& opinion


The experience of the Sussex Womens Hockey team last week has cast a shadow over the British Universities Sports Association (BUSA), throwing into question the regulations and organisation of the league system. In a week where more Sussex matches were postponed than played, the story of the hockey team’s match against Imperial University illuminates the problems.

The Sussex Womens Hockey team arrived an hour early at Hatton Cross, home of Imperial University, keen to warm up and discuss tactics. An hour of practicing short and defensive corners came and went, still with no sign of the opposition.

Eventually, the Imperial coach casually rolled up forty minutes late, and seemed surprised to find an irate Sussex hockey team. Since another match was scheduled to be played at 2:30pm on the same pitch, it would have been impossible to play a full game. All that was left was the small matter of the three points.

According to BUSA regulations, if any team arrives over half an hour late the opposition, at their discretion, can claim three points. Having previously travelled to Imperial to find the pitch waterlogged, and with a full schedule this term, our girls felt totally justified in claiming a Sussex walkover and the three points. The captain of Imperial and the umpire both reluctantly agreed.

As a sporting gesture it was decided that a short friendly match would be played, and thus neither of the Universities’ journeys would be totally in vain. However, in a shocking display of unprofessionalism, members of the Imperial Mens Hockey team halted the game after just ten minutes. Imperial told Sussex that they had spoken to their union, and because they had been delayed by an accident on the M4, the three points could not be claimed. This ran contrary to the information Sussex had received from our union and the UCL male hockey player who had been consulted as an arbitrary opinion.

Outraged at the farce but still maintaining their dignity, the Sussex girls gracefully departed the astro-turf for the long trip home after Imperial had refused to continue playing the friendly, opting instead to appeal to BUSA to decide the outcome.

Upon return the Sussex captains spoke with Tamsin Wicks about the incident. She and other members of the Sports Union fully supported the players and felt that BUSA might also take a sympathetic view of the affair.

Reports from both Universities were faxed to BUSA, but the decision was immensely disappointing for the Sussex team. It stated that the match would be replayed at Sussex this coming Friday or Saturday. All support will be welcome in what is sure to be a bad blooded and competitive match.

The bizarre nature of this incident should not hide the fact that practical problems have appeared elsewhere in the BUSA leagues. Of the six matches ‘played’ last week only two were not 0-0 walkovers. Another four scheduled matches were postponed. So far this season the division in which the Sussex Womens Rugby team plays has had three walkovers, and on one of these occasions the referee didn’t even turn up. This week’s fixtures section lists sixteen matches to be played. But come next Wednesday, how many of these games will actually have been played?

We are not kidding ourselves here, this is not the Premiership. Things do not always run as planned. The marvellous victory by Sussex over Brighton in the recent womens’ basketball match underlines how successful the BUSA system can be. The effort required to organise national university competitions is immense. A lot of blame can be placed upon the commitment of the universities. But clearer regulations and a more organised programme of matches, whereby the demands of the competing teams are compromised, will ensure a better league system. Otherwise you might be able to win a league without playing a single match.

Contrary to the information reported in last week’s badger sports section, the Sussex Womens Rugby team dates back to much further than two years ago. We apologise to all current and ex-Sussex students who were involved in the team.