Rugby Union Club set to appeal against ban

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Photo by Tom Skarbek-Wazynski

Lancaster’s Rugby Union Club will appeal against the recent decision to ban the club. The decision, announced in June, bans the Cats from playing rugby in the 2011-12 season, and will monitor the behaviour of players until June 2012 when a further decision will be made to see if the ban will be extended for another year.

The University Dean said that the club has ‘consistently let itself down and the trust the University has placed in it’.

However, it is the club’s decision to take the ban to appeal, and their defiance can also be seen in the shape of an online petition which has so far gained over 1,200 signatures. A Facebook page called ‘Help save Lancaster University RUFC for the 2011/2012 season’ has also been established to help mobilise support.

The ban came following two major incidents involving the Rugby Club on tour in Prague and away at York during Roses. Regarding the tour, Club Chairman Tim Holloway told SCAN, “we acknowledge that the University must have been shocked and disappointed by the conduct of its students in Prague, but we cannot possibly overstate that the damage was perpetrated by a minority of individuals, and is not consistent with the values and standards that we hold in the rugby club.”

On the incidents that took place at Roses, Holloway commented that the events were “plainly unacceptable” and “unfair on other competitors representing the University.” He was again quick to echo the fact that the actions took place at the hands of a minority of individuals who undermined the dedication and hard work of the majority, and that the club was quick to take full disciplinary action by dealing with the perpetrators and issuing a formal apology to York University.

Regarding the decision itself, Holloway said “if the punishment is meant to have a retributive element, we accept this, but our plea in this case is that the Dean considers a rehabilitative element as well.

“We understand that this will require us to prove not just our good faith, but our absolute determination through our actions, to play and behave (as individuals and as a club) according to standards of which the University would be proud.”

The ban comes as a bitter blow in a year which is likely to see increased interest in the sport, with the Rugby World Cup taking place in September. With a new captain in Wilf Whittle, the club  appeared to be going places, with his links to the semi-professional side Flyde RUFC ushering in a more professional and disciplined era at the club. The captain even had plans for professional coaches such as England legend Jason Robinson, to visit the club during the start of term.

The Dean and the Vice Chancellor will meet on the 8th of September to discuss the appeal, and the club will find out if this has been a success or failure shortly after.

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