UCLan’s Rugby Union club is under investigation after a social in which club members allegedly ran amok in the car park of PopWorld and French kissed a severed pigs head. Police were called to the venue after reports of club members being naked in public view, bins full of sick and a paddling pool filled with garlic and onions.
The Club Chairman said: “Everything we did was all under consent; we didn’t force any of the boys to do anything which would be what an initiation is.” He added: “Like any other social, we gave everyone the choice. It was all under adult consent.”
Although the club are adamant that it was not an initiation, merely a social activity that all members knew about, this would not be the first time a Rugby Union club have been in trouble this year regarding such events, the University of Nottingham banned their side for two months over an initiation ceremony.
Preston Police gave a statement which said: “It was reported a group of men were drinking outside and being rowdy and the manager was spoken to with some words of advice about behaviour but there haven’t been any arrests and there aren’t any further enquiries.”
Following the reports the Students’ Union launched an investigation into the club and suspended them until further notice pending the outcome which could see them being faced with the prospect of de-affiliation from the Union.
They released the following statement: “The Union is aware of an alleged incident at PopWorld involving a number of UCLan students. We are investigating the matter and where it is required we will take the appropriate disciplinary action against the students concerned under the Union’s rules.”
After the alleged incident took place, the whole team were given a twenty-four hour ban from the town centre and PopWorld did not open to the public. The reported social activity included the boys wearing togas to the club then getting naked and going in pairs to each of six different stations that were set up.
The stations included: drinking a spicy drink, apple bobbing in an inflatable pool full of onion and garlic and then French kissing a detached pigs head. The Chairman said: “We went there thinking we were doing it all within the law but we didn’t think about whether we were abiding by the university’s laws, so we were a bit ignorant to the fact that we could be going against what the university rules are.”
Rugby Union is one of the biggest clubs at UCLan, with more than fifty people signing up each year and on a typical night out, up to thirty members attend. He continued: “If you know us, you’ll know we all are really nice guys, I know it would be hard on a Wednesday night to see thirty boys and think we’re all nice, but if you speak to us you’ll see we’re harmless. We have this thing where if you’re a fresher, you have either a 2nd or 3rd year looking after you so it’s almost like a student advisor.
“We call it Grandsons and Godfathers. We look after them throughout their first year and throughout their rugby career at the university.”
The club say no one specifically came up with the activities they took part in that night: “It’s been a thing from over the years. People take ideas from other clubs and roll off each other.”
They are adamant that this was not a case of bullying but just ‘lad banter’, although they have admitted it was, on their behalf, ‘a misjudgement of the place and misjudgement of the time. Overall we just completely misjudged the situation and got caught.’
A club member, who requested anonymity, said: “We all played games, we all enjoyed it, we had fun. I didn’t feel pressured to do anything. A few people didn’t take part, no one was harmed. Some police came and we were told to go home.”
Speaking about the punishment facing the club, the Chairman said: “We’re not exactly sure what our punishment is or how severe it will be. This is why we’re worried because we’re not sure when we’re going to find out. From now until whenever we find out we’re going to be on edge because we came here to get a degree, not play rugby.”
He issued an apology on behalf of the Rugby Union saying: “We didn’t think that we would take the university name or its reputation down but obviously we have and on behalf of the club I’d definitely like to apologise to the university, the police and anyone who has taken offence to this, especially the people who saw it- the people in the flats above. If we had the power of hindsight we would definitely do it differently.”
The team has been pulled out of a BUCS Cup fixture which will result in them paying a £300 fine.
Pluto approached PopWorld for a statement but they declined to comment.
Kadeesha Mckenzie – Deputy News Editor