Pembroke Rugby Club suspended after misogyny scandal
Charlie Dennis & Tom Ough
The captain of the Pembroke rugby team has stepped down in the wake of the ‘Free Pussy’ scandal, after his team was relegated to Division 3 with immediate effect by the Oxford University Rugby Football Union.
In a meeting last night, the JCR was told that the OURFU had banned the Pembroke team from competing in the first round of the league season. They will be eligible to compete again in sixth week.
In a statement, the OURFU also called for a full re-election of the College Rugby Committee and recommended: “For the remainder of the academic year, the social side of PCRFC [should be] disbanded.”
This revelation comes after a media storm engulfed the college in the wake of the email that encouraged players to “pick” a fresher as a date and to contaminate their drink with “a substance of [their] choice”.
Addressing the JCR, the departing captain stated: “This will be a turning point for the club. It’s highlighted parts of our culture that are completely wrong and just entirely inexcusable.”
Explaining his decision to resign, he stated that he felt that he had become “inextricably linked” to the recent events: “I could have shown greater leadership and better judgement in reacting more quickly to the offensive phrases in the email. I reacted too slowly. In the longer term I will try my hardest to rid PCRFC of any elements of this culture that we find still reside in the club.”
The captain also sought to explain how the team sought to improve: “We are fully engaging in sexual consent and ‘good lad’ workshops – in fact we’ve already got one lined up for this Tuesday, I’m sure there’ll be a really good attendance. These events can’t be seen as a miracle solution […] but they will give us a good base.”
He added: “As a self-imposed measure, there will be no socials or crew dates.”
The former captain also stressed that this in no way represented him “running away from the problem”: “I’m still totally committed to helping other, very capable senior members in our combined effort to resolve these issues we are facing and turn around the image and the club culture.”
Sanctions imposed by OURFU have so far been directed at the Pembroke team as whole, while disciplinary actions against individuals are being conducted by the College. However, the organisation emphasised: “OURFU reserve the right to take further action once the college has concluded its disciplinary procedure.”
A Pembroke JCR statement issued earlier in the week said: “We fear that the rugby committee do not seem to have grasped the seriousness of their offences, and will shrug this off as an overreaction of a female-led JCR committee. However, it is to the great credit of Pembroke that so many people have found the email completely unacceptable, and have spoken against it.”
With the theme of the crew-date set as “villains”, PCRFC members were told to “be as clandestine as possible in [their] deed”. One student was asked to bring a positive pregnancy test. The outcry that followed the release of the email provoked the cancellation of the crew-date and continued scrutiny of other events involving Pembroke sports teams.