Hartpury University Centre is one of only 15 higher education institutions selected by the Rugby Football Union to be part of a new programme aimed at strengthening and growing student rugby.
The RFU is investing £220,000 into planning and delivering a rugby participation programme alongside 15 university partners. It carried out one to one interviews with universities in order to select the final 15 to be offered the three-year deal.
Five times British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) national champions and BUCS Sevens winners in 2015, Hartpury’s senior rugby programme is one of the most successful in the UK.
The additional funding support from the RFU will help the partner universities to further develop player, coach and facility standards and increase participation across the men’s and women’s game.
This partnership will ensure a higher quality offer for a greater number of men’s teams at the partner universities as well as provide additional support to those participating in the new BUCS National League, including Hartpury.
Hartpury is also one of six hub sites selected by the RFU that will drive improvements in the women’s elite game through focused support for talented players.
John Barnes, Hartpury Director of Rugby, said: “This partnership is great news for the future of student rugby and we’re pleased to have been selected by the RFU to help drive it forward.
“Hartpury already has an exceptional reputation for the quality of our senior rugby programme, with many of our BUCS players having the opportunity to play for local clubs at a range of levels, including for Hartpury RFC in National League One.
“Many of our players go on to secure professional contracts and even international selection, but widening and increasing player participation across all levels is something we’re passionate about, so we welcome this additional funding to support this exciting programme.”
Through strengthening existing teams and growing new links with community clubs and other rugby-playing institutions, the RFU partnership will provide additional playing opportunities for students to play.
The partnership will also track and record students involved in all rugby-related activities to enable the RFU to place rugby-playing leavers in community rugby clubs, ensuring players are integrated into community clubs following their studies.
Mark Saltmarsh, Head of Education and Development at the RFU said: “The 15 selected partner institutions will be leading examples of universities who will provide a high level of commitment and a quality standard of rugby that will help enhance the experience for players of all abilities.
“Our aim is that the new partnerships provide fantastic playing opportunities for students of all levels and abilities and further grow the game in the sector and the numbers of players continuing to play in rugby clubs when they leave.”