The Head of Gloucester Rugby’s Academy has highlighted the importance of its relationship with Hartpury in the development of its potential future stars.
Eight players from the Premiership club have joined Hartpury University RFC – the only student-led team in the Championship – on loan in preparation for the start of the new season next month.
Those players include current Hartpury College student Arthur Clark and Hartpury University students Joe Howard and Issac Marsh, who both also attended Hartpury College.
Recent Hartpury graduates now playing for Gloucester Rugby include Wales international Louis Rees-Zammit – last season’s Rugby Players Association’s Young Player of the Year.
Only first-team matches in the Gallagher Premiership have been allowed to take place while Covid-19 restrictions have been in place, meaning many of Gloucester Rugby’s Academy talent haven’t played for 12 months.
Peter Walton, Head of Academy at Gloucester Rugby, said the relationship with Hartpury, where the club’s training centre is based, provided the players with an opportunity to gain valuable game time when Championship fixtures resume on March 6.
“There’s no substitute for playing – you need to play,” he said. “That’s why it’s important with our relationship with Hartpury RFC and BUCS that our players are able to get some rugby.
“We’d rather have our players playing than being sat in the gym – they need to be playing rugby.
“Hopefully they get some game time with Hartpury but there is no guarantee as they’ve got a big squad, but they’ve been training with Hartpury for the last three months.
“It’s a good chance for them to play some Championship rugby if they get the opportunity and give them some rugby.”
The rugby pathway at Hartpury – a RFU University Partner – means that alongside their studies, students can play for Hartpury College, Hartpury University and its Championship club Hartpury University RFC.
John Barnes, the Director of Rugby at Hartpury, said: “Hartpury’s rugby programme and Gloucester Rugby have enjoyed a very strong relationship over the years, with many of our students progressing into professional contracts with the Cherry and Whites.
“We’re delighted that several of the talented Gloucester Academy players who are joining us this season are former and current Hartpury students.
“They’ll know all about the hard work we put in to prepare our players for matches so they’re ready for the challenges ahead.
“It’s great to have them aboard and we look forward to playing some games of rugby again!”
Last year, Hartpury was ranked number one in the world at producing professional rugby players, with more than 200 Hartpury alumni having played international rugby or signed professional contracts.
The institution’s renowned reputation was underlined again with 11 alumni named in international squads for the men’s 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championship – Rees-Zammit, Dan Robson, Jonny Hill, Jonny May, Ellis Genge, Harry Randall, Alex Craig, Billy Burns, Sebastian Negri, Callum Braley and Stephen Varney.
Picture: Arthur Clark playing for Hartpury (credit Lauren Couchman/LNC Images)