The Capital City Classic: Behind Richmond’s Biggest Rivalry
By Madyson Fitzgerald
The Capital City Classic continues this year with the VCU Rams heading to the University of Richmond to face-off against the Spiders for the second time this season.
The Capital City Classic showcases Richmond’s public school vs. private school rivalry that has lasted for decades. Only 15 minutes away from each other, the schools first clashed in 1976, where the Spiders beat the Rams with a score of 71-65. The rivalry stayed within the Colonial Athletic Association until Richmond left for the Athletic 10 Conference. In 2012, the rivalry flared up once again with VCU joining the A10 as well.
For three years, UR held the series until 1979, when VCU took the lead and never looked back. The largest victory occurred in 1996, when VCU defeated Richmond 89-55, a 34 point gap. VCU also has the longest winning streak, lasting from 1977 to 1979. Through the season meetings, conference tournaments and exhibitions, the Rams continue to lead the series today with 54 wins to Richmond’s 30. In total, the teams have had 84 meetings, and Saturday marked the next big clash.
Their first meeting this season, held at the Siegel center on January 28, ended in a VCU victory with a score of 87- 68. Freshman Nah’Shon Hyland, Santos-Silva and Jenkins led the Rams in scoring, with junior Corey Douglas getting a game-high of eight rebounds. Golden led the Spiders with a game-high of 24 points. Junior Nathan Cayo and Gilyard also held strong with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Despite being tied at halftime, the Rams pulled ahead for a roaring lead of 19 points to take the game.
Students at both schools were looking forward to the 85th meeting of the Capital City Classic teams. Arjun Goswitz, a freshman at UR, knew that the crowd will bring the excitement to the game.
“I’m most excited for the energy in the stadium. It’s a big-time game, and those really bring out the crowd, especially with a huge rivalry,” Goswitz said.
From football games to lacrosse matches and now basketball rivalries, the Richmond Rowdies show up and show out at every big game. Donning balloon hats in the shape of arachnids and Spiderman costumes, students at UR are ready for the face-off. “People get heated and the crowd gets so loud,” Goswitz continued. “Richmond is a school full of passionate students. It’s just a fun atmosphere.”
Judeah Hackett, a VCU student, was looking forward to the face-off on Saturday. She said the Ram’s determination is the key to winning. “The most exciting thing about VCU basketball is that they never fail us by always putting up a good fight,” Hackett said.
VCU’s student section is notorious for bringing out the best part of the Classic. From their “You Don’t Want to Go to War With the Rams” pep song to their Naismith Student Section of the Year Award, The Rowdy Rams in yellow, black and white have a way of creating excitement for the rest of the audience. “The energy at the games is unbelievable,” Hackett continued, “from the basketball players showing off their talent to the people in the stands showing support. It makes you feel like you’re on the court, too, going hard for your team.”
As the third completely sold out game of the semester, the Robins Center wall packed with fans from both schools. The public school spirit went head-to-head with the tight-knit, private community. This dynamic offers advantages and disadvantages for both teams. With a total enrollment of over 31,000 students, the public Virginia Commonwealth University offers a larger crowd and more turnout than Richmond. However, University of Richmond’s alumni, parents and students form a close-knit community formed by a smaller campus. Either way, the Robins Center is sure to be loud.
The Rams entered the game off of a loss from George Mason, putting their record at 17-7. The Spiders, rolling through La Salle for a three-game winning streak, will continue the season with a record of 18-6.
Richmond faced VCU for the last time this season on Saturday, February 15 at 4 p.m. in the Robins Center. The Lumber Liquidators Capital City Classic will carry on as an exciting face-off in the city of Richmond.