Rugby Union Club back in action

At the end of January Newcastle University Rugby Union Club was suspended by the Athletic Union (AU) at Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU).

The suspension occurred as a result of several complaints being made by local residents following a large party hosted by the club in Jesmond. In addition to the club’s suspension, all sportsmen involved were issued with an individual disciplinary fine.

The decision to suspend the club was passed by the AU Executive and the Disciplinary Panel, which includes academic and administrative staff and three students appointed by the Students’ Union.

Matthews explained that sanctions could be imposed by the AU when “the duty of care is broken”.

She said: “It would be the same with any sports club or society”.

All decisions made by the AU have been supported by the University who are keen to protect their renowned reputation for the sport of rugby in the high education sector.

The suspension was lifted on February 6 after the club complied with the newly made regulations decided by the AU. These regulations includes the removal of the central committee members who were in office when the party took place. Sophie Matthews, AU Officer said: “I am feeling pretty confident that they’ve put a lot of effort to try and regain themselves. They’ve created the welfare code of conduct; they’ve elected the welfare officer. They have been working really hard to get back on track.”

The party that provoked the initial ban was thrown on Devonshire Road, Jesmond, on November 2. It is thought that the party was in celebration of a run of victories. On November 2, the Rugby Union Club tweeted: “Huge day for the club with 1s, 2s & 4s all winning at home. Big wins call for some mild celebration…”It has been reported that Police were called after noise complaints were made and bins were pushed over, with vomit on the street.

Commenting on the incident, NUSU President, Jack Taylor, said: “Whilst it was a shame to see the rugby club suspended following an antisocial behaviour incident, it was fantastic how quickly and efficiently they responded to our recommendations to ensure they were back playing as soon as possible. With the new measures in place I sincerely hope that similar situations can be avoided in the future.”

Although the initial suspension has been lifted, the club will remain on a probation period for 12 months.

All students breaching Newcastle University’s code of conduct face the disciplinary procedures. At the University, Anti-Social Behaviour and noise disturbances are dealt according to the Student Disciplinary Procedure.

In accordance to the Student Disciplinary Procedure, reports that do not involve external services, such as Northumbria Police or Newcastle City Council, tend to lead to an issued caution, which is only a cautionary advice. However, if reports are made to either the Police or the Council, the whole household in question usually receives a warning and an individual monetary disciplinary fine of £30 each.

Furthermore, a second report or an incident involving multiple complaints from different parties might result in a final written warning and an individual fine of up to £200.

Any further reports are likely to be referred to a Student Disciplinary Committee. The Student Disciplinary Committee are able to impose sanctions that could include: a compensation payment for the direct cost of reparations to the property, and suspension or expulsion from the University.

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