December 15 2016
This week we are hosts to Hartpury College r.f.c. but don't be fooled by the College tag, as this is not a normal educational institute in the normal sense but rather the chosen name when they started to field a Saturday team in 2004. Four years earlier in 2000 a Hartpury College Rugby Academy was formed in partnership with Gloucester Rugby playing in the BUCS (university) league system.
And in 2004 they then started playing in the bottom rung of the R.F.U. league system and having lost their first game they then went another five more years before the next loss in 2009, gaining promotion to the National League One along the way, two years ago.
This has been achieved on the back of a £50 million investment in a 360 hectare campus with the aim of producing an equine and rugby centre of the highest international standard with more pitches and stables than you can shake a stick at.
The current D.O.R. John Barnes has been described as being in charge of the richest playground in English Rugby where the student based squad train four or five mornings weekly.
Being tied with Gloucester r.f.c. who train on one of the Hartpury pitches there are some d/r players, similar to the arrangement we have with Exeter Chiefs, as well as far as I can make out, a few more playes with senior rugby experience such as the skipper Rhys Oakley who was of course with us not very long ago.
So it would appear that we have an interesting test on our hands this coming weekend folks, with our visitors currently on a perfect start to the seaon of having got a five point haul from each of the fifteen games played so far, and I'm certain that their aim is to finish the season in the same vein, what an achievement that would be. And at this point of the season it will be a good benchmark for us I feel as we are capable of getting the result we want at this level as we showed last year and as we look going forward to build on our current position at Brickfields.