ENGLISH rugby is being thrown into crisis by vile initiation ceremonies and the RFU is worried it is leading to thousands of dropouts from the sport.
Chiefs at Twickenham HQ are reportedly ready to look into a crackdown on the long-held practice, where potential players are forced to rub chilli powder on their genitals and perform a bizarre “human centipede” where players are forced to stick their thumbs up others’ backsides.
One ceremony forced players were forced to fish dead RATS out of buckets of cider with their mouths and another saw freshers have vomit thrown over them.
According to The Times, it has led to up t0 10,000 players leaving the sport, many at the age between leaving school and joining university.
The RFU is actively trying to reduce than number by at least half, but will find it difficult to cut out initiations altogether.
Rugby’s drinking culture is well documented, with even professional players still used to going for a beer after club and international matches.
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But combined with the laddish culture at British universities, it has led to an unhealthy cocktail of stomach-turning rituals.
Universities and the professional game traditionally have a stronger relationship than the likes of football, partly because of its recent amateur past.
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One prime recent example occurred when Wales and British Lions centre Jamie Roberts played for Cambridge in the varsity match in 2015.
The RFU is desperate to halt the slide in participants and invest more money in the sport to help it grow.
Twickenham chiefs announced yesterday they will invest £443million to try and overhaul football as England’s most dominant sport.
But Sport England figures from 2016 showed there are about 199,000 rugby players playing once a week, while football has around 1.84m.
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