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
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The West Country Challenge Cup fixture against the Exeter Chiefs at the Memorial Stadium in Bristol on Saturday (kick off 3pm) will be Gloucester's last chance to work on things like new combinations says Director of Rugby, David Humphreys.
Speaking after the 30-21 West Country Challenge Cup defeat at Bath, Director of Rugby David Humphreys spoke of the improvements his team are making as preseason progresses but acknowledges that there is still work to do ahead of the start of the Aviva Premiership.
Speaking to the local media ahead of Saturday's trip to Bath Rugby in the West Country Challenge Cup, front rower Nick Wood spoke of the hard work put in across the extended preseason and highlighted the competition for front row spots in the squad.
Gloucester have named a 30 man squad for the latest round of West Country Challenge Cup action against Bath on Saturday, with Director of Rugby David Humphreys stressing the need to keep an eye on player workload ahead of what will be a long, tough season.
Describing the 50-7 West Country Challenge Cup win over Bath on Sunday as a '...good hit out...', wing Charlie Sharples admitted that it had been a good opportunity to put into practice things that the squad have been trying out in training in recent weeks.
Speaking to the local media after the 50-7 victory over Bath Rugby on Sunday, David Humphreys was happy with his squad's effort, with the most important aspect being the game time earned by his players.
Gloucester make wholesale changes to the side that started at Exeter last Saturday as they prepare to take on Bath at the Memorial Stadium, Bristol on Sunday in the West Country Challenge Cup (kick off 3pm). The Director of Rugby told GRTV that the players are raring to go and that he's looking forward to seeing different combinations in action.