Glenn Houlihan and Patrick Isitt
Varsity 2017 has been marred by outbreaks of violence and crowd trouble at the rugby, which has caused the game to be cancelled at half time and bars around campus, including East Slope and Falmer, to be closed early. East Slope has since re-opened, but Falmer remained shut.
Bottles were thrown at the Falmer Sports Complex as tensions flared up during the match, and at least one person has been taken to hospital.
Police were called to deal with the rampant fans.
Spectators have told The Badger that bottles were thrown and a knife was pulled, whilst a player said the atmosphere was too “rowdy” and the game had to be called off for “safety reasons”.
Both the Co-op and the SU Shop were also forced to close temporarily.
Charlotte Eaton, part of Sussex’s women’s rugby team, told The Badger:
“Brighton Uni fans stormed the pitch, so they cancelled the match halfway though. Then the fans were throwing flares at each other and bottles – I nearly got hit by one.”
It is currently unconfirmed whether the individual detained by police was a Sussex student.
The tension has not been limited to the Complex, with one Brighton player temporarily ejected from the men’s basketball match for attempting to start a fight.
Initially the SU’s only response to the violence was this:
This was later followed by a full statement:
“Disruption at today’s Varsity sports matches led to the curtailment of the men’s rugby match and the temporary closure of students’ union outlets.
We are aware of a small number of injuries caused to spectators and send them our best wishes for a speedy recovery.
We condemn violent and intimidating behaviour and will be investigating what happened. We will be working with the police, campus security and the security team we hired for the event.
It is a shame that these actions spoiled a day of great sporting conduct and fair play by the Brighton & Sussex teams and many spectators.
Anyone with any information about what happened or who has been affected by today’s events should contact Adele, Activities Officer – email@example.com”
Adam Tickell tweeted this:
However, a shocked second year spectator said:
“It’s alright for the SU and Tickell to say that they’re ashamed – there was barely any security until well into the match, and there were no barriers blocking off the Brighton fans – only Sussex students .
They easily could have prevented this with better planning. Not to mention, once the match was called off because of fights they could easily have moved people off in smaller groups to make it safer.
Instead all of the SU people left and security just stood around until Brighton fans came over to the Sussex ones (after like 10 minutes when they could easily have been sent off) and started fighting and throwing things again.
There was literally no attempt to stop things until they were in full swing.”
A video taken of the situation:
More updates will be posted as this story unfolds.