About Saints Sport

Saints Sport is the overarching title and brand that encompasses all of the facilities, services and activities of the University of St Andrews sports department, including the autonomous Athletic Union, our teams, clubs, athletes and staff.

Our history

Sport has played an important part of life in St Andrews ever since the founding of the University in 1413. The earliest record of student sport in St Andrews dates back to 1618 for the Archery Club. The next clubs to be founded were the University Golf Club in 1855 and the Rugby Football Club in 1858, but it wasn’t until 1901 that student sport was fully represented when the Athletic Union was instituted by Prof Scott Lang.

“While the primary purpose of the university is to train the mind of the student it is now recognised that this cannot be done without due attention to the training of the body.”

Scott Lang
Peter Redford Scott Lang
– President of the University of St Andrews Athletic Union, 1901

 

A year later, University Rector Andrew Carnegie gifted the first sports facilities to the University and subsequently became Honorary President of the Athletic
Union.

In the second annual report of the Athletic Union it was stated that the Lord Rector “would present to the students of St Andrews a recreation ground, properly laid out and enclosed, a pavilion with dressing rooms, baths and a caretakers house and also a complete modern gymnasium.

“To try to make the world in some way better than you found it is to have a noble motive in life.”

Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie
– Rector 1901-1907

 

The Department of Physical Education was introduced by the University in 1955, with the first Sports Centre built in 1968 when the student body was fewer than 2,000 and the sports in which they took part were limited, as was student involvement.

By 1996 new facilities were desperately needed and the sand-dressed synthetic turf pitch, outdoor tennis courts and running track were installed. This was followed two years later by a minor redevelopment of the gym and fitness suite.

In 2004 the department changed name to the Department of Sport & Exercise.

Saints Sport was established in November 2010 to move the Athletic Union (AU) in conjunction with the Department of Sport & Exercise.

2012 saw the sand-dressed pitch and outdoor tennis courts resurfaced and the installation of a new full size floodlit FIFA 2 Star\World Rugby approved Third Generation (3G) synthetic pitch for rugby, football and lacrosse.

The next chapter in our history began in 2015 with the start of a major £14m redevelopment and extension of the Sports Centre. Completed in 2018 with the installation of the indoor tennis centre, the refurbishment of the Sports Centre cemented a major, seven-year investment in sport at St Andrews and brought the indoor facilities in line with the rest of the estate at University Park.

As the delivery of student sport at the University has evolved, the day-to-day operations of the Athletic Union and department have converged affording a unique relationship between the independent student body and the University.

In 2021 Saints Sport was officially recognised as the formal marque for Sport at the University of St Andrews and the titles for ‘Department of Sport & Exercise’ and ‘Sports Centre’ consolidated and replaced by Saints Sport.

The Athletic Union retains autonomy from the department as an independent constituent body of Saints Sport as outlined in the Constitution of the Athletic Union.

University Park is the area of land housing all University sports facilities, comprising indoor facilities, grass pitches and all-weather pitches and courts. The estate is located in a tranquil setting to the west of the historic town centre and is surrounded by six halls of residence; David Russell Apartments, Agnes Blackadder Hall, Powell Hall, Andrew Melville Hall, University Hall and Whitehorn Hall.