Varsity 2020: Disciplinary Outcome Email

On Monday 17th February 2020, the Students’ Union informed all Rugby Club members of the outcomes from ongoing disciplinary action, which included their ban from Varsity. Bath Time uncovered the email which explained that,

between October 2018-October 2019, The SU was aware of an alarming number of disciplinary cases involving club members and club activities”.

This included:

  • More than 30 University disciplinaries of club members due to their behaviour.
  • A quarter of all disciplinaries received by The SU involving the behaviour of rugby club members.
  • Within these, several examples of alleged sexual misconduct and alleged violence.
  • Specific complaints regarding club behaviour at SU events.
  • Underlying behaviour of club members regarding excessive alcohol consumption”.

Whilst these incidents were addressed within SU or University procedures, the email details a specific men’s Rugby pre-season club night event which was of particular concern. On this night, the email states that there was:

  • “Repeated inappropriate behaviour from club members towards women in the venue, leading to 15 separate complaints to the venue management.
  • Three members of the club following a woman into the women’s toilet after being told to leave the woman alone.
  • One woman requesting CCTV footage from the night for an allegation of sexual assault.
  • Rugby union members initiating five separate fights throughout the night”.

The SU’s email concluded,

As we are sure you agree, the above information makes for very uncomfortable reading, and this sustained pattern of behaviour has been noted at the very highest levels of the University. In October 2019, we met with the committee to discuss club culture and members’ behaviour, agree some improvement measures, and decide on appropriate disciplinary sanctions. At this meeting we were impressed with the level of response from the committee, in particular their commitment to improving the culture and behaviour within the club, and this was an important factor in deciding the sanctions we would impose.

One of the sanctions is that men’s rugby union will not represent the University of Bath at Varsity 2020. Each year, the host institution decides which sports will be selected to take part, based on a number of factors, including which sports should be rewarded for their approach to building sporting communities on campus. Based on the above behaviours, we felt that the involvement of men’s rugby union could not be considered for selection for Varsity in 2020.

We have been pleased with the response of the rugby committee to the sanctions imposed, noting in particular on-pitch behaviour, the attendance at the Good Lad Initiative events, and specific reports that we have received regarding club member behaviour.

However, SU, the club committee and head rugby coach are agreed that we need to continue making progress in improving club culture, and would ask you to play your part in ensuring that off-pitch conduct, activities and socials meet the same standards as those on the pitch. Efforts to improve culture are widespread through all sports at Bath, and throughout the UK.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, we encourage you to head to the University report and support pages https://www.bath.ac.uk/campaigns/report-and-support/ as well as SARSAS for specialists in sexual assault support https://www.sarsas.org.uk/.

This follows Bath Time’s announcement of the Varsity ban which can be read here: https://unibathtime.co.uk/2020/02/26/mens-rugby-union-banned-from-varsity-2020-neverokunlessyouplay/?fbclid=IwAR2Tm317eQ3HduA_hIC3-4vUVeqvKVVRPFtWf5qLNG0r1mBlj6Bat5BfO0g

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