- Leeds Metropolitan v UWE Hartpury
- UWE Hartpury bidding for fourth title
Photo: RFU Arhicve
Leeds Metropolitan and UWE Hartpury will face off in the BUCS men's final at Twickenham this Friday (March 28, kick-off 7.30pm).
Hartpury who won the BUCS title in 2008, 2009 and 2012 will be looking to bring it home for a fourth year after winning their semi-final against Loughborough, 31-14.
Nathan Taylor, who has captained UWE Hartpury through their campaign this year, said: “It was one of the best games we’ve played all year. Fair play to Loughborough they were a physical side but I believe that we matched them and overall we came out on top.
“It’s a great feeling to get to the final, it’s amazing. In the huddle after the semi-final the boys were buzzing. It’s going to be a tough week training but we can’t wait to get there. “
John Barnes, Head Coach at UWE Hartpury, is over the moon his side have made the final again: “Hartpury BUCS XV have had an excellent year to date, winning the South Premiership with only two losses away at Cardiff Met and Exeter.
“We’ve had several players represent international teams in England Students, Wales Students and Scotland U20s. “Many of the players have also stepped up and represented the Hartpury RFC team, who currently sit top of National 2 South.
“The semi-final win over a strong Loughborough side was a fitting way to make it to the final, for a team who have worked hard this year to reach that end goal of playing at Twickenham.
“Leeds Met will prove a tough test in the final but we’re keen to regain the BUCS Championship we last won in 2012.”
Leeds Metropolitan, who beat Exeter 42-18 in their semi-final, will be making their debut at Twickenham after reaching their first BUCS final since the competition's inception in 2008.
Will Cargill, Leeds Metropolitan captain, said: “The season started well with a good win at varsity. We had three early wins, which really kick-started our season and we started to play some enterprising rugby. What's noticeable about this team is the closeness and togetherness we have.
“Playing at Twickenham is going to be a great experience, one that I can't wait to share with this team. We are going to prepare well, we won't change anything that we do. It's important we stay focused and not let the occasion get to us.”
Leeds Met Director of Rugby, Colin Stephens, is also looking forward to the final: “After a couple of defeats to Nottingham and Northumbria we were up against finishing in the top four so to win the Northern Premier League and ultimately get to Twickenham is a fantastic achievement.
“It was a very tough game as you would expect for a BUCS semi-final and Exeter played at a fantastic pace. We lost our hooker with a serious knee injury and also had our number 8 put in the bin early on, which gave Exeter the momentum but we defended superbly well when down to 14 and to go in at 20-6 at half time we were confident.
“We started the second half strongly and scored two tries to take a 30-6 lead but then Exeter came back at us very hard and scored a try and a converted try to take the score to 30-18. Exeter had another period of pressure at this stage but once again the lads were outstanding in defence to not concede and we finished the game really strongly to run out eventual 42-18 winners.”
RFU Chairman Bill Beaumont whose son Josh, now of Sale Sharks, captained Durham University to a famous win over Cardiff Metropolitan in last year’s final spoke of his enthusiasm for the fixture: “Watching my son Josh lift the BUCS cup last year was a special moment for me and my family and one that I will never forget. This fixture really showcases exciting student rugby at its best.”
“The RFU are delighted to continue their support of Friday Night Lights and I would urge any rugby enthusiast to buy a ticket and come along for what will be an entertaining evening of free flowing rugby.”
This is the first year that the BUCS final is being played on a Friday night at Twickenham and it will be a great showcase for all universities involved.