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Gower-Strand occupation cancelled

The Gower-Strand Occupation, a rugby match set up by a group of UCL alumni to replace the former London Varsity, has been cancelled due to the teams of KCL and UCL pulling out.

It is understood that the teams were under pressure from their respective unions and allegedly felt threatened with disaffiliation.

All students who have paid for tickets have been assured that they will be refunded, minus the £1 booking fee.

A statement was released by Burlington Bertie, the Facebook persona behind the event, on Wednesday night:


“Dear Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I have to make an announcement.

As my mother once said to me, “Never try and do anything special or you will get your fingers burnt, Bertie.” Regrettably, I never listened to my mother and I have to announce that this event is now CANCELLED.

Firstly, women from the Bloomsbury area were advised by an institution they are linked to that there may be ramifications if they were to play. The women of The Strand were disgruntled by this. This was a shame because I had wanted this to be an all-inclusive event.

Then, unfortunately, the men of The Strand had to withdraw as well because of a perception that this match was ‘Varsity’ (which it clearly was not) by an institution with which their players are affiliated. This has forced me to cancel the event.

I am really terribly sorry that I haven’t managed to pull this together. It would have been great for those associated and, more importantly, bloody funsies. Not to rub salt in the wound, but I had organised graduate recruiters (e.g. Mercer) to get involved, since I know how hard jobs are to come by these days. I had also organised £1 from every ticket to go to ‘V-day’ a charity opposing violence against women. Hopefully, this is a proactive precedent that future events of a similar nature will follow.

I would like to think there are some positives to be taken from this though. I have set a model down for what I think is a great way to run an event like this and I would be willing to work with whoever runs a similar event in the future. Moreover, you have all been overwhelmingly supportive and shown a real pride and passion for rugby and university life that I think London students can be pleased with. Selling nearly 300 tickets for a non-affiliated event in under a fortnight is phenomenal and I would like to apologise for not being able to set this up.

Now, I am aware you are mainly students and will be worried about what you have spent on tickets. The ticket website will refund your money, do not worry. However, this will be net of the £1 booking fee. I hope this does not cause too much distress.

Finally, thank you all. I’m sorry if you feel that I wasted your time. This could have been glorious. If you feel let down, I hope that you understand that nobody is more upset than me.

Forever and always your man,

Burlington Bertie”


You can follow Ben Jackson on Twitter at @bjacksonuk


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