Hartpury College in Gloucestershire has joined a select band of further education establishments in England after being named a Beacon College for rugby by the Rugby Football Union.
Hartpury is the third college in the South West to achieve Beacon status, which together with the second-tier Accredited College award sets standards of providing rugby to students and working alongside RFU staff and other partners.
Gloucester Rugby have, of course, enjoyed a close relationship with Hartpury College for some years now with the team's training base located at the College and a number of Academy players gaining valuable playing experience with Hartpury.
Peter Bath, the RFU's National Student Development Manager, said:
"I am delighted that Hartpury College has achieved the Beacon College Award. We have developed the award in partnership with British Colleges Sport to encourage colleges to raise standards and to celebrate the great work that is taking place in Further Education across the country."
"The award recognises that the college is offering a great environment for rugby players to develop while combining it with a full range of educational opportunities."
The RFU works alongside the Rugby Football Union for Women (RFUW), British Colleges Sport (BCS) and Constituent Body Rugby Development Partnerships to support and develop the game of rugby in colleges of further education.
The RFU, RFUW and BCS can offer through this programme a range of development tools, resources, courses and support to suit the needs of the individual college in return for the college developing the game from within.
Peter Bath added:
"We are aiming to reach a total of around 30 Accredited Colleges and a dozen Beacon Colleges in the next 18 months."
"It helps raise standards of rugby provision and also gives students aged 16-plus a guide of where to carry on with their rugby. And we would like colleges to start leading the process."
Beacon Awards (6)(at August 1, 2009)
Accredited Awards (13)(at August 1, 2009)
Basingstoke College of Technology (BCOT)
Richard Huish College
Queen Mary's College
6th Form Colchester College
Henley College, Coventry
South Nottingham College
Peterborough Regional College
Gloucester recorded a 32-20 win over La Rochelle on Thursday evening, and second row Jeremy Thrush was thrilled to pick up the victory on his first taste of a trip to France and the hostile atmosphere.
Gloucester were forced to battle for their 33-20 victory in La Rochelle on Thursday evening, something that centre Bill Meakes said that he and the squad were well prepared for as well as thanking the travelling support for the part they played.
Gloucester got off to a winning start in the European Rugby Challenge Cup last weekend, but Head Coach Laurie Fisher is expecting a much tougher challenge when the Cherry and Whites travel to La Rochelle for Thursday night's Round Two encounter.
Dan Thomas was a try scorer in the 14-62 defeat at the hands of the Barbarians on Tuesday evening, but told GRTV after the game that he'd really enjoyed taking on the Barbarians and locking horns with Ardie Savea at the breakdown.
After a long, hard battle to return to fitness, Henry Trinder made his long awaited comeback in the second half of the 23-10 win over Zebre on Saturday and admitted he was taken aback by the reception he got from the Kingsholm crowd.
21 year old number eight Lewis Ludlow formed part of a physical back row effort in the 23-10 European Rugby Challenge Cup over Zebre on Saturday. Speaking to GRTV after the game, he spoke of making the most of his chances and being happy to contribute to the Gloucester win.
Gloucester United kick off their Aviva Premiership A League campaign against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Monday evening (kick off 7pm) and have named a side which features lots of first team experience.