The Women’s Rugby match between the Sussex and Brighton teams has been cancelled amid safety concerns for players.
The Varsity series between the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton has returned for the first time since the event was cancelled after the 2017 Varsity series.
Safety concerns arose as Sussex Women’s Rugby team is currently in a higher league than Brighton’s team. The match was scheduled to take place on Wednesday 20th March, the same day as the Rugby Men Varsity Series 2019 but is not going ahead.
Sarah Hall, Sports and Societies Development Manager from the University of Sussex Students’ Union told The Badger “The rugby women’s fixture that was due to take place at Varsity 2019 has been cancelled due to the large difference in standard between the two teams. Because of this difference in playing level the game would be too dangerous to play for both Sussex and Brighton players.
“Obviously the Sussex women’s Rugby club were up for playing the fixture and are gutted this has happened, however they do appreciate the reasoning behind the decision and understand that safety has to come first when playing such a high contact game.
“The two clubs hope to work closely together with the support of both Universities sports departments and Rugby Cluster Officer (Harry Short) to look at doing some summer 7s events and even a beach tournament.”
Carolina Grincho, President of Sussex Women’s Rugby team, told The Badger “We were obviously very excited to get Varsity back, we have worked extremely hard all season and it was meant to be the best match yet.
“We are extremely disappointed, especially because the league difference has always been the same, Brighton and Sussex have never been in the same league.
“One of our coaches (Hannah) is an old alumni and she said that Brighton used to play us and win for years, but we still played them despite them being better than us.
“It’s just a shame that they don’t have the same spirit! But we understand that if they think the game will be unsafe that we shouldn’t put players at risk.”
Varsity between the University of Sussex and University of Brighton did not occur during the 2018 academic year. This was because of the clashes and violence that occurred between supporters of the two sides during the 2017 Varsity series.
Interestingly, there has been noticeably little advertisements regarding Varsity across the University of Sussex campus and its social media channels. The 2019 Varsity series has also been split across the month of March, rather than all matches and games happening on the same day.
At the time of the 2017 Varsity series, the Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sussex, Adam Tickell, made a joint statement with the Vice-Chancellor at the University of Brighton, Debra Humphris. Speaking on behalf of both universities, the two Vice-Chancellors stated that “the scenes witnessed today at the annual Varsity sports day were shocking and disgraceful… we unreservedly condemn the behaviour.”
The Varsity 2019 Series continues throughout March. There are tickets available on the Student Union website, you can also see the full schedule under the ‘What’s On’ tab.
Image credit: Danielle Ball