By George Sims and Max Kendix
All Floodlit Cup rugby matches this season involving Hatfield or Castle will be played without spectators after ‘unacceptable’ behavior in the Castle A vs Hatfield B game on the 28thand January.
It is understood the game, which already comes with a long-running rivalry, coincided with Hatfield’s ‘Old Boys Weekend’, where former members of the rugby club return to Durham for the weekend. end.
A viewer described the scenes to Palatinate: “At the start of the game there was a lot of chanting and a lot of light insults thrown around by the Hatfield and Castle fans. However, in the second half the atmosphere became louder and the chanting much more personal .
“It wasn’t long before a few people started to invade the pitch, with a Hatfielder trying to poke the Castle winger’s ass with a corner flag he had stolen. It certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that the cordons were drunk Castle students who were definitely in no position to stop people from stepping onto the grounds.
“The behavior continued to escalate on both sides. Every time there was a line out, prostitutes got tinnies thrown at their heads.
After the match, the spotlights were turned off and several head-to-head confrontations took place. While the two teams were shaking hands, a few “old boys” from Hatfield approached a Castle student in an attempt to get their hands on his beer helmet. The student was badly scratched on the neck and bruised in the eye.
Palatinate understands punches were thrown and some fans urinated on the stands at Maiden Castle. Sources say insults and ‘nasty chanting’ came from both sides, but the violence was caused mostly by Hatfield elders.
A Durham University spokesperson said: ‘We believe everyone has the right to work, study and enjoy their leisure time in a respectful environment. When behavior falls below the standard we expect, we take quick and decisive action. »
The Durham team added that “the ban was set against a clear set of expectations for crowd behavior and there were several breaches on this occasion.”
In an email to Hatfield students this morning, College Vice Master James Armitage said: ‘We ask students to respect this decision and not attend games. Any attempt to do so would constitute non-academic misconduct and could result in additional sanctions for the HCRFC and a spectator ban for other sports.
“We hope our players on the pitch can compete successfully. The best way to support them is to allow them to play without being distracted by anything that could lead to further penalties.”
Castle students also received an email condemning the “unacceptable” scenes: “Please be aware that for all sports matches, fans must remain in designated seating areas behind the touchline fence, alcohol in glass containers is not allowed, waste must be disposed of properly, and urinating in public is absolutely inappropriate”.
But representatives of the University College Rugby Football Club (UCRFC) said Palatinate that the ban was “disproportionate” and that the events were out of proportion: “Although we ultimately took some responsibility for the events, it seems to me that the biggest problem was the lack of foresight of the Maiden Castle facilities in a fierce derby. deeming it unnecessary to have security at games with crowds of 400 people.
“Therefore, we believe it is unfair to the players and fans, who are deeply disappointed, to have taken full responsibility when Maiden Castle’s incompetence clearly influenced the events that transpired. Sober or not, two student stewards couldn’t have prevented some of the Old Boys’ crowd behavior.
The Durham team was keen to add that “these events have generally been well organized and provide the students attending with an incredibly unique experience. There is not another university in the UK that enjoys such support from spectators and it is something that we would absolutely want to protect and ensure that we can help colleges strike the right balance.
Image: Thomas Tomlinson