The University of Essex is considering pulling out of this year’s Derby Day because its students’ union doesn’t think it can withstand a fourth consecutive defeat. The website of the Essex Student has a clock counting down the seconds until this year’s tournament, which is due to be held on 20th April – but it is now unclear whether the annual fixture will take place.
A frank internal memo, seen by Concrete, predicts that a “likely but nevertheless embarrassing fourth defeat” to UEA would do long-term damage to the reputation of Essex University, and questions whether participation in this year’s event is worth the considerable risk. UEA has won every Derby Day since 2013, meaning that there are now few students left at Essex who remember what victory actually feels like.
The document also reveals that UEA’s victory in 2015’s tournament caused serious emotional trauma for the captains of a number of defeated teams. Several members of Essex’s men’s first rugby squad, who were defeated by UEA 53 – 12, received a short course of counselling. The document goes on to say that Essex is having difficulty filling places on Derby Day teams as a direct consequence of what the students’ union calls its “annual drubbing”.
In radical plans to try to save the biggest sporting event of the year, the Union of UEA Students is considering giving Essex a headstart in some events. An anonymous source told Concrete: “We believe we can get the Essex football teams on board if we give them a one-goal advantage at the start of play. Realistically, we normally thrash them by at least three goals, so we’re confident we can keep Essex happy but still actually win”.
If Essex does refuse to take part in next month’s event, Concrete understands that UEA may re-launch Derby Day in 2017 with another university. Current institutions being considered include Brighton, Aberystwyth and Glasgow.