September 22, 2021, 13:11

Steve Grainger says the RFU will tackle ‘stomach-churning’ initiation ceremonies

Steve Grainger says the RFU will tackle ‘stomach-churning’ initiation ceremonies

RFU Rugby Development Director Steve Grainger says they are keen to make sure student initiations don't get out of hand

RFU Rugby Development Director Steve Grainger says there is “no place” for the student initiation ceremonies which are reportedly rife within university rugby.

Grainger told Sky Sports News that the RFU are determined to address the problem and will have no qualms about taking any action necessary.

The Times reported on Wednesday morning that “initiation ceremonies” and “sickening examples of enforced behaviour” have led to a drop-off in rugby union participation.

Grainger says that the issue is being taken seriously by the RFU.

“We have been alarmed by the concerns that we have heard,” said Grainger.

“We need to look into it further and we need to understand it further.

“The university game is really important to us, and hanging on to the players as they go into university, and encouraging more people to play in university, is a core part of our new strategic plan, and we will be looking very seriously at this.

“Some of the things you hear, quite frankly, are stomach-churning and not the sort of thing that you want.

“There is no place for it in our game, we pride ourselves on the core values of the sport, and we will do everything we can to make sure these things aren’t part of the university game.”

Asked what steps the RFU could take, Grainger added: “Education and awareness – we need to get through to people that this is unacceptable, in society and certainly in rugby.

“Secondly, when we do become aware of it, we will deal with it through the disciplinary process and won’t be afraid to take action against people that are instigating it.”

Former England World Cup winner Will Greenwood agrees that initiations may now be going too far.

He told Sky Sports News: “I was at Durham University in the early 90s. We would have a drink that would be consumed after the game that was not necessarily just lager, maybe a boiled egg and some nuts, throw in some Baileys.

“It has always been part of rugby culture, that alcohol is associated with it, but slowly things that aren’t respectable in a modern society are being looked at, and I think most clubs and universities are aware that is an issue.

“Do I think rugby and a pint go hand and hand? Yes. Do I think, on the back of this, we need to make sure lines aren’t being crossed? Absolutely.

“I have children who want to go into rugby and I don’t want them running down the street naked with a bin on their head. If that’s what you do!”

Will Greenwood tells us about his initiation experiences and why it is time to change.

British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) released a statement following the report which read in part: “With regard to the article in The Times today, BUCS is aware of the challenge faced by member institutions and students’ unions regarding initiations, often linked to excessive alcohol consumption and anti-social behaviour.

“BUCS has a clear policy condemning such behaviour and recommending all those involved in the delivery of sport and associated social events take a responsible approach to the consumption of alcohol.

“Furthermore, BUCS requires all member institutions to have a clear code of conduct in relation to initiations and alcohol abuse in sport and relies on its members to enforce this internally.”


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