The Hartpury rugby ‘machine’ moves into a higher gear this week with a raft of important fixtures – and that’s before we even think about Saturday’s Greene King IPA Championship encounter with Doncaster Knights.
Student rugby steps up a notch as Hartpury contemplate their opening BUCS Super Rugby fixture of the season as we travel to last season’s semi-finalists, Loughborough University. Neither side played in last week’s opening round of matches but Hartpury have retained many of the squad who won last season’s league and play-off ‘double’ and will be looking forward to the challenge ahead.
Hooker Luke Stratford will skipper the side and will play alongside the likes of Rob Fuller, Callum Bowden, Alex Gibson, Harry Wilson, Sam Leeming, Jamie Forrester, Victor Pisano, Maliq Holden and Des Merrey (also a BUCS winner in 2014) – all of whom played a part in last season’s triumph.
Into the squad come Master’s students Mike Daniels (formerly at Loughborough) and Aquile Smith, along with age-group internationals Ben Fry (Wales) and Joe Mullis (England). Nick Carpenter, Charlie Chapman and Harry Agnew all have experience at Championship and/or National 1 level.
That game kicks off at 7pm and will be live-streamed via the this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUQlm9Sbx3w
Meanwhile, the AASE squad will looking to continue their unbeaten start to the season when we welcome Exeter College to the Gillman’s Ground (2.30pm). Exeter College are also unbeaten this season and are the only side other than Hartpury to have won the AASE competition.
Hartpury had won all seven AASE tournaments before last season, when a home defeat at Beechen Cliff ruled them out of the final.
We had a slightly stuttering start to the season, at home to Henley College (Wasps), but since then have had good wins against Truro (Chiefs), Filton (Bristol) and Beechen Cliff (Bath). This one should be a cracker, so get down to the Sports Academy and cheer the lads on, if you are not on a pitch somewhere yourself! All spectators are welcome and entry to all student matches is absolutely free.
Other fixtures tomorrow see the BUCS 2s in action against USW 1sts (home, 3pm) and the newly-promoted BUCS 3s playing Kings College, London, 1sts (away, 2pm). In the Junior section, the 2s take on Coleg Cymoedd (home, 2pm), while the 3s travel to play Hereford College (Luctonians RFC, 2.30pm).
We have to wait another week before our Womens University XV and our newly-formed Men’s 4s will make their respective league debuts.