“The BUCS Proposal” is a term that has been thrown around so much recently, with most people having little or warped knowledge of what it actually is. When BUCS (British University and College Sport) was founded there were five universities whose current medical schools were entered separately. When these establishments were merged, the institutions continued to compete separately, giving medics the ability to compete for their university and/or their medical school, and retaining the heritage of competition between .
About a year ago, BUCS decided that they were not satisfied with this situation any longer and they gave us a decision to make between two options. Option 1 would mean that both QM and BL will officially compete under the name Queen Mary University of London, with ‘(Barts and the London SMD)’ suffix for medic teams. Option 2 would ensure that QM and BL become completely separated in all sports which BUCS regulate.
It is clear that neither option is suitable; the fact that we are being forced to make this decision reflects the obvious lack of consideration that BUCS has shown. Mark Gregory, and Club Sport have presented them with a more appropriate third option. Andy Smith, VP Bart’s and the London, and Mark Gregory, BL Sports Officer, then put forward a motion in the Annual Members Meeting to finalise a decision.
There are minor problems in choosing Option 1: teams would have to undergo re-ranking, for example in Men’s Rugby, BL 1st team would become QM (BL) 1st team, and QM 1st XV would become QM 2nd XV, but I believe the primary issue is not one of putting QM players out of place, but rather not wanting to play under the QM banner. Option 2 does not hurt this historical pride, but it does destroy teams. As the VP of QMBL Women’s Rugby I have worked alongside the founder, Rokayah Abdulmajed, to create a cohesive, functioning and competitive team which has been entered into the BUCS league for the first time in the 2012/13 season. I have seen and been part of the monumental effort that has been put into the club to bring it up to the standard it is now, all of which has been supported immensely by Rory Moore.
To now be told that two years of work could be cast aside to assuage the potentially bruised pride of some BL students is rather a bitter pill to swallow. I can appreciate that BL are very passionate about their history but one option damages pride and the other destroys clubs, forces players to leave their teams, and massively reduces the amount and variety of sports available to both QM and BL students. Limiting participation has never and will never be the way forward for sports excellence and choosing an option that stops people doing what they love shows an incredible lack of consideration.
Years of solid work could be cast aside to assuage the potentially bruised pride of some BL studentsAlthough the student vote at the AMM went in favour of Option 2, it was hugely biased by a disproportionate number of BL students, summoned by Andy Smith in a scaremongering email entitled “BUCS goes to vote!”. The message read that the vote “is imperative for the future of BL sport and BLSA as a whole” and “this issue runs a lot deeper than just sport”. I have spoken to BL students who were under the impression that they would have to entirely mix with QM teams, being forced to fight for places, which is entirely untrue. The board of trustees will make the final decision, and although they may choose to do so, they are not obliged to follow the vote.
For women playing sports such as rugby, football and basketball, it is substantially more difficult for us to field teams than it is for men, and even more so for minority sports such as fencing, volleyball and martial arts. For BL players, a split would mean people being unable to participate in the sport of their choosing, regardless of their passion or talent. And for QM clubs, having the option to seek players from BL is invaluable, and our proud BL members are some of our most committed and talented participants, not to mention some of our greatest friends.