Meet the Cambridge rugby lads running to fight racism

‘Posting an Instagram story or signing a couple of petitions is not enough’


The Pembroke and Girton Rugby Club, lovingly known as Pirton, is a lively mixture of two Cambridge colleges and even boasts a DoS among its ranks. This year has been a great success for the club, as it moved into the first division after three consecutive promotions. Now they have set their sights on the new challenge of running 400 miles, sometimes even in silly fancy dress, to raise money for Show Racism the Red Card.

Pirton Rugby Club 2020 (Photo Credit: Ed Plaut)

The charity runs workshops in the sporting community to educate people about race and racism within the sector, and it uses the enormous popularity of sport to tackle racism head-on. Tom Allen, Girton captain, sees rugby as one area where racism is unfortunately all too prevalent: “Many of the boys at the club witnessed examples before coming to uni of the events that the charity works to prevent.” As a non-sporty Girtonian, who was utterly confused at the one rugby match I attended, I find it shocking that even at secondary school level racial aggression is so evident and widespread within the sport. It shows that this fundraiser is fundamental not only for donations but for the awareness that it raises within the Cambridge community. Hopefully, this will filter into primary and secondary education along with increased understanding.

This fundraiser coincides with the BLM movement sweeping across the world, and despite our social separation due to Covid-19, people have been coming together to support charities, businesses, and literature associated with the campaign. As part of a wider global movement, this fundraiser sees students of all ethnicities working together to promote awareness, and Max Murphy, Pembroke Captain and organiser of the event, feels that this active participation is vital. He says that “posting an Instagram story or signing a couple of petitions is not enough. Racism is by no means fixed by raising a bit of money, it’s too ingrained in our society for that, but I think it’s a good place to start.”

Tom Allen sporting a very flattering speedo in the publicity video (Photo credit: Josh Tyler)

Max is also eager to change the perception of Cambridge rugby. The term “rugby lad” is often only seen as synonymous with the drinking and partying culture of university sport, so to see a college rugby club supporting a worthy cause and actively fighting for change in their sport is especially heartwarming. He told the Cambridge Tab: “I want to make sure Pirton is as inclusive and tolerant as any sports team should be in 2020. We want to encourage other Cambridge teams to do the same and set an example to students across the country.” Other Cambridge sports clubs joining the fight against racism in such a fun and interactive way would only increase awareness and financial support, which charities like Show Racism the Red Card would use to greatly benefit the sporting community.

Toby Green appears to have forgotten his costume altogether… (Photo credit: Josh Tyler)

Tom has promised that if the club is still receiving donations when they hit 400 miles, ‘we will just keep running.’

Now is your chance to donate and keep these boys in shape for Michaelmas term, while helping in the fight against one of the biggest issues in our society. Check out their Facebook page here.

(Photo credits: Josh Tyler, Ed Plaut)