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.”
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
“To try to make the world in some way better than you found it is to have a noble motive in life.”
The Department of Physical Education was introduced by the University in 1955, with the first Sports Centre built in 1968.
By 2004 the department had changed name to the Department of Sport & Exercise and in 2010 merged with the student run Athletic Union under the banner of Saints Sport. Together, the the Department of Sport and the Athletic Union manage all sport and fitness related activities, services and facilities at the University.
The partnership between the Department of Sport and Athletic Union.
The student run organisation for the support and development of sports clubs at the University.
The original Sports Centre was 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 current 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 2012, the sand dressed pitch and outdoor tennis courts were resurfaced and a new full size floodlit FIFA 2 Star\World Rugby approved Third Generation (3G) synthetic pitch for rugby, football and lacrosse was installed.
In January 2015 we embarked on the next chapter in our history with a major £14m redevelopment and extension of the Sports Centre, which now provides some of the best sports facilities in Scotland.
- modern, spacious gym
- four-court sports hall
- new technical climbing wall
- eight-court arena
- exercise and dance studio
- dedicated performance suite for elite teams and athletes
- four-court indoor tennis centre
- technical climbing wall
Completed in 2018 with the installation of the indoor tennis centre, the refurbishment of the Sports Centre cements a major, seven-year investment in sport at St Andrews and brings our indoor facilities in line with the rest of the facilities at University Park.
University Park is the area of land housing all University sports facilities, including the Sports Centre, grass and all-weather pitches. 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. Situated on the Rathelpie plateau, the site forms part of the Hepburn Gardens Conservation Area, and was gifted to the University in 1904 by notable industrialist and benefactor Andrew Carnegie.
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.”