Cuth’s Rugby Banned after Jimmy Savile social

Cuth’s Men’s Rugby Club appeal unsuccessfully against a term-long playing ban

St. Cuthbert’s Society has upheld its decision to ban its Men’s Rugby Club from competitive matches this term after an unsuccessful appeal was made to the university. 

The ban was imposed in the wake of a social organised by the club on Thursday 25 October starting in Cuth’s bar that toured the bars of the hill colleges St. Aidan’s, Grey and Van Mildert. Grey issued a complaint about the behaviour of the social after a plant pot was broken and a member of the Cuth’s team set off a fire alarm.

The social adopted a theme based around disgraced BBC presenter Jimmy Savile as part of an annual ‘current affairs’ social, with the topic chosen traditionally of a tasteless nature. The freshers were dressed as young girls, while the second years wore Jimmy Savile costumes and the third and fourth years came as BBC Panorama reporters and law enforcement officers.

According to the college, the Rugby Club had surrendered their privilege to play after not demonstrating behaviour consistent with accepted values and principles.

Alongside the ban each participant has been fined £50 each, with proceeds going towards the upkeep of the Society’s garden. The social secretaries and club captain will serve 20 hours of community service. Though their initial ban from Cuth’s bar has been lifted, the players have been indefinitely barred from Grey College bar.

As a result of this decision Cuth’s A and B teams, who both compete in the college rugby premiership, will remain banned for the remainder of the term from playing any matches in the league or the Floodlit Cup.

The Club had appealed to the university against their college’s ban because they felt that they had “been unfairly treated compared to another student” (as stipulated on page 32 of the College Handbook). The appeal was made on the grounds that a day after the Cuths’ social, the Hatfield Darts Team had gone on a social with a similar theme and had received one-hour community service as punishment.

However the university rejected the appeal on the grounds that they did not provide sufficient evidence that the Hatfield case was comparable to theirs. Nor did the university consider that they proved the Hatfield team’s punishment was right and thus could be used as a benchmark measure.

One member of Cuth’s rugby declared himself “disillusioned with the appeals process”. He claimed that after their request to appeal was received by Cuth’s Vice Principal, Sharon Richardson, the Rugby Club were not consulted at any point during the process and were not given a chance to put forward their argument personally.

He also considered the club to have been unfairly used to make an example of. “Playing bans are unprecedented. Other colleges such as Hild Bede have had numerous disciplinary hearings, while the university rugby club DURFC have been involved in several serious incidents that have not resulted in playing bans. Would DURFC ever be banned from playing? Absolutely not,” he argued.

The decision to ban the club was met with approval from some members of the student body. One observer commented on the Durham Feminist Forum‘s facebook page, “wow, I’m impressed that it’s being taken seriously, didn’t expect anything to be done”.

  • Matthew McGraw

    They're all just silly arrogant boys. They deserve to be banned, Durham is meant to be one of the UK's most prestigious universities steeped in tradition and honour.

    These rugby lads think they can trample over all of us "scopes" because theyre bigger, and more popular. Maybe this will teach them to strut about town like big dogs all the time.

  • Matthew McGraw

    They're all just silly arrogant boys. They deserve to be banned, Durham is meant to be one of the UK's most prestigious universities steeped in tradition and honour.

    These rugby lads think they can trample over all of us "scopes" because theyre bigger, and more popular. Maybe this will teach them to strut about town like big dogs all the time.

  • Welcome Drinks

    Total rubbish this ban. Distasteful social yes but is one idiot breaking a flower pot and some idiot setting off the fire alarm enough to ban a whole rugby club? I think not.

    Cuths have been made a scape goat against drinking culture of all the university and colleges sports teams. They say it is because they want to stamp down on "initiations" or "welcome drinks" but next year when every team is starting a new season, lets see how many actually stop doing them. No one will. So what will the university do then? Ban everyone from playing any sport? Of course they won't, and when Cuths make an appeal against this, they will be told to be quiet. Totally unfair and total rubbish.

  • bill bryson

    I understand they did something wrong – obviously they were never going to get away with setting off a fire alarm in front of the porters or get away with intimidating people who work on the bars. – it can be funny, but it was stupid.

