basketball rivalry -- first game played between the two schools took place on December 22, 1958.
  • Georgetown Hoyas and Villanova Wildcats -- these two Division I FCS football schools share an intense rivalry in basketball, stemming from Villanova's defeat of John Thompson's Hoya team in the 1985 NCAA championship game. The rivalry takes on a religious tone as Augustinian (Villanova) versus Jesuit (Georgetown). Jokes about the opposing orders fly back and forth during the week preceding Villanova-Georgetown. In recent years the rivalry has undergone somewhat of a revival, with both teams enjoying success in the regular season and recent NCAA tournaments. This rivalry continues in the reconfigured Big East.[46]
  • Providence Friars and Villanova Wildcats -- the two smallest schools in the original Big East battle each year. The rivalry is also elevated by the Catholic orders which run the schools; Providence's Dominicans and Villanova's Augustinians.
  • St. John's Red Storm and Seton Hall Pirates - two local "Catholic 7" schools battle every year in basketball. New York vs New Jersey bragging rights are on the line as well as competing for many local basketball recruits in the area.
- Non-conference
  • Notre Dame-UConn women's basketball rivalry - a rivalry that started in the 1990s when both schools were members of the original Big East, intensified in the 2000-01 season with three pivotal matchups (one of which became the focal point of a published book), and became nationally significant in the 21st century, especially after UConn's rivalry with Tennessee went on a 13-year hiatus. Notre Dame was responsible for more than half of UConn's losses from 2011 to 2019 (8 out of 15).
  • Rutgers-UConn women's basketball rivalry - a rivalry that intensified after Tennessee stopped scheduling Rutgers in non-conference play.
  • Stanford-UConn women's basketball rivalry - another nationally significant rivalry, with five of their 18 total meetings coming in the Final Four.
  • Tennessee-UConn women's basketball rivalry - the women's basketball rivalry between the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers and the University of Connecticut Huskies is one of the fiercest rivalries in college basketball, and perhaps the only one to reach national consciousness out of the women's game. This rivalry was halted in 2007 due to a falling-out between the schools' head coaches (respectively Pat Summitt and Geno Auriemma), and did not resume until 2020 (four years after Summitt's death).

Big Ten rivalries

Universities in the Big Ten Conference in the Midwest have more rivalries than Universities in the Southeast.



Big 12 rivalries

Current rivalries in the Big 12 Conference include:

Other current rivalries involving Big 12 schools include:

Former Big 12 rivalries that are now dormant due to conference realignment in the early 2010s include:

Colonial Athletic Association rivalries

Rivalries in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) include:

Ivy League and service academy rivalries

Rivalries between and among the Ivy League schools and the service academies include:

Pac-12 rivalries

The Pac-12 Conference falls neatly into six regional pairings, leading to strong natural rivalries. Three of these pairs are cross-state rivals, one pair is within the same metropolitan region (San Francisco Bay Area), and one pair vies for bragging rights within the same city (Los Angeles).

Other Pac-12 rivalries:

Additional non-conference rivalries involving Pac-12 schools (the most famous of which is arguably Notre Dame-Southern California) can be found in other sections of this article.

Notre Dame rivalries

The University of Notre Dame has numerous football rivals, the most notable of which include:

