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Eating live goldfish and sliding in vomit: Inside the UK’s most grim initiations

When is someone going to call time on this?


If you approach anyone from a university club or society and ask them about initiations, they will probably stay silent. The so-called “welcome drinks” are the best-kept secret on campus.

That’s because if anyone does spill, the rumours you hear of sports teams forcing new members to drink til they vomit, shave their heads and slide around in their own shit – are actually true.

Despite many students’ unions and universities banning the processes, it’s no secret they still happen.

The University of Birmingham Hockey Club were been banned from attending sports night following a survey showing initiations had a negative impact on members’ mental health.

A Student Room user says first years are made to “suck up” to older team members at sports clubs, and the culture within the club they were a part of was the “final straw” – before they left.

Here are some of the worst initiations in recent history, and what happened.

Freshers were made to apple bob with dead rats and rub chillies on their genitals

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Manchester initiations

In 2017, The Manchester Tab spoke to members of the university’s rugby club. They said initiations allegedly involved a sick type of apple bobbing in which a dead rat had to be fished out of a barrel of cider with the mouth, whilst people drank pints from the same barrel.

The freshers also allegedly had chillies rubbed on their genitals, and were forced to eat the hottest chilli there is – which has a history of hospitalising people.

They were allegedly forced to drink copious amounts of alcohol, and said it’s “obligatory to throw up”.

It was alleged players then had to wrestle naked in sick.

Different activities included one in which a sheet was put down and any person who needed to shit, piss, or vomit throughout the night had to do it on the sheet and at the end of the night everyone had to slide down.

Club members told The Tab Manchester about a well known incident in which one fresher had to maintain eye contact as his rugby “Dad” got wanked off in a strip club as a punishment for not completing an earlier challenge.

One student said: “I know someone who had to shave their head as a forfeit so their friend [who was already paralytic] didn’t have to down another pint.”

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Freshers had cooking oil poured into their eyes

According to The Times, initiations for Durham University hockey team involved freshers having cooking oil poured into their eyes.

Players were forced to drink alcohol, and dive into a paddling pool. One student was taken home, where he blacked out and vomited.

Durham sports teams have reportedly been shifty about their initiation ceremonies.

Tatler reported the rowing club president calling the process “welcome drinks” and saying they didn’t do initiations anymore.

But Tatler claim it’s because sports teams don’t want the authorities to get wind of it, and students at Durham have confirmed initiations do still take place.

One incident included freshers dressing up as inmates, being forced onto their hands and knees and made to cram their mouths with tampons.

Naked wrestling and 1,000 pint challenges

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Cardiff Rugby team have hundreds of pints pre poured for them at venues where they hold their socials – and the arrival of the boys is described as a “tsunami” by venue owners. Staff also place buckets on all of the tables as they have come to expect projectile vomiting as a standard element of the night.

One of the challenges members partake in is the “pyramid”, which is usually reserved for birthdays and involves taking a shot, followed by a WKD, a beer and a Guinness, another beer, another WKD and is topped off with a final shot. But the maddest challenge of all is the “1,000 pint challenge”, where the team have to drink 1,000 pints before heading to the SU.

They are naked at every social, and one of their classic naked activities is sumo wrestling in beer. This essentially involves a selection of the guys wrestling each other, naked, whilst being showered by the others in pints.

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Freshers made to crawl on the floor, scantily clad in women’s fancy dress

Warwick University rugby club were given a suspended sentence and made to go to consent classes when they were found guilty of being drunk and disorderly in 2014.

During the initiation, freshers were made to crawl on wet ground, scantily clad in women’s fancy dress.

Following an appeal by the rugby club, they were found guilty of being drunk and disorderly, using abusive language and a failure to follow health and safety regulations.

The club faced a one year ban and closure, and restrictions from SU events.

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Warwick initiations

Guess what’s a shit, and what’s a banana

Also according to Tatler, at Bristol, the rugby team captain did a shit into a bucket of water, and then dropped a peeled banana in too. Freshers were then blindfolded and told to find the banana – in a sick apple bobbing game.

If you flake, you’re fucked

The Times reported that in a Facebook post discussing an initiation ceremony for the rugby team at Arts University Bournemouth, older students threatened first years: “If you flake out, you’re f*****”.

If they didn’t complete the tasks in the ceremony, which are unclear, they wouldn’t be accepted on to the team.

The Arts University told The Times they are in talks with the rugby team about this, and are investigating.

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They had to wear condoms on their feet at training

According to The Times, at Swansea University rugby club, first-years were made to dress up as dogs in their first social this year.

New members whose trainers were “shit” had to wear condoms on their feet at their training sessions.

A disgusting concoction of dog food, anchovies, gold fish and raw eggs

Members of the University of York hockey club were forced to have drinks that had been mixed with dog food and live goldfish.

The SU gave the club a £200 fine after finding out about their ceremony, which was said to be “too shocking to be shown” by the student paper, York Vision.

The paper said they had seen hundreds of photos showing a “disgusting concoction of dog food, anchovies, gold fish and raw eggs blended together into drinks that students were forced to down as quickly as possible.”

It was also reported that a video of the initiation, that has since been taken down, showed students downing drinks “in front of a frenzied crowd”, despite “visible physical discomfort”.

Students were shown throwing up, and having drinks they couldn’t finish thrown over them.

Freshers made to kiss a dead eel

At Exeter in 2014, freshers in the athletics team were made to drink pints out of their shoes and kiss a dead eel.

Have you been in an initiation grimmer than this? Get in touch anonymously by emailing [email protected]

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