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-Hartpury Women take on West Park Leeds Ladies in the final of the Intermediate Cup Final on Saturday. Head Coach Susie Appleby took time out to preview the game and chat about the future for the team.
Number eight Ben Morgan admitted that the 32-14 Aviva Premiership win over Bristol on Friday evening hadn't been pretty at times, but that the win was based on everyone in the squad remaining united and working for each other.
Previewing Friday evening's local derby at Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell told the local media that Gloucester's preparations have gone well and that the whole squad is united in trying to finish the season on a high.
Speaking to GRTV this week, Acting Head Coach Jonny Bell spoke of his pleasure in the efforts and intensity in training from the squad after a tricky few weeks. The team were preparing for big games with Bristol and Cardiff in coming weeks.
Willi Heinz was understandably and visibly disappointed when he spoke to GRTV after the 27-30 home defeat to Harlequins, apologising to the home support as the game slipped away after seemingly having the game under control.
Speaking to the local media this week, Scottish centre Matt Scott spoke of the squad's determination to put in a big home performance against Harlequins, with vital points up for grabs in the hunt for a Top Six spot this Saturday (KO 3pm)
In the aftermath of the Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol, Interim Head Coach Jonny Bell was able to look forward to this weekend's European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues (Kingsholm, kick off 8:05pm).