  • Boston College - a game between the only two Catholic colleges that have Football Bowl Subdivision football programs. They compete for the Ireland Trophy. The rivalry has also been dubbed "The Holy War". This is one of several rivalries that have been revived on an intermittent basis following Notre Dame's 2013 entry into the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC); while Notre Dame remains an independent in football, it has agreed to play five games per season against ACC schools, and to play all other ACC members at least once every three years. The first game under this new arrangement was won by Notre Dame at Fenway Park in 2015.
  • Michigan State University - a series that includes one of several "Games of the Century", the 1966 matchup that ended in a 10-10 tie. The teams play for the Megaphone Trophy. The game will be played less often in the future, due both to Notre Dame's new ACC commitments and the Big Ten increasing its conference schedule to nine games in 2016.
  • Northwestern University - a rivalry that had its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s and even featured a Shillelagh trophy much like the ones that go to the winner of the Notre Dame-USC and Notre Dame-Purdue games. This rivalry game has been played infrequently in recent years.
  • Purdue University - The Shillelagh Trophy. To be played less often in the future for the reasons mentioned in the Michigan State discussion.
  • University of Miami - initially an easy win for the Irish, became a rivalry that was at its peak in the 1980s and often held national title implications. This is another rivalry that was revived following Notre Dame's arrival in the ACC; the first games under the new deal were in 2016 and 2019, with the next matchup expected to be in 2022. See also: Catholics vs. Convicts.
  • University of Michigan - a game between two of the winningest college football programs of all time. This rivalry went on hiatus after the 2014 season due to Notre Dame's ACC commitments.
  • United States Military Academy (Army) - a rivalry held almost every year from an initial meeting in 1913 to the 1950s, in the era when the two were among the top schools in the nation, the two now play infrequently, with the most recent game occurring in 2016 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
  • United States Naval Academy (Navy) - a rivalry which Notre Dame has dominated. Navy won this game in 2007 for the first time since 1963, and again in 2009, 2010, and 2016, somewhat reversing the lopsided nature of the rivalry the previous four decades. It is one of the longer-running series in college football and is always hard-fought on both sides. Before Navy became a football-only member of the American Athletic Conference in 2015, the two schools were the longest-standing independents in Division I FBS. The rivalry is officially scheduled through the 2026 season, and is expected to continue indefinitely.
  • University of Pittsburgh - longtime rivals that shared Big East Conference affiliations (except in football) and ACC affiliations when both schools joined the ACC in 2013. Many of Notre Dame's most famed talents such as Joe Montana, Lou Holtz and Johnny Lujack hail from the Pittsburgh area. The "public vs. private" aspect as well as always having opposing team members that have played with or against each other since grade school has given the contest a unique distinction of dividing neighborhoods or even families during a fall Saturday. This rivalry will be played once every three years as part of Notre Dame's agreement to play five ACC schools per season.
  • University of Southern California[47] - Playing for the Jeweled Shillelagh, it is a game between two of the three teams with the most Heisman Trophies. See also: Notre Dame-USC football rivalry
  • Stanford University - nicknamed the Legends Trophy, this rivalry is a battle between legend-producing schools. Notre Dame created many legends while Stanford created legends like Jim Plunkett, John Elway, Toby Gerhart, and recently Andrew Luck.
  • Georgia Tech - played on and off since the early mid-20th Century as a North vs. South rivalry of sorts. Following Notre Dame's arrival in the ACC, the rivalry resumed in 2015 and 2018, with the next meeting expected to be in 2021.

Additionally, Notre Dame men's basketball has traditional rivalries with DePaul University, Marquette University, and UCLA when each of the programs met regularly and were national contenders. Notre Dame women's basketball has developed a nationally significant rivalry with the University of Connecticut, with a published book focusing on one specific matchup.

Midwest rivalries

Northeastern rivalries

Summit University & Keystone College This rivalry is the biggest game for the two colleges due to closeness of location and the friendly relations of the school's makes the games in all sports so competitive. There is no football at these schools. They are a 20-minute drive separating campuses. Summit University & Cairn University These teams are the premiere NCCAA teams in the nation fighting it out for top dog in Men's and Women's Soccer. There is no football at these schools. The games are wild and rough with all to play for. They are blood boiling games. The schools passionately dislike each other.

Southeastern rivalries

Universities in the Southeastern U.S., including those in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Conference USA (C-USA), Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), Southeastern Conference (SEC), Southern Conference (SoCon), Southland Conference, and Sun Belt Conference, have perhaps the most complex jumble of rivalries, many associated with annual football games, and often with colorful nicknames:

Old Southeastern rivalries seldom played due to conference obligations, divisional changes etc.:

Texas rivalries

These rivalries involve Texas schools that are not currently members of the Big 12 Conference. In two of these rivalries, both sides involved were members of the old Southwest Conference, four of whose schools were founding members of the Big 12. Another rivalry involves an old SWC team against an Oklahoma rival.

Western rivalries

HBCU rivalries

Religious schools rivalries

See also


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