Saturday, 20 December 2008

Rugger Club Booted Into Touch

Now in my University career I often had run ins with the Rugby Club. See as Treasurer of one of the light sports (ie small budget) there was a constant conflict with the heavy sports (including the king pins Rugby) over allocation of funding. Some of the most heated discussions in the Students Union (apart from the cultural role of Neighbours) was always the annual budget allocations. Often fighting to defend money to three of the often overlooked areas of student life boy did I usually go shoulder to shoulder with the Rugby guys.

We also tended to go shoulder to shoulder with them every Wednesday and Saturday night in the main Union Bar (actually I should now call it the Guild of Students as it was named when I returned to repeat my final year in the new Kingston University). Of course Rugby players are going to be one of the, if not the, most raucous sports groups on campus. What other sort of guys, and gals, are you going to get who want to ruck and maul, risk losing teeth (more in some cases), bruised and batter face, or possible spinal injury (even despite new guidelines). They like all student sportspeople love to unwind. Most students are aware that Wednesdays and Saturdays after sports activities that the various teams will return to base to let off steam.

Therefore the fact the SRFU founding member Glasgow University Rugby Club like to unwind boisterously is no surprise. What is a surprise is the decision by the University Court to ban them from using the University's name from 1 January. Student sports clubs are also a transient beast, members come and go with the degree cycles. One of the players has said:

"It's simply not fair that we are being punished for incidents that go back six
years, when none of us was playing."

Another pointed out a possible level of victimisation going on when he said:

"What makes us worse than any other rugby club in Britain? What do they do
when they win a game? Take their tops off and sing a few songs. That's what we

"Besides, the union holds Iron Stomach drinking competitions, when
people take their tops off and the staff put out buckets for being sick in - and
that's acceptable."

Now there is always the point that each passing generation of students in a club want to best the legends of the past. Heaven knows if there are still rumours going around Kingston about the Cross County team inflatable banana, which always appeared on the final stage of the final leg in relays. Possible the University of Surrey still remember the occasion they stole away and burst said banana, only for it to reappear at the next event patched up and recovered. But I guess these tales have been exaggerated in the telling or bested by succeeding generations, or at least the tales have if the actions have not.

And that is the thing. The tales are often a heck of a lot worse that the actuality. The reputation often precedes the events. Some in the club have said it is doing its best to move from being a drinking club with a bit of a Rugby problem to a Rugby club with a bit of a drinking problem. Having been in University changing rooms with a whole mob of sports and in senior Rugby and other sports changing rooms and in the bars afterwards, I'd guess that Glasgow definitely aren't the worse behaved Rugby Club in Britain. Student teams have nothing on the schenanigans of those who have jobs, money and often a greater need and enthusiasm to unwind, but the University Court is making them out to be by their actions.

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