Director of Rugby, Keith Fleming
BUCS Super League Rugby
AFTER being handed the chance to play his university rugby in a newlook national competition and gain television exposure in the process; Exeter’s Simon Linsell is determined to grab the opportunity with both hands.
Linsell, who is the University of Exeter vice-captain and is studying Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, has been handed the honour of leading University of Exeter out in a new national league, which will see the eight strongest university teams go head-to-head.
The aim is to recreate the buzz, excitement and interest reserved for the annual Oxford versus Cambridge fixture at Twickenham in December on a weekly basis throughout the BUCS programme.
Joining Exeter University in the competition is Bath, Leeds Beckett Carnegie, Hartpury, Loughborough, Durham, Northumbria and Cardiff Met, with the new league set to launch in October.
BUCS Super Rugby will be the pinnacle of higher education sport, showcasing the highest quality student rugby in the world, with the action also broadcast on BT Sport.
“I’m really excited, it’s an unprecedented competition format for university in the country and we’re really excited to playing tough games every week,” said Linsell.
“We’re playing the best in the country and hopefully we can make the best out of the first time that’s happened.
“Pre-season has been going really well, the team is looking strong and everyone’s been working hard. We’re all really excited to get going and hopefully we can make the most of it.
“Every team is strong and we’ll be looking at every single game as a knockout match, they’re a must-win and you can’t pick one out from the bunch this year, they’re all really strong contenders.
“I’m very proud to be helping out the captain, I’m really looking forward to seeing what I can do and it’s nice to be able to have that role.”
Linsell attended the Twickenham launch of the new competition last week, where he rubbed shoulders with the coaches and captains of the seven other competing teams.
The university representatives took part in a pitch side press conference, walked the hallowed turf at Twickenham and also experienced the changing rooms and tunnel.
For Linsell it was a special experience but the Exeter star, who admits he knows little about some of the other sides in the competition, is desperate to now make his mark on the pitch for Exeter University.
The talking has now been completed and it’s about the performances on the field; that’s according to Linsell.
“A massive thanks needs to go out to the athletics union at Exeter, they do a lot of good work for us and help us out a lot, and without them we’d be really struggling, far away from where we are presently,” added Linsell.
“I’m really excited to be able to launch BUCS Super League at Twickenham, just looking at the pitch makes you realise that it’s a hell of a place full of memories, and hopefully we can add to those memories in the future.
“It’s really exciting having that emphasis on university rugby, there is some high-quality sport being played by the sides and hopefully this Super Rugby format will give that more exposure and can open up the idea of rugby going beyond the Premiership and Championship.
“Having televised matches will be a really good step, giving the sides the exposure and showcasing to people who wouldn’t normally know what’s happening.
“Some university rugby players are some of the best around and hopefully people will be able to see that.
“BUCS and the RFU have worked really hard side by side to make this vision come true, and it wouldn’t have happened without them, so there’s a lot to thank them for making this a reality.
“We’re really looking forward to Loughborough away, it’s a repeat of last year’s final and it’s going to be an incredible match which we can’t wait for.
“The boys have put in a lot of work over pre-season, and for that to be the first game will give us a really good benchmark for what we have to come.”
BUCS Super Rugby is a new national league, bringing together the eight best men’s university rugby teams in the country. The league is run by British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) and powered by Rugby Vertical. For more info visit www.bucs.org.uk/superrugby
Date: 19 September 2016