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The Rugby Union team have been suspended pending further investigation following a series of incidents at this year’s Roses tournament in York.
The matter has now been sent to the University Dean who has opened up an investigation into the various allegations. The LUSU Trustee Board, as a result of the University investigation, has suspended the club’s activities pending the outcome.
Marc Handley, LUSU Vice President (Sports) commented on the behaviour of the Rugby team at Roses this year, saying: “There were issues on the Friday night concerning only a few members of the Rugby club who were extremely drunk. The way they behaved was described as disgraceful by a number of sports teams who were in the crash accommodation at the time and by York University Students’ Union staff who unfortunately were portering for the night.”
University Dean,Matt Storey said: “Regretfully we are investigating events allegedly involving the Rugby team. Incidents of this type are very rare and we are working closely with LUSU and external parties to investigate these allegations further”. Storey also commented that currently there are no plans to have a deanery representative present at Roses tournaments in future.
In a recent article by York’s student newspaper York Vision, the Lancaster Rugby team were accused of “defecating urinating and vomiting on the central hall”. Handley denies this, saying: “I am not aware of this happening. The central hall in York is where the closing ceremony was held, and to my knowledge, there was no Lancaster students staying there.
“Unfortunately though, I know of a few instances of urination and vomiting happening where the teams were staying. I know this because due to the actions on Friday night, I stayed up all Saturday to ensure the same did not happen again and managed to see just how drunk some people got.”
He added: “There are a very small number of the club who are determined to constantly undermine the hard work of the rest of the club in re-building the reputation which has taken quite a few setbacks in the past few years. A lot of teams have got in touch with me to express their anger and disappointment in the way these people acted, and unfortunately it is my role to ensure people feel represented and their views are aired.”
Members within the rugby team are also conscious of the image the club have been tarred with following reports from Roses. Wilf Whittle, who will be Rugby captain next year, is keen to instill a more professional manner into the club’s ethos.
“As of next year, poor discipline off the field would lead to the player losing his position in the team, end of story,” he said. “Rugby is a team sport, actions you make affect everyone within the team and you will be responsible for them”.
Whittle explained that he intends to get professional Rugby players and coaches to come to Lancaster to help train the team with current coach Kieran Doyle. He expressed his hopes that this will “aid our professionalism and our very talented players within the club”.
“Next year, when people talk about Lancaster University RUFC, we want it to be about our on field exploits rather then what happens off the pitch and I personally will go out of my way to make sure this happens,” Whittle said.
Handley reinforced the fact that the bad behaviour at Roses was carried out was “unfortunate”, saying: “It is unfortunate that this has happened at all, and it is unfortunate that it is only a small number of the club who have caused this trouble and this animosity towards the club, however, this is not the first time this has happened and unfortunately, it hasn’t really left me in a position to defend what happened.”
Asked whether there he was concerned about the reputation of the Rugby club and the University sports team collectively, LUSU President Robbie Pickles said: “I think that, fortunately, the damage to Lancaster’s reputation is likely to small and fleeting in people’s memories. This does not, however, make bad behaviour acceptable. I am confident that this issue is being dealt with properly and that the result will be satisfactory to all parties.”