Changes made to Varsity series after disturbances at Ashton Gate


Following major crowd disturbances at the Bristol vs UWE Varsity rugby match at Ashton Gate in March of this year, there will be no large-scale ticketed or spectator Varsity events this year.

It has previously been reported by other outlets that Varsity rugby matches have been banned by UWE and UoB for two years. However, Sport, Exercise and Health (SEH) at Bristol have told Epigram that the two-year 'ban' is specifically on large-scale spectator events, as Varsity organisers recognise that last year's troubles began in the crowds rather than the players.

This is also related to Varsity's shift from spectating to participation, and its new format as a Whilst some events still allow spectators, such as Varsity Darts last month, events will not take place in large stadiums or any other venues with high capacity.

A rugby match between Bristol and UWE may still take place as long as it behind closed doors, although it has not yet been decided whether this will go ahead.

The Varsity rugby match in March 2017 that prompted these changes was marred by violence and controversy. Many students reproted being punched and chant sheets, created by UWE students, were passes around at the game.`

The sheet included chants such as 'Bristol girls make more noise when they're shagging UWE boys, with a flip flap fanny whack, give the whore a bone, Bristol girls go running home' and caused uproar amongst students due to their offensive nature.

In response, Bristol's Intersectional Feminist Society branded the chants 'absolutely disgusting', continuing: 'the fact that students could feel comfortable enough with those words to sign their names shows how misogyny continues to be pervasive in student sporting communities and lad culture.'

Students from the University of Bristol are also said to have created similar chants.

Eyewitness said that the atmosphere gradually heated up following Bristol's wins for both the men's and women's rugby matches. Officials at Ashton Gate decided to close bars and food outlets early and staff were reported to have been threatened in their attmpts to separate UWE and UoB students.

Epigram understands that neither UWE or the University of Bristol have confirmed if or how many students have been expelled as a result of the disruption, although confirm in a joint statement that those involved have been 'subject to disciplinary proceedings'.

A joint statement from the University of Bristol and UWE states: 'An inquiry carried out by the Varsity Board, which is joint board with representatives from UWE Bristol and the University of Bristol, following the Bristol Varsity Rugby match on March 30, 2017, has now concluded following a thorough and detailed process.

'Those students being identified as being involved have been the subject to disciplinary proceedings. They have also been subject to sanctions from the Students’ Union and required to write letters of apology to those affected by their behaviour.'

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Alex Boulton

Editor in Chief 2017-18, Online Style Editor 2016-17. History student.