Top universities for hockey

Students competing in a university hockey tournament
Don’t shoot blindly for the goal: find out the best universities for men’s and women’s hockey.

British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the governing body in the UK for sport at university level. Hockey is its second most popular team sport, with over 550 men’s and women’s teams playing at seven different levels, so there are lots of opportunities for players of any ability to get involved.

The highest level of competition for both the men’s and women’s teams is the BUCS championship final. We looked at recent BUCS championship results, as well as each team’s presence in national and international leagues, to bring you the top five universities for hockey.

All information correct at time of writing in 2017.

University of Birmingham

There are currently ten hockey teams at the University of Birmingham, five men’s and five women’s.

Birmingham’s women’s first team is incredibly prolific, having won the BUCS women’s championship final each year since the 2013–2014 season. In 2017, it is the only university team to be playing in the premier division of England’s Women’s Hockey League. Four members of England’s international team are also part of Birmingham’s team, with one, Lily Owlsley, having won a gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

In the 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 championship finals, Birmingham’s men’s first team made it to the semi-final. Along with teams from the University of Bristol, the University of Exeter and Cardiff Metropolitan University, the men’s first team competes in the Conference West division of England’s Men’s Hockey League.

Durham University

Hockey is one of the most successful and popular team sports at Durham University. The university has five men’s and five women’s teams; both the men’s first and women’s first teams have performed consistently well in BUCS championships, usually reaching the semi-finals (a quarter-final place in the 2015–2016 women’s championship being a notable exception).

Durham enters men’s and women’s teams into England Hockey’s respective leagues at Conference level. In 2017, one student, Jack Turner, played for England’s senior men’s team, and travelled to South Africa to compete in a series of test matches against the South African and German teams.

University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh claims to have the greatest number of hockey teams of any UK university, with seven men’s teams and ten women’s teams.

The women’s first team’s performance has seen it through to the semi-finals of the BUCS championships in 2016 and 2017. It also recently came first in its division of both the Scottish Women’s National League and the international EuroHockey Club Champions Challenge competition. However, the men’s teams at Edinburgh have been slightly less prolific than their women’s team counterparts.

Loughborough University

The men’s first team at Loughborough University came first in the BUCS men’s championship finals in the 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 seasons and is one of only two university hockey teams to compete at professional level in the Premier division of England Hockey’s Men’s Hockey League.

In 2015–2016 Loughborough’s women’s first team made it to the quarter finals of the BUCS championship. In the 2016–2017 season it was runner-up in the championship and played at Conference level in England Hockey’s Women’s Hockey League.

Both teams boast an impressive number of students who have represented or do represent England at international level. In 2017, three students were part of England’s senior men’s team and one a member of the senior women’s team.

University of Nottingham

As well as entering six teams into BUCS competitions, the University of Nottingham’s hockey club aims to cater for all abilities and so also fields four teams in the local Midland Region Hockey Association (MRHA)’s men’s hockey league. Alongside training and competitions, the club also holds weekly socials on Wednesdays.

The men’s first team came out on top of the 2014–2015 BUCS championship, earning it its first victory in 50 years. The year following this it only made it to the quarter finals, before being the runners up in the 2016–2017 competition. Nottingham’s women’s first team consistently reaches the quarter finals of the championship. Neither the men’s or women’s first teams compete in either of England Hockey’s leagues, but one student, James Gall, is also a member of England’s international team.

Mixed hockey

Alongside their dedicated men’s and women’s teams, many institutions in the UK also run mixed hockey teams that are open to anybody. The BUCS does not organise a nationwide mixed hockey tournament but it does offer a competition as part of the London Universities Sports League (LUSL). Many mixed teams still compete in tournaments outside of the BUCS. Notable teams include:

Small-sided hockey

The BUCS, England Hockey and Sports England have been working to establish a ‘smaller’ version of hockey. Like rugby sevens or twenty20 cricket, ‘small’ hockey will be faster and have fewer players (with five or six people on each side). This new sport hasn’t been fully set-up yet, but, in 2015–2016, trial events were held at 14 institutions, including at the universities of Nottingham, Sheffield, Bath and Leeds.

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