At recent college qualifiers the safety and system of college and University rugby was brought into question by a serious injury at 22 Acres. James player Alex Bowen broke his leg on pitch 1 in the opening semi-final against Halifax on Sunday, breaking his fibular and tibular as well as snapping two ligaments. The incident brought to light growing concerns of the standard of the pitches as well as the lack of priority given to college sports in comparison with that of the University teams.
The condition of the pitches also affected Women’s Touch Rugby who were able, interestingly, to play at 22 Acres the day before on the Saturday despite it being worse weather. Consequently there was a smaller turnout and games were shortened but eventually it was reported by Hema Trivedi of University Rugby “that the tournament would be reorganised at another date with better, more playable conditions”.
It is further questionable therefore why a pitch inspection was not done earlier by University grounds staff considering that similar concerns had already been raised the day before. Instead, qualifiers were allowed to continue and it wasn’t until it was too late and after a player was seriously injured that any weight was given to consideration of the matter. Arguably, it wasn’t until college sport threatened to interfere with University Rugby’s pitch 1, as the game was forced off pitch 2 to finish on pitch 1, that the concern gained any real attention.
Nouse spoke to Bowen and he expressed his frustration as to why the game hadn’t been called off as the University “won’t own up to the injury being partially their fault due to the pitch”. Further to this Bowen was also left to wait for “nearly two hours on the muddy path until the ambulance arrived”.
This is because not only did the Sports Centre fail to have the “adequate equipment to take care of an injured player”, failing to even have a stretcher. This incident adds serious doubt to the way college sport is organised and the safety of 22 Acres and it will be interesting to see if this will have any affect on Varsity proceedings.