Having leapfrogged into the BUCS Super Rugby top spot after last week’s emphatic victory over Northumbria, Hartpury University Centre’s first team will be in confident mood ahead of their re-match with Durham.
Skipper Sebastian Negri’s team took their first steps on the potential road to Twickenham at Durham when they kicked off their Super Rugby campaign at the start of October, holding on to a narrow lead in front or a large, partisan home crowd under floodlights to claim a 29-25 win.
Hartpury went on to claim victories against Cardiff away from home and defending BUCS champions, Exeter, at home, before putting in a dominant display against Northumbria last Wednesday to emerge 67-6 winners and maintain their unbeaten run in the new BUCS Super Rugby competition – the new national league bringing together the eight best men’s university rugby teams in the country.
Durham have had mixed fortunes in the competition so far. They have played one more game than Hartpury and have won three, lost two – their other defeat came at Loughborough. They will be hopeful of taking their revenge at Hartpury though, having won their most recent fixtures against Cardiff Met at Bath University.
Hartpury Director of Rugby, John Barnes, said: “Durham away was probably the toughest game we’ve played in the competition so far. They are a good, well drilled side with a strong set piece and we know we will be challenged.
“They put us under a lot of pressure at their place and, with all of the Hartpury first teams – the RFC, BUCS and Under-18s – currently unbeaten for the season, our players will be feeling the pressure of maintaining that run too.
“Every team is focused on their own competitions though and I know the BUCS team is benefiting from the step-up in intensity that the new BUCS Super Rugby competition has brought about.
“It has increased their desire to perform and to win. They had very few hard games last year but this year, every game is a challenge. It’s great for when players make the step-up into the RFC team too because they are playing a higher standard of rugby week in, week out.
“It has also resulted in our seconds being able to be promoted into the BUCS Premier League with the firsts now playing Super Rugby. That’s giving them a higher level of competition and they have responded well, currently sitting at the top of that league.”
This week’s test with Durham could well be their stiffest of the whole campaign as they bid to make it all the way to the showpiece final at Twickenham on March 26th, 2017. Hartpury last won the BUCS Championship in 2014.
Wednesday night’s clash with Durham will kick off at 6pm. Entry to watch the game on the main rugby pitch is free and spectators wearing red and black can get a pint for £2!