Police called after ‘riot’ at university sports event

The rugby match between Sussex and Brighton universities ended in violence (Photograph: Daniel Green) SUS-170320-120707001

The rugby match between Sussex and Brighton universities ended in violence (Photograph: Daniel Green) SUS-170320-120707001

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Fighting and flag-burning broke out at an annual university sporting event on Sunday (March 19) with matches cancelled after a number of people were injured and a naked spectator ran across the pitch.

The Brighton and Sussex Varsity event - a day of sports between the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex - saw police called to Sussex’s Falmer campus as initial tensions became increasingly violent.

One Brighton student tweeted: “Why has Brighton and Sussex Varsity ended in a full on riot, burning of uni flags, flares and a streaker?”

Spectators described how Sussex students threw bottles at Brighton fans making their way to the venue. Brighton fans burned Sussex banners as Sussex students chanted insults which escalated into Brighton fans (who were not seated behind barriers) storming the pitch.

Sussex student Daniel Green, who witnessed the event, said: “I have studied at Sussex for four years and have never seen the rivalry escalate to such an extent.”

A statement from Sussex students’ union said that misogynistic, homophobic and racist language were also among the examples of dangerous behaviour which took place. The union, along with the vice-chancellors of both universities condemned the actions.

Daniel Green added: “I am angry and disappointed that a day that was meant to be enjoyable has been ruined by a bunch of hooligans.”

Vice-chancellors Adam Tickell (University of Sussex) and Debra Humphris (University of Brighton) said: “The scenes witnessed today at the annual Varsity sports day were shocking and disgraceful.

“We unreservedly condemn the behaviour.”

Police are examining CCTV of the incident and want to speak to anyone who was injured, witnessed the fighting or has any information. Report online quoting serial 832 of 19/03 or call 101.