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​University Student Died After Rugby Initiation Drinking Game, Inquest Hears

​University Student Died After Rugby Initiation Drinking Game, Inquest Hears

Sam Potter was tragically found dead in May 2019, having taken part in an end-of-season drinking game with rugby teammates

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman

A university student died of alcohol poisoning after taking part in a rugby initiation drinking game, an inquest has heard.

Sam Potter, 19, was tragically found dead in May 2019, having taken part in an end-of-season drinking game in a garden shed with rugby teammates from the University of Gloucestershire.

An inquest into Potter's death at the Gloucestershire Coroner's Court heard yesterday (20 April) how the four-hour session involved consuming various alcoholic drinks and food sauces.

Potter, from Hersham in Surrey, was described as being 'extremely intoxicated', and ended up falling asleep on the floor leaning against a sofa at around 6pm on 8 May.

He had drunk a fatal level of alcohol, toxicology tests found.

Stock image.

Paramedics attended the scene at around 5.30am the following day after friends were unable to wake Potter, and went on to confirm his death.

The toxicology tests revealed that the amount the second-year Film Production student had drunk was the equivalent of more than four-and-a-half times the legal drink-drive limit.

Katy Skerrett, Senior Coroner for Gloucestershire, recorded a conclusion of alcohol-related death, saying Potter had 362mg of ethanol per 100ml of blood - which is even more than the 350mg that experts consider to be a fatal amount.

Skerrett said: "Sam clearly consumed a large amount of alcohol at that event. There is nothing to indicate attendance was anything other than voluntary.

"Clearly, there is an element of peer pressure in any such event, but the evidence points to this being a voluntary attendance by Sam.

"What seems very clear is the amount Sam consumed tragically exceeded the amount that can cause fatal alcohol toxicity and very tragically Sam succumbed to the effects of that toxicity."

Speaking after the hearing, Potter's parents, Kevin and Lindsay, said education around the issue is 'key', as is 'addressing the problem areas in the culture of sport that can exist at universities'.

Family Handout

They said: "It appears that none of the students involved had any idea of the dangers associated with drinking large amounts of alcohol over a short amount of time, or how to recognise the signs of alcohol poisoning and the potential for it to be fatal.

"Our hope is that by increasing the awareness of these issues, universities step up to try and change things for the better for their students.

"Affecting positive change in drinking culture will not be easy but we have to try."

In the wake of Potter's death, the University of Gloucestershire has commissioned an independent report into the culture and practises of its sports clubs and societies.

Stewart Dove, Student Registrar, said the report made 22 recommendations, which included hiring a Director of Sport.

In a joint statement, the university and the students' union said: "We have already begun work to ensure the culture of sport at the university is changed for the better, building on the strengths identified in the report while also learning the lessons of this tragic case which has been deeply distressing for all concerned."

Featured Image Credit: Family Handout

Topics: Students, UK News, News