Leading rugby clubs team up to help students play at the highest level
Students in Gloucestershire will have more opportunity to play at the highest level thanks to the coming together of two top rugby teams.
Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC and Cheltenham Tigers Women’s RFC have agreed to work together to provide a pathway for girls and women, including students at Hartpury, to gain more opportunities to play rugby at a high level with both clubs when sport restarts after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The partnership aims to enable students to develop and practice specialist skills and knowledge related to their areas of study across a range of Hartpury’s sports diplomas and degrees, including sports performance and training, and strength and conditioning.
Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC – a partnership between Hartpury University and Hartpury College and Gloucester Rugby – compete at the highest level in the women’s club game in England, the Women’s Premiership.
Many past and present members of the Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC squad are current or former Hartpury students who have gained international caps, including England World Cup winner Natasha Hunt, Kelly Smith, Zoe Aldcroft and Tatyana Heard.
Cheltenham Tigers Women’s RFC, based at Newlands Park in Cheltenham, are one of the top clubs in Championship 1 League North, one level down from the Premiership in the women’s rugby pyramid.
Sean Lynn, head of women’s rugby at Hartpury and head coach of Gloucester-Hartpury Women’s RFC, said: “Our new partnership with Cheltenham Tigers Women’s RFC is a really exciting development for both clubs and we’re confident that it’s going to be a big success.
“It will provide women and girls, including our students, with opportunities to play rugby at a high level and help to support the continuing growth of women’s rugby in Gloucestershire.
“The new partnership will provide players with access to the very latest coaching methods and the state-of-the art training facilities at Hartpury, which will further enhance their prospects of playing in the premiership.
“We will also work with Cheltenham Tigers Women’s RFC off the field in areas such as coaching and analysis, which will provide our students studying diplomas and degrees in those subject areas with a great opportunity to work closely with a high-level rugby club and gain real-world experience.”
Bee Mocellin, head of women’s and girls’ rugby at Cheltenham Tigers, said: “Cheltenham Tigers Women, established in 1989, was one of the first women's club rugby teams in England.
“Initially forming as a group of women looking to have fun and stay active, the club has gone from strength to strength ever since.
“We are enormously proud of our history, and in particular how it has helped shape us as a family both on and off the pitch.
“We strive to be better people as well as rugby players and our family culture is our DNA and central to everything we achieve on and off the pitch.
'With the evolution of women’s rugby, it seemed only natural to partner with a Premiership team, creating a fluid pathway for players to develop across all levels.
“Our partnership with Gloucester-Hartpury promises much more than that, though, and what excites me most is the shared desire to strengthen rugby in the community, essentially giving more girls and women more opportunities in rugby.”
Rugby students at Hartpury – which bills itself as one of the world’s leading sports education institutions – have access to a range of world class-facilities.
Hartpury’s new £8.8 million Sports Academy includes a including a biomechanics laboratory, a rehabilitation suite featuring an anti-gravity treadmill, and a human performance laboratory with an altitude chamber, and a sports hall.
As well as running Hartpury University RFC – the only student-led team in men’s rugby’s Greene King Championship – Hartpury is the training centre for Gloucester Rugby and has strong relationships with England Rugby, Cheltenham Town Football Club, Bristol Rovers Football Club, GB Rowing, Exeter City Football Club, Pentathlon GB and Olympic champion equestrian coaches and athletes.
As a ‘dual career accredited site, Hartpury delivers core services to support student athletes as a Talented Athlete Centre through the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS).
Hartpury has also become the first university in the UK to gain re-accreditation for its Elite status within the UKAD Clean Sport Accreditation.