Police are investigating after a brawl broke out at a rugby match between two universities. Bottles were thrown among the crowds in scenes condemned as “shocking and disgraceful” by the two institutions.
Numerous people were injured during the disturbances at the annual fixture between the universities of Sussex and Brighton in Falmer, East Sussex, on Sunday, which led to the match being cancelled.
“The behaviour included misogynistic, homophobic and racist language,” said the University of Sussex students’ union in a statement released after the violence flared up.
There were reports that students from Sussex taunted their Brighton counterparts with jibes such as “your dad works for my dad”, though the reports could not be independently confirmed.
Other reports said that one person threatened another with a knife as tensions between the two institutions boiled over. Police said a 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession of a bladed or pointed article and released pending further investigation.
In a joint statement, the two universities said: “The scenes witnessed today at the annual varsity sports day were shocking and disgraceful. A full investigation has been launched into events and any students identified as having participated in the disorder will face serious consequences under our codes of discipline. We unreservedly condemn the behaviour.”
They added that the violence had put the future of the annual fixtures under threat.
In their statement, Sussex university students’ union said: “It is a shame that these actions spoiled a day of great sporting conduct and fair play by the Brighton and Sussex teams and many spectators … The dangerous and disrespectful conduct of a small number of spectators endangered other spectators, staff and players.” Some students had to be taken to hospital “as a precautionary measure”, the union’s spokeswoman said.
Their counterparts at Brighton students’ union also condemned the violence, adding that it wished those injured a speedy recovery.
A statement from Sussex police read: “Police were called to a report of a large fight that had broken out among spectators at a varsity rugby match at Falmer on Sunday.
“There were reports of bottles being thrown at the match between Sussex and Brighton universities and a number of people being injured.
“Police are examining CCTV of the incident and want to speak to anyone who was injured or who may have witnessed or have information about the incident.
“A 19-year-old man from Falmer was arrested at the scene on suspicion of possession of a bladed or pointed article in a public place. He was dearrested for inquiries to be progressed.”