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Russell Group Uni RL


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I was doing a bit of research on the "top 24" group of Unis in the UK. Interestingly enough 13 out of the 24 have at least 1 RL side playing in a Uni League, when you take that to 20 with England only it becomes 13 out of 20 with both parts of Oxbridge being represented. This list doesn't include the likes of Loughborough or Leeds Beckett. As we are setting up our club from an independent school we are trying to increase Rugby League awareness and skills set so hopefully they go on to play for unis but I think apart from a few clubs we could be doing more with Uni RL and Under 18s (up to 16s tends to be the stopping age at alot of clubs) 

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I played for my Russell Group team in their first season. They were pretty bad, hence I got a few games! They are now pretty decent.

I'd love to see more uni v uni on youtube rather than just the student home nations. If we had half the quality and coverage of the union BUCS super rugby we'd be onto a winner  

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At my uni the RL side sold themselves as "Rugby without the initiations" or "without the to$$ers". Was made up around 60-40% RL types to RU converts from literally all over the UK. I think Brett Delaney was supposed to be the coach this year.

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It would be interesting to know how many make it into the semi/pro game. I know Jason Bass and Marcus Stock have to York and they definitely have potential to go full time, if they wanted it. I think if players have an awareness of league before they go to uni it can only be a bonus as you don't have to start from scratch but either way trying to keep players in the game is important especially when they settle outside of Uni life. 

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42 minutes ago, Bedfordshire Bronco said:

When I was at uni loads of us played both codes. A good way to convert the huge number of union players going to uni

We also had a lot of people trying league for the first time that had never played either code. League is far more accessible to learn than union so they should tap that market up

 

Exeter 20 years ago, I'm not sure we had an RL side. I played a bit of intra-mural RU for the drama department (on loan from history who tended to have more and better players to choose from to start with).

They've got one now - I follow them on twitter. They're quite good. Funnily enough the strong links with Chiefs are attracting enough decent players who don't make the grade that the RL team is benefitting massively. That's not a sly comment on RL (I've been here long enough) it seems to be what is genuinely happening. As repeated BUSA (or whatever they're called this week) champions, rugby union players are going to Exeter and not all of them are making the grade. So they're looking around and some of them are choosing RL. I'm always a bit cynical of the 'rising tide lifting all boats' line, but it seems to be happening a bit down there.

Edited by iffleyox
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5 minutes ago, iffleyox said:

Exeter 20 years ago, I'm not sure we had an RL side. I played a bit of intra-mural RU for the drama department (on loan from history who tended to have more and better players to choose from to start with).

They've got one now - I follow them on twitter. They're quite good. Funnily enough the strong links with Chiefs are attracting enough decent players who don't make the grade that the RL team is benefitting massively. That's not a sly comment on RL (I've been here long enough) it seems to be what is genuinely happening. As repeated BUSA (or whatever they're called this week) champions, rugby union players are going to Exeter and not all of them are making the grade. So they're looking around and some of them are choosing RL. I'm always a bit cynical of the 'rising tide lifting all boats' line, but it seems to be happening a bit down there.

It's amazing how many uni union clubs claim they were the champions each season. BUCS seem to crown about 3 every year 🙂

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1 minute ago, iffleyox said:

Exeter 20 years ago, I'm not sure we had an RL side. I played a bit of intra-mural RU for the drama department (on loan from history who tended to have more and better players to choose from to start with).

They've got one now - I follow them on twitter. They're quite good. Funnily enough the strong links with Chiefs are attracting enough decent players who don't make the grade that the RL team is benefitting massively. That's not a sly comment on RL (I've been here long enough) it seems to be what is genuinely happening. As repeated BUSA (or whatever they're called this week) champions, rugby union players are going to Exeter and not all of them are making the grade. So they're looking around and some of them are choosing RL. 

It's not a bad thing at all. With our club being based in Harrogate we are always going to be behind union in rankings but have actively reached out to union sides and are having an intro to League course at the Private school where we are based which has a big Union setup they don't play at all during March and August so have a pool of juniors there and have the "unpicked Union" players too. That's on top of the work we are doing with schools in Harrogate and players who genuinely want to play league. The basic skill set is developed in the Union environment with the Private school kids then we run an Introduction to League course with them 

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I went to a northern Russell group Uni in the mid-90s and while I played football not rugby, I can’t even remember there being a League team. The Union boys were everywhere though, in their v neck jumpers, drinking pints of eachother’s p155 and sick etc. 

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1 hour ago, Tommygilf said:

At my uni the RL side sold themselves as "Rugby without the initiations" or "without the to$$ers". Was made up around 60-40% RL types to RU converts from literally all over the UK. I think Brett Delaney was supposed to be the coach this year.

I cannot stress how many people you'd get with this approach.

The fencing club (I kid you not) did ludicrously well at signing up people at my tiny, long forgotten uni almost entirely because they focused on fencing and not on drunken games in the social club. And I speak as someone who very much enjoys drunkenness.

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Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)

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1 hour ago, HarrogateKnights said:

It would be interesting to know how many make it into the semi/pro game. I know Jason Bass and Marcus Stock have to York and they definitely have potential to go full time, if they wanted it. I think if players have an awareness of league before they go to uni it can only be a bonus as you don't have to start from scratch but either way trying to keep players in the game is important especially when they settle outside of Uni life. 

