This has been a rough start of the year for the University of Exeter’s Camborne School of Mines (CSM).

At the beginning of October the students of the school caused outrage by wearing high-vis tabards covered with offensive comments on a night out in Falmouth Town, which resulted in an undergoing investigation.

Almost exactly a month after, CSM was once again at the centre of attention.

As a matter of fact, a petition was started by Max Sterling, captain of CSM rugby team, calling to save the historic Bottle Match against the Royal School of Mines (RSM), following apparent proposals by the Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union (FXU) to cancel the sporting event indefinitely and remove the CSM name from sports clubs.

However, this turned out to be a misunderstanding between the two parts involved. Following the turmoil caused by the petition, that got thousands of signatures, FXU released a statement to clarify the situation.

Hanna Brixton, FXU Activities Director and Deputy CEO, confirmed to Truthfal that there are no current plans to cancel the annual Bottle Match, and that, while being aware of the petition started by the CSM rugby team, no such proposal is under consideration at present.

“We understand that an internal FXU paper produced had a statement within it saying that the Bottle Match had been cancelled this year. This internal discussion paper has unfortunately been circulated widely leading to this understandable belief that the match would be cancelled. FXU apologises for any misunderstanding caused by this”

This year is bringing on the 115th Bottle Match, traditionally carried on in February, which has been held in Cornwall 54 times, being played by 3450 students. Since the first game in 1902, the Great War was the only thing that prevented it from being played.

Connor Watkins playing in a rugby match

Connor Watkins, a CSM Rugby player, told Truthfal: “I would have been devastated if the Bottle Match was cancelled, as this could be my last chance to play in it, but mainly because this is what us boys work for all season.”

FXU, though, is cautious in being associated with the Camborne School of Mines Student Association, after the accident that found the students of the school involved in October.

“CSMSA may have been involved in the leadership/organisation of the event so the society and its activities have therefore been temporarily suspended from affiliation with FXU pending the outcome of the investigation. Once the university has completed their investigation, then we will review the findings and seek to resolve any issues with CSMSA and consider any appropriate action from the evidence”, Brixton told Truthfal.

Another issue raised in the petition is the possibility that the name CSM could be removed from sports club. In fact, many sports have taken on the CSM name over the years, including hockey, netball and football and whole of them have been welcomed to partake in the historic sporting event since 2004.

Proposals and options are currently being looked at as part of a wider review of all FXU student clubs and societies, to provide a more coherent way forward for activities conducted within FXU. Braxton said that because there is much confusion over how many clubs brand themselves, FXU would like to simplify this “to reflect the future ambitions of the Falmouth and Exeter partnership project”.

The entire situation caused worry for RSM rugby team as well, as the event is a major part of their calendar as much as it is for CSM.

Benedict Conway-Jones, Royal School of Mines Union Vice President (Clubs & Societies), which organises the annual varsity match, told Truthfal: “Was the Bottle Match cancelled, it would be a huge loss to both us and the CSM. The Royal School of Mines is a varied and strong community and part of our identity is built on Bottle Match. The event also creates a real buzz and an atmosphere of anticipation which adds to the student experience.”

Conway-Jones also believes that the petition demonstrates the importance of the sporting event, given that not only students but many alumni have signed and are “willing to make a return to safeguard the bottle match.”

As the Royal School of Mines Vice-President stated, many former players from both teams have showed their support. Bryan Bowden, former RSM player, commented that it would be an “absolute tragedy” if the bottle match was to end, as he holds fond memories of it. Ryan Sweet, former CSM, who competed twice in the match, wrote that it was one of the “highlights” of his time at university.

Conway-Jones added that having such an historic sporting event is a “huge draw” for future students and that both schools want to continue putting on an “enjoyable, safe and sustainable event.”

After the misunderstanding was clarified, the captain of the CSM rugby team updated the petition confirming that the 2018 Bottle Match will, in fact, go ahead. He added that he was glad they all “made a statement that that history and heritage is not something to be taken lightly”.


CSM Rugby Team