UEA Men’s Rugby Club has appealed against the Union’s suspension of the club. The Union of UEA Students made the decision to ban the club in reaction to a number of complaints of racism and sexism made against it on Thursday 15 March. In an interview with Concrete, Rob Bloomer, finance officer, said: “Rugby hadn’t been that much of a problem this year, although they were on their last chance after previous incidences”.

Concerns about student welfare

According to Mr Bloomer and community and student rights officer Tash Ross, the decision to suspend the Men’s Rugby Club was made mostly out of concern for student welfare, and partly because the Rugby Club’s behaviour has been having a negative impact on the appearance of the Union and the University.

However, both officers have made it clear that they want the Rugby club to appeal. Bloomer told Concrete: “I hope they do appeal … as it will either prove that we’re accurate with what we’re saying, or if they present something we didn’t previously know about, we can be fair to them.”

In a statement, UEA Men’s Rugby Club president Andy Driver said to Concrete that the club does not condone sexism or racism, and affirmed that they “do not want the reputation of the club, Union or University to be tarnished by the foolish and thoughtless behaviour of some individuals who represent us”. Nonetheless, the club made the decision to appeal because they felt that the punishment was too severe.

Driver stated: “Individuals who are responsible for the accusations against us should be appropriately and severely punished, not the Rugby Club as a whole”. He also claims to have new evidence which was not previously brought to light due to a lack of investigation.

The Men’s Rugby Club has had a history of bad behaviour. Ross claims that the Union has “had to punish the RFC for something every year for the past five years”, including criminal damage amounting to £1,800 at a hotel, as reported by Concrete in March 2011.

Rob Bloomer stated that the present punishment is a culmination of all previous offences, but that the allegations of sexism and racism against the club had led to a faster reaction than would have occurred with any previous offences.

To start the appeal process, Men’s Rugby had to submit the names of those members who had committed sexist and racist offences in their letter of appeal. The appeal will be discussed at Union Council.

Make sure to check out our comprehensive interview with Union Officers Rob Bloomer and Tash Ross, and the official statement from Andy Driver.

Photo by Tom Oliver