It was around three o’clock Thursday morning when the peaceful Goodricke air was shattered by the sound of “I’m Henry the eighth I am, I am”, sung just out of key and with volume enough to crack the concrete and scare every duck on campus. It was, of course, the regular and familiar sound of the rugby players returning home from the weekly post-game Ziggy’s social and bar crawl. Our block’s own rugby chap was himself in fine vocal form; he managed -if memory serves- nearly twelve renditions of “Glory glory hallelujah,” each with a different sexual nuance, before his performance was tragically cut short by an inconsiderately-placed floor.
Oh what depths of depravity the British binge-drinking culture has sunk to, I hear the more hysterical readers amongst you cry. It wasn’t like that in my day, I hear the elder readers amongst you answer.
Sorry, oldies. In fact, it was exactly like that in your day. Forty years ago, the rugby team had just the same reputation for drunken, disorderly fun. An edition of this paper, dated the 23rd November 1967, featured an interview with the outraged provost of Derwent college, in which he describes how following a rugby match the players “made the bar uninhabitable because of the mess and rowdy singing.” Not only that, but the players also got into the toilets in Derwent, where they “ripped off a £10 towel dispenser and removed a bowl of flowers and several scarves.” We can only imagine why. The Professor’s most biting accusation, one that I suspect may affront the current rugby team as much as it did 1967’s, was “It seems that the rugger teams can’t drink for half an hour without getting p*****d!” For this antisocial behaviour, Derwent college stripped the rugby team of its meal-credit.
It seems as if being accused of disorderlyness was par for the course, but then just as now, calling the captain of the rugby team a lightweight was absolutely not on. In the following edition, on the 9th of December 1967, there was an answering letter from David Jenkins, the president of the rugby club. “If Professor Ree,” he seethes, “would care to get in touch with the landlady of the Charles XII” – the good old Charles was just as popular then as today – “he will learn that on the very many occasions the rugby club has used her premises there has never been rowdyism and drunkenness.” I should bloody well think so too.