    Part of my problem with the ban is that If they had merely been a group of friends doing this, then there would have been less of an issue, and probably less punishment. The fact that they play in the same team does not mean that you should punish the whole institution.

    Anyone who has experienced college sports teams will know that the social side is very different from the playing side. Dont stop them playing rugby, ban them from bars, fine them, let them do community service, but let them play rugby. They are a good team and on the pitch show discipline and good sportsmanship so why take that away from them.

    As a member of another college team, i would rather play to them, and lose to them, then them not play at all.

  • Simple simon

    Matthew McGraw – Sorry to point out the obvious, but Durham has maintained its standard as one of the best universities in the country for many years while these sorts of socials and welcome drinks are going on.

    If you want to maintain these 'traditions' of which you are so fond then there would be all out initiations and socials which, with the current university line, would get members expelled from the university.

    Please don't use the tab as a means to publicly declare you have an enormous chip on your shoulder.

  • Ivanna Tinkle

    @Simple Simon, I'm pretty sure it wasn't the breaking of a plant pot, more things like pinning a member of Bar Comm up against the wall by his throat because he stopped the social from stealing a darts board that did it.

    I'm sorry to see things go like this but, all in all, Cuth's were too big for their boots and needed a readjustment.

    @Kieth Gue – I'd rather see Cuth's work to improve the standard of Div 1, not just aim to break less talented rugby players in order to make a point.

  • Viper

    I feel sorry for the freshers involved. It would be very difficult for them to say no to the social as they try to ingratiate themselves in the club and college and now they're all stuck with a ban and a fine.

    • Old-Boy

      You have clearly never been in Cuths rugby or any rugby club for that matter. We loved the stupid shit you're tasked with as a fresher, it made you feel like one of the lads and no-one has to be pressured into anything. Don't talk about things you don't understand, you mug.

  • John Ford

    Who is pretending to be John Ford on this? Wan Kerr is this you? Grow up!

  • Philip Kilby

    What do you mean disgusting and triggering? What’s ‘triggering’?

    Anything can be made the subject of a joke, it’s not insensitive or tasteless, it’s just how the world works.
    Making Jimmy Saville jokes doesn’t do anyone any harm, it just puts jimmy saville and his actions further into the “figure of ridicule” box.

    Before you mention it, being offended, doesn’t count as harm.

  • Sam Page


  • Friend of victims.

    Nice to see my earlier comment seems to have been deleted, yet was obviously published at one point since it has been responded to.

    By 'triggering' (and I should probably have explained this, sorry) I mean that victims of abuse or rape can have an uncontrollable negative reaction to seeing depictions of their abuse, particularly if that abuse is being made into a joke. This is one of the reasons you get warning notices put on films etc, and warnings for graphic images or descriptions in a lot of online articles. People can have a reaction that can range between just feeling sick and upset to having a full on panic attack.

    I refuse you to defend yourself with 'it's just how the world works' – so are genocide, rape, child abuse, terrorism 'just how the world works' too? No, these things are horrible and we need to work to stop them happening. One of the ways to do this is to stop them being the punchline of jokes which DOES cause harm – it normalises them, trivialises them, and stops them being seen as the serious offenses they are.

    • thetab

      Sorry we are having technical problems with comments, particularly relating to ones which receive replies. I assure you there is no way we would delete your comment deliberately. Apologies, Jack Rivlin (tab team)

  • Charles Whitcombe

    What is Jimmy Saville?

  • Charles Whitcombe

    The trevs barman should have tried a barrel roll?

    Seriously though, what is a Jimmy Saville?

  • anon

    why does anyone care about college rugby anyway


    This is all so college…

  • Pingback: Rugby club dress up as Jimmy Saville and his victims, don’t cause outrage | Planet Ivy()

  • A VM student.

    This does nothing more than jeopardise both leagues next season – a very strong Cuth's A side competing in the lower league will mean that there is very little point in other college sides competing for promotion, as if Cuth's A, for a long time the strongest side in college rugby, are allowed to be demoted, then it will be a foregone conclusion as to who is promoted. A better punishment would be a social ban, and an allowance to play matches. Although as every match is being rained off currently it doesn't really matter.

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