On Wednesday 3rd October, it was revealed that Imperial’s Men’s Rugby Club (ICURFC) had lost its appeal against the sanctions following its February “Fiesta Dash” event. The sanctions, which included all four ACC Rugby teams being banned from competing in their first three league (non-cup) matches of the 2018-19 academic year, will be upheld following the failed appeal.
As reported by Felix in June, the ‘Mexican-themed’ “Fiesta Dash” event, which was held on 7th February, quickly spiralled out of control and resulted in public nudity and indecent exposure. The club-sanctioned event was organised by club social secretaries and approved by the club captain. Video and photographic evidence which had been shared in a WhatsApp group chat were published in The Sun in early June. The story was then quickly picked up by a number of other national newspapers, including The Telegraph and Independent.
Students were captured revealing themselves in front of the Cenotaph, climbing naked into fountains in Trafalgar Square, and making ‘jokes’ about Mexicans and disabled people. Photographs of the students posing naked in front of the Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square, covering their genitals with sombreros also emerged, along with other pictures of the team members exposing themselves outside the Royal Albert Hall and downing bottles of wine.
At the time, both the College and Imperial College Union described the students’ behaviour as “completely unacceptable” and the team was suspended, pending further investigation. The subsequent hearing was held on 20th June and, in addition to the aforementioned punishment, further sanctions were also levelled against the club. These include removal of tour privileges until 31st July 2020 and revocation of the committee and club captain’s authority to make independent financial and social event decisions. All such decisions must be ratified by the Union President until 31st July 2020.
In a statement given to Felix in June on behalf of the Union and the College, a representative said: “This alleged behaviour goes against the values and expectations of our student and staff community and is completely unacceptable.”
The rugby club is “deemed to have brought the Union into disrepute” and further videos showed team members encouraging eachother to defecate in public. One student can be seen exposing himself on a public tube carriage, whilst other videos show the students making offensive comments: in one, a student in a sombrero and poncho clambers over a high wall, while another shouts “typical immigrant”. Another video allegedly shows a student trying to dance with a disabled girl in a nightclub; a comment on the WhatsApp group reads: “Poor girl can’t even walk away.”
It should be noted that the Rugby club was cooperative during the investigation. In June, a representative of ICURFC told Felix: “The rugby club are deeply regretful about the behaviour which occurred in this incident and how it reflects on the university and members of the club.” The event organisers have been expelled from representing the College in any sporting competition, for any club with BUCS membership until 31st July 2019, while the other individuals involved have been suspended from representing the College, in any sporting competition, for any club with BUCS membership, until 31st July 2019. Any breach of the sanctions before 31st July 2020 will automatically incur a complete two-year competitive ban for the entire club, if the incident in question is reported to the Union by the club. If the incident in question is reported by anyone other than ACC Rugby, the club will incur a four year complete suspension.
It is telling that, despite the event occurring in February, nobody in the club thought it important to call out this behaviour; this suggests the need for cultural reform within ACC Rugby.