Rugby culture at university is renowned for brutal initiations and crazy social events. At every university around the country people have heard stomach wrenching horror stories of rugby initiations, and what freshers go through to become one of the team.
Liam Parsons, a third year criminology student the vice captain for the University of Roehampton firsts, told Voice of London Sport: “I feel everyone thinks that rugby initiations are the worst thing, I always have people come up to me and say I want to play but aren’t the initiations meant to be horrible? Which just isn’t true, initiations are one of the best nights at university.”
The Times‘ investigation into rugby initiations fuelled the fire. Releasing gruesome stories about events that happened at the University of Loughborough and University of Manchester. Further backing up the point that rugby initiations are just not worth going through.
It’s clear to see Parsons’ viewpoint about the situation. For someone who went through the process to someone who helps create the tasks; he is a big advocate for the initiations: “We have a rugby committee where we decide what’s going to happen. We have a tradition where we carry on the same activities year after year. A typical initiation is 4 or 5 activities that take place throughout the evening, mostly consisting of alcohol for example boat races or drinking competitions.”
Tradition is a huge part of why these events still take place, it wouldn’t be a university sports team without an initiation: “They [initiations] are banned at every university, so we have to call it welcome drinks now, the university know this goes on but it is frowned upon. As a vice captain I have to attend meetings beforehand to make welcome drinks welcoming.”
The initiations kick off with the freshers “downing a bottle of red wine”, which can be an overwhelming task in itself, but Parsons was quick to reassure that not being able to participate isn’t the be all and end all of a university rugby career: “Everyone is welcome at this university, some other universities do not let the player have a club tie if they don’t complete initiations but for us it’s a bit of fun. We want to make sure everyone understands that. Therefore they are more likely to get involved.”
A huge argument is that they are not even necessary. The rugby team would still operate without these initiations but Parsons opposes this view: “The team ethos in any rugby team is always high, it’s higher than any other university team, and of course initiations and socials really help that.” When asked about if they should remain banned he was quick to reply. “I don’t think they should be banned, at the end of the day it is one of the best nights I’ve ever had at university and after they are done everyone feels a lot closer and maybe more part of the team now they have been initiated”
The stories that people can’t play in the team if you don’t take part in these seems to be more of a myth than a reality. The University of Roehampton have a strong rugby team and have always have been known for their sporting glory. It’s clear to see that no matter the opinion of initiations, they do help in bonding the team which, in rugby as much as any sport, is the first cog in the successful sporting machine.
Words: Kieran Soutter | Subbing: Asllan Gecaj