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
Speaking ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Newcastle Falcons (kick off 3pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys emphasised the importance this weekend of Gloucester building on last week's impressive home victory against the Exeter Chiefs.
Speaking to the assembled national and local media, try-scorer Jonny May was delighted and relieved to have tasted victory on Saturday evening, and is looking forward to the European Rugby Challenge Cup final.
Tom Savage delivered a Man of the Match performance against Exeter Chiefs on his birthday on Saturday evening. He spoke to GRTV after the game about the importance of the European Rugby Challenge Cup win.
Speaking to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby face Exeter Chiefs this Saturday in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final, and Charlie Sharples, who starts at full back is relishing the challenge of the big Kingsholm occasion.
Gloucester meet the Exeter Chiefs for the fourth time in competitive action this weekend, this time in the semi-final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Director of Rugby David Humphreys told the local media this week that this is the sort of game that Gloucester want to be involved in on a regular basis and that he and his team are looking forward to it.
Following the 29-26 loss to Harlequins, club captain Billy Twelvetrees spoke of his disappointment that the Cherry and Whites were unable to cash in on the home side's indiscipline and lose a lead on Saturday afternoon.
Gloucester Rugby return to Aviva Premiership action against the Newcastle Falcons on Saturday (Kingsholm, kick off 3pm), and make several changes to the side that defeated Exeter Chiefs at home last weekend.