BUCS Super Rugby, a ‘good launch pad’ into professional rugby!

The ambition and drive of young rugby players to reach the highest level is common at the UK university level and the ways in which it can be achieved are very different. Whilst many players will go through club academies or spend time out on loan at lower league clubs before being given a chance in the main squad, others have been successful through the UK university system.

BUCS Super Rugby is the highest level of rugby union in the UK university sport system. Every year, 10 of the best university teams in the country compete for the BUCS Super Rugby League title. The League contains some of the most promising young players in the country and has become a regular pathway into the professional game for many former UK university students.

So much so that last year, over 25 players from the 2021/22 BUCS Super Rugby campaign were able to secure professional contracts and are currently playing for teams at the Premiership and Championship level in the UK.

Michael Etete is one former UK university player who has been able to secure a professional contract following a fantastic BUCS Super Rugby career. In a recent interview with Joe Harvey at Talking Rugby Union, Michael spoke on how university rugby has prepared him for his professional career.

Why university Rugby?

Michael graduated from Leeds Beckett University alongside playing for the BUCS Super Rugby side and joined Bath Rugby at the start of the 2022/23 season and has recently praised the level of UK university rugby, branding it a good pathway into the professional ranks.

“I wanted to play professional rugby. That’s what I wanted to do since I was 17 or 18, and I think just seeing Alex Dombrand and Luke Northmore [Harlequins] transition from BUCS to professional rugby, I thought why not play BUCS and see what could happen and see if I would take the same sort of pathway.”

“I think it [BUCS Super Rugby] is definitely a good option if you want to get your name out there and get coaches looking at you. I think BUCS is definitely a good way to go. To a lot of younger boys who would be in the academy set-up, I’d say go to uni because coaches are watching those leagues anyway.”

University Rugby a “launch-pad”

Etete has had first-hand experience of why university rugby was so vital to Dombrant’s and Northmore’s development, with the opportunity to be integrated into rugby also key to his own progression.

“I feel like those guys anyway would have had the potential,” the back row said. “I think it is just a good launch pad in terms of having that professional environment adding to your development, strength and conditioning, or developing your actual rugby skills through coaching time and one-on-one time with coaches.

“After our games on Wednesdays, we’d normally have a review on Friday and look back through the games with the coaches individually. I think that helps with the personal development and making you a better player all round.”

UK universities and their sports clubs have the potential of being the future of recruitment for professional clubs. Students that play in BUCS competitions and have the ambition to reach professional rugby could find themselves chosen by some of the best teams in the UK in future seasons.

Combining your sport with your studies at a UK university

There are a wide range of rugby opportunities for any student who wishes to compete alongside their degree. With men’s and women’s teams competing weekly in a tiered league structure, players of all ability levels can experience rugby during their time in the U.K.

Whether you have aspirations of playing professional rugby in the future or simply wish to join a rugby team for social reasons alongside your studies, U.K. university rugby union can offer a wide range of opportunities to match your level of interest and ability.

Learn more about playing rugby at the university level via the link below.

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