We relive two unforgettable BUCS Rugby Union Championship Finals to find out which university teams came out on top.
The stage was set, the crowds were roaring, and the best of the best in university rugby descended upon Saracens’ Stone X Stadium yesterday to battle it out for glory in this year’s highly anticipated BUCS Rugby Union Championship Finals.
The 10,500-seated venue provided a fitting backdrop for the fierce tackles, blistering runs, and thrilling moments of triumph and heartbreak that unfolded in both matches.
Reigning champions Hartpury returned to the Women’s National Championship final to take on 2019 victors, Exeter. Despite the season series tied at 1-1 between the sides prior to kick off, Hartpury have enjoyed a spectacular season, securing the Premier National Divison with an impressive 9-1 record.
In the BUCS Super Rugby Final, last year’s winners Exeter returned to defend their title against this year’s League Champions, Loughborough. The challengers were crowned League winners last month after narrowly edging out Exeter on the last day of the season, setting up a hotly contested showdown.
Find out which teams were crowned 2023 BUCS National Champions below.
Women’s National Championship Final
Hartpury cruise to victory in this year’s Women’s National Championship final, beating Exeter 45-12.
Hartpury delivered a dominant display against Exeter at the StoneX Stadium to clinch successive National Championship titles.
The now back-to-back champions stormed out of the gates, taking the lead inside two minutes with a try from Lucia Scott. Tries from Hannah Kibble and Amy Dale swiftly followed to put Hartpury up 17-0 at the 25-minute mark.
Throughout the afternoon, Hartpury’s forwards proved dominant in the battles up front, allowing them to gain a convincing advantage in possession and territory.
Tries from Georgina Brock, Hannah Kibble, Steph Else, and substitute Gemma Bell, saw the reigning champions control the final from start to finish.
Despite tries from Maddy Boocock and Lottie Dadds, a valiant Exeter side chased the game for large portions of the 80 minutes and ultimately come up short in their quest for Championship glory.
Hartpury end their exceptional season as League and Cup champions and showcased the sheer determination and skill that has led them to be crowned the queens of UK university rugby once again.
Exeter retain the men’s BUCS Championship after beating Loughborough in an extraordinary 13-try thriller at the StoneX Stadium.
In an unforgettable BUCS Super Rugby Final, rugby powerhouses Exeter and Loughborough delivered one of the most exciting finals the competition has ever seen. Tied 41-41 after 80 minutes, the epic matchup needed extra time to decide this year’s winner.
The two sides traded early blow, with Niall Armstrong’s opening try of the match for Exeter negated by Teddy Leatherbarrow’s of Loughborough. Two quick scores from Josh Barton and Milo Hallam of Exeter gave the 2022 champions a 19-7 lead midway through the first half.
Trailing 24-19 at halftime, Exeter responded perfectly after the break. With Loughborough’s captain, Teddy Leatherbarrow sin-binned, they took full advantage to level the scores through Jared Williams. Consecutive tries followed from Exeter’s Harvey Dunn and Kobi Barton-Byfield, giving the reigning champions a healthy lead heading into the final two minutes.
Exeter looked to have the contest wrapped up after Milo Hallam’s score gave the champions a 41-34 lead. However, a late try from Loughborough’s Harry Rowson and a conversion from Titcombe sent the match into overtime.
An early penalty miss from Loughborough’s Charlie Titcombe was followed by a successful kick to give his side a 44-41 lead on the stroke of half-time.
But it was Exeter’s Tom Cairns who scored the final points of the match with a brilliant try in the 95th minute. The back-to-back champions held firm against one final charge from the League Champions to secure an epic victory.
All image credits: Izzy Poles (Instagram: @izzypolessportsphotography)
Learn more about UK University Rugby
The BUCS Rugby Union Championship finals were an unforgettable showcase of the very best university rugby has to offer.
As the sport continues to grow in popularity and prestige, we’re seeing more and more talented players make the jump to the professional ranks after honing their skills in the BUCS competition.
And while the Championship finals represent the pinnacle of university rugby, there are opportunities for students of all levels to get involved and compete alongside their studies.
If you’re interested in learning more about UK university rugby or wish to register your interest in competing alongside your studies, click the links below.
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