New University structure in place
The University Rugby League Competition framework has undergone a comprehensive review during the off season.
The RFL have been working closely with British University and Colleges Sport (BUCS) and the Student Rugby League Board to improve the current competition structure and create a framework that allows the game to grow nationally.
The BUCS University Rugby League Competition was presented to the BUCS competitions group – a representative group of Directors of Sport and Sports Managers from all regions around the country, for feedback.
James Szymik, FE/HE Manager at the RFL, said: “University Rugby League is one of the areas of game that still has a great potential for growth. The university competition is truly national but Rugby League is still only played in 51 Higher Educational (HE) Institutes.’’
“We reviewed the feedback from the competitions group and built insight from a number of institutes to understand how we could improve the structure.”
As a result, a new competition structure was created; the Super 6 is replaced with two Premier divisions of six teams, Premier North and Premier South. The former Premier South, Midlands and North divisions have been replaced by four ‘Tier one’ divisions and the lower regional leagues have been replaced by four “Tier two” regional leagues.
This structure has a number of strategic benefits. The new framework aligns better to other BUCS sports which will not only allow universities to easily understand Rugby League but it means there is a fairer and more attractive distribution of BUCS points available. In the previous structure BUCS points were available to the Super 6 and Premier tiers only.
Szymik said: “With the majority of universities prioritising funding to BUCS sports, the new structure means Rugby League is an attractive offer at all levels from the Premier right down to the Tier Two regional leagues, this will help dramatically when promoting the game in universities who do not currently engage in Rugby League activity.”
Feedback from the competitions group also suggested that a national competition was no longer feasible. With the high cost and long distances associated with travel, national competitions were only feasible for a small number of institutes.
‘’The university landscape is changing,” said Szymik.
“With higher tuition fees a greater focus is being placed on academia and with an increasing number of lectures taking place on Wednesday mornings it is not always feasible for students to travel long distances to play.
“With a more regionalised structure it allows every club the opportunity to develop and progress to compete at the top level of the competition without the expense and burden of travelling long distances.
“As part of the new Whole Sport Plan funding cycle, the RFL’s community department now has a dedicated Education team whose remit includes the university sector.
We are currently developing our wider offer for Higher Education Rugby League, which includes areas such as club development resources, coaching development, placement and volunteering opportunities and support for clubs with marketing and recruitment campaigns.”
“The development of this offer and the new competition framework will allow us to really focus on developing our existing clubs and growing the sport.”
The 2013/14 BUCS Rugby League competition kicked off on Wednesday October 16.
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