Leeds signed Jimmy Keinhorst after he was scouted playing University rugby league. I believe he is the 1st and only player to play for Leeds through this route. 

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Varsity RL was going well 20 years + ago (2 players made it to the London Broncos) funny enough I was checking the varsity sites earlier (No updates from Oxford for a while and Cambridge is pretty much dead) 

Seems to be a trend even in RU the varsity match is struggling and this years match (Cancelled) will be moved from Twickenham to Richmond which is a far cry from the city corporate p--s up days of 20 years ago with 60000 + at Twickers.

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55 minutes ago, Sir Kevin Sinfield said:

Leeds signed Jimmy Keinhorst after he was scouted playing University rugby league. I believe he is the 1st and only player to play for Leeds through this route. 

Plus of course Alex Walmsley came though that route. 

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6 hours ago, ATLANTISMAN said:

Varsity RL was going well 20 years + ago (2 players made it to the London Broncos) funny enough I was checking the varsity sites earlier (No updates from Oxford for a while and Cambridge is pretty much dead) 

Seems to be a trend even in RU the varsity match is struggling and this years match (Cancelled) will be moved from Twickenham to Richmond which is a far cry from the city corporate p--s up days of 20 years ago with 60000 + at Twickers.

The Broncos signed Nick Mardon (who had an excellent first season, but tailed off in the second) and Iain Higgins playing for them in the early SL years. Plus Ady Spencer, who'd been around for a little while before then. 

IIRC it was Bev Risman, who was scouting for the club at the time, who found them and a fair few of the lads who played in the Academy in the early years. He had a great eye for a player. Unfortunately, after Tony Currie left, the club entered a period where the coaches were focussed on proven players rather than working with young guys with potential.  

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25 minutes ago, Eddie said:

I really like the front page of Sheffield Uni’s RL Club website, pretty much sums up what the game is about and how it’s culturally different to Union. https://www.sport-sheffield.com/clubs/rugbyleague

Yeah they should be advertising for the RFL with some of their statements! But they are right in how the game should and genuinely is operated. We have a Union convert who ended up leaving Uni there as a Level 2 coach alongside his playing experience it's invaluable to have in the community game. 

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Out of interest - wondering why you have just looked at Russell Group uni's?

In my experience, northern students have a much lower propensity to move out of the north of England and are far more likely to be attending universities that are not Russell Group. Particularly when compared to their southern English equivalents.

I'd recommend you look at this geographically, rather than just at university rankings. They are a very poor judgement on university quality.

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Durham Uni in the late 80s had no RL team, and I hooked up with the Durham City Knights (think the guys was Steve Rich?), and a few of my college mates got run outs. It's great to see Durham now having a RL side and if I recall correctly, played in the top league for a couple of years. 

One of my (many) frustrations around age group RL in London and South is we have historically maxed out at u17s, leaving a full year of no RL, and less likelihood of lads continuing at Uni. This year we've gone from u17s to u18s (so 17/18s combined like RU in the region) so it will be interesting to see 1) is that age group feasible given A Levels, etc and 2) how we can encourage and direct lads who are off to Uni to keep their interest going.

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3 hours ago, tiffers said:

Out of interest - wondering why you have just looked at Russell Group uni's?

In my experience, northern students have a much lower propensity to move out of the north of England and are far more likely to be attending universities that are not Russell Group. Particularly when compared to their southern English equivalents.

I'd recommend you look at this geographically, rather than just at university rankings. They are a very poor judgement on university quality.

To answer that question, we are based and playing out of an independent school (Ashville College) their aim is to get as many of their students into Russell Group Unis as a College especially Oxbridge. So as part of this I researched how many of them play RL so we can use it as a tool to offer after school coaching sessions and their Boarders and other students will be joining us too at a weekend. Most of the Ashville kids are either international students, from down South or won't end up back in Harrogate afterwards so our plan is to give them an awareness of League and skill set so when they get to Uni at Russell groups they may give it a try and boost numbers. Hopefully that leads to bigger numbers in the community game in other areas. If for example they played for their local RL amateur club in London on the back of us and Uni RL that to us would be deemed a success. There are over 50 countries represented at the school. 

Some others do settle back in the area going to the likes of Loughborough, Leeds and York etc one example from the women's game is Fran Goldthorp she plays for Leeds Rhinos and went to Ashville College before attending Loughborough Uni. Although we aren't going to take over Union at a private school we can use League and the Australian and American Boarders as a tool to expand playing numbers in Harrogate and drive up standards as we have the best playing facilities, 7 pitches to choose from, 2 sports halls amongst options like a fully equipped gym and swimming pool. Plus their Director of Rugby Union is Gary Mercer ex Kiwi International. 

Edited by HarrogateKnights
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4 hours ago, tiffers said:

Out of interest - wondering why you have just looked at Russell Group uni's?

In my experience, northern students have a much lower propensity to move out of the north of England and are far more likely to be attending universities that are not Russell Group. Particularly when compared to their southern English equivalents.

I'd recommend you look at this geographically, rather than just at university rankings. They are a very poor judgement on university quality.

Why do you think Northern students are less likely to go to Southern universities than vice versa? 

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