Top universities for rugby

University students playing rugby
Whether you play rugby league or rugby union, find out which universities are the best for scoring tries while studying.

Whether you play rugby league or rugby union, find out which universities are the best for scoring tries while studying.

British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the governing body for sport in the UK at university level and organises a rugby league and rugby union programme.

BUCS hosts both a women’s and men’s rugby union league in the UK as well as a rugby sevens programme. Rugby union at university level is divided into a league programme and a cup competition. BUCS has also introduced BUCS Super Rugby, a league of the eight best university rugby teams.

Currently, there is only a men’s rugby league competition structure organised through BUCS; however, there are plans to introduce a women’s league in the future. The men’s league is divided into a premier league, championship, trophy and conference cup knock-out competition.

Loughborough University

Loughborough is the only university to have fielded teams who have finished in the top ten of the league tables in men’s rugby union, women’s rugby union and men’s rugby league over the last five years. In fact, in those five years the men’s rugby league team has consistently finished in the top five, coming out on top in the 2012–2013 season.

University of Exeter

The University of Exeter has had teams feature in the top ten in both men’s and women’s rugby union for the past five years and is one of the eight universities to field a team in the newly introduced BUCS Super Rugby. For the last four seasons Exeter’s men’s rugby union team has come first in the league. The university’s women’s union team has also made a regular appearance in the top five of the league tables for the last three seasons and came close to winning the league in the 2012–2013 season, coming second to Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Cardiff Metropolitan University

Cardiff Metropolitan University’s men’s rugby union team has ranked in the top ten of the league for the last five years. Its women’s rugby union team also topped the league table for five seasons from 2011 to 2016, only narrowly missing out on the number one spot in the 2016–2017 season. The university has women’s teams in both the BUCS Premier South division and Western 1A division, as well as fielding teams in rugby sevens tournaments.

Durham University

Durham has had teams rank in the top ten for the men’s and women’s rugby union league for the last five seasons and in 2017 placed fourth in the BUCS Super Rugby league table. Durham’s women’s rugby union team has a strong track record for its BUCS performance, coming third in the league for five seasons running. The university also runs its Elite Rugby Performance Programme to support its best players by offering a high level of coaching and support to develop its players to a professional standard.

Leeds Beckett University

Leeds Beckett University runs five rugby union teams (four men’s and one women’s) and is part of the BUCS Super Rugby league. Its performance in men’s rugby league has resulted in the team remaining firmly in the top three for the last five seasons, winning in both 2014 and 2015 as well as winning 11 consecutive championship titles. The university offers its own rugby union programme, which gives its best players the opportunity to develop their skills to a professional standard, resulting in a number of its alumni going on to secure professional contracts.

Hartpury College

Hartpury College currently tops the BUCS Super Rugby league table and its men’s rugby union team boasts an impressive league performance, remaining in the top five for the last five seasons. Hartpury College also operates a men’s and women’s rugby academy, which has produced over 150 international players in the last decade.

University of Bath

For the past five years, the University of Bath’s men’s rugby union team has regularly finished in the top ten of the BUCS league table. The university’s rugby club is one of its biggest societies and is made up of six BUCS teams. The university accommodates various levels of skill and includes a men’s league team, women’s union team and a mixed touch-rugby team.

Northumbria University

A regular in the BUCS rugby league, Northumbria University has come first for the past two seasons, beating previous winners Leeds Beckett University. The university currently runs two rugby league teams with a plan to introduce a third. Its women’s union team has had a strong presence in the league tables over the past three seasons, coming second to Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2016.

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