UCLU Men’s Rugby Team are re-affiliated
Last Friday, 25 January, University College London Union (UCLU) made the decision to re-affiliate the UCLU men’s rugby team. However, the team are now unable to attend the sports ball, host social events, or frequent the Union’s bars. A new rugby committee must also be elected, replacing current members.
Finally, Pi can reveal the reasons behind the controversial suggestion of disaffiliation. According to sources within the club, players were facing a double disciplinary for two separate incidents last term which were reported to the Union. The first occurred in ‘Moonies’, when a group of four rugby players “slapped a girl on the bottom”, before claiming it was part of their initiation, despite initiations being banned by UCLU. The second incident happened in the union bar. The Union stated that pitchers of vomit, and pornography were left behind in the bar, although, the photographic evidence that they had against the team, allegedly did not show any vomit. The team were quick to point out that any charges brought against them have come from the university; they have never been accused of drunk and disorderly conduct by nightclubs or the police.
Such behaviour seems to epitomise the ‘lad’ culture which makes university rugby so infamous. Nevertheless, it is easy to forget the ramifications that disbanding would have had upon the team’s members. Jack Tredrea, who claims others would described him as ‘loud, rude and drunk’ has been keen to stress not all club members were involved in these social misdemeanours, yet they all faced serious consequences for the transgressions of a few.
In addition, the club have corporate sponsors who provide them with kit which they must wear for the whole season. If the team was disbanded they would be in breach of contract, resulting in a pay-out to their sponsors for loss of advertising. Furthermore, each team member is asked to pay a £50 joining fee. With 22 members in each of the three teams, the club has pointed out that a huge sum of money would have been wasted.
UCLU men’s rugby first team is also noted for its excellence – they are ranked 36th out of 146 teams on the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) website. The club have also won the Varsity match versus Kings College London (KCL) seven out of the nine times it has been held. Many of UCL’s current freshers with keen sporting and academic ambitions have commented that they chose UCL, and agreed to pay its £9,000 annual fees, partly because of its success in rugby. A disbandment of the team would have been “a huge disappointment for them”.
Rugby president, Tom Carr, ran for Sports Officer at the first student activities meeting last term. There were only 15 people present at that meeting, meaning they couldn’t meet quorum and thus, he could not be elected. At the rescheduled meeting a week later, the women’s rugby team turned up to support their candidate, who was elected and now sits on the committee which discusses matters of discipline.
In similar fashion the annual Sports Awards Committee elections were held last week. This committee oversees all applications made concerning sports awards, such as colours and club of the year.
Student Activities Officer, Abdul-Ahad Akbari, informed us that four men’s rugby members asked to run, alongside two women’s rugby members and three members from other sports teams. Akbari said that he and the Sports Officer, decided to run members from the same team against each other in order to create a diverse panel. He claimed that “the panel is not defined in the bye-laws and, as a result, does not have specific rules.” Men’s rugby has launched a formal complaint into the election, claiming that the two officers adjusted the rules unfairly against them.
Recent interactions between men’s rugby’s and the Union have certainly been interesting and it is undeniable that the team has behaved badly on multiple occasions at social events. The Union’s decision to try and limit these events seems to be more sensible than disbanding what is an excellent sports team, when sober.