Student Rugby League

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The Student Rugby League is the organisation which administrates university and college Rugby League in the United Kingdom, on behalf of the Rugby Football League and BUCS.

Rugby league in universities has been an important vehicle for expansion of the game as players from outside the heartlands often first began to play at university level. Many continue to play after leaving university and this has led to the creation of teams in non-traditional areas such as London Skolars and the University of Gloucestershire All Golds.

Yorkshire Universities and Colleges played against Lancashire at Halifax RLFC in 1976. The Yorkshire side was selected by Fred Lindop, coach and professional referee and included a number of players from Airedale & Wharfedale College. 22 - 0 down at half time the Yorkshire side fought back to tie the match at 22 - 22.


Founded in 1967 when a team was created at Leeds University by Andrew Cudbertson, Jack Abernathy and Cec Thompson, other teams soon joined in areas of the United Kingdom which lay outside of the games traditional heartlands. The first university game was between Leeds and Liverpool in 1968. A year later the Universities and Colleges Rugby League was formed after student pioneers fought hard to get the sport recognised in higher education. Portsmouth and Swansea were early non-traditional areas to accept the game.

Rugby League reached Oxford University in 1976 and the first Varsity fixture against Cambridge University took place in 1981. The varsity match has 'discretionary full blue' status.

Student Rugby League reached Scotland in 1989 when a group of students at Aberdeen University established a team and formed the first Scotland Students squad

The Pioneers were formed in 2005 and made their inaugural tour that year to Estonia. In the following years, development tours visited the Czech Republic, Latvia, Ukraine, Norway, Kazakhstan, Greece, Poland, Morocco and in 2014, to Ghana.

By 2006, the Student Rugby League had over 70 member clubs playing in 9 leagues, club locations ranging from Napier in Scotland to Exeter in the South West of England.

The elite Premier North & South competition was formed as the Super 6 in 2008.

Student Rugby League Pyramid[edit]

  • Premier North & Premier South
  • Northern 1, 2A & 2B; Midlands 1 & 2; South East 1; Western 1 & 2
  • HE Merit League

The Premier North & South competition is the elite student league. Five matches from the 2011 Super 8 including the inaugural Grand Final were televised live and free-to-view on Premier Sports. The BUCS Competition is split into nine playing leagues with the Premier North and the Premier South being supported by seven regional leagues. The fixtures run from October until March leading up to the Championship play-off series.

The U19’s College Competition is split into three leagues, the North West, Yorkshire and the Premier Division. The College leagues play from September until March culminating in a top four play-off series. The Carnegie Champion Colleges is the knock-out competition for the Further Education sector.

Alongside SRL competitions, the top university sides can qualify for the Challenge Cup.

Past Winners[edit]

Year Super 8 Premier North Premier South Northern 1A Northern 2A Northern 2B Midlands 1A Midlands 2A South East 1A Western 1A Western 2A
2007-08 N/A Leeds Metropolitan University Loughborough University Edinburgh Napier University Bangor University Leeds Metropolitan University 'A' Nottingham University Lincoln University N/A N/A University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
2008-09 Leeds Metropolitan University Edge Hill University University of Wales Institute, Cardiff Northumbria University 'A' Bangor University Leeds University Cambridge University Coventry University Oxford Brookes University N/A University of Gloucestershire
2009-10 Loughborough University University of Central Lancashire Loughborough University 'A' Leeds Trinity University Liverpool University York St Johns University Sheffield Hallam University Loughborough University 'B' Oxford Brookes University N/A Glamorgan University
2010-11 Leeds Metropolitan University Newcastle University Exeter University Northumbria University 'A' University of Salford Newcastle University 'A' Nottingham Trent University Coventry University Exeter University 'A' N/A University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
2011-12 Leeds Metropolitan University Leeds Metropolitan University 'A' Exeter University Northumbria University 'A' Manchester Metropolitan University Leeds Trinity University Coventry University N/A Oxford Brookes University University of the West of England Bath University
2012-13 University of Gloucestershire Newcastle University Cardiff Metropolitan University Northumbria University 'A' Manchester Metropolitan University Sheffield University Nottingham Trent University 'A' N/A Brunel University South Gloucestershire & Stroud College University of Gloucestershire 'A'
2013-14 N/A Leeds Metropolitan University Loughborough University Sheffield Hallam University Manchester University Leeds University Nottingham University Warwick University Cambridge University Exeter University Swansea University
2014-15 N/A Leeds Beckett University Loughborough University Manchester Metropolitan University University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) York St John University Coventry University Oxford Brookes University Brunel University Swansea University N/A

Representative teams[edit]

Regional and 4 Nations Championships that take place annually and form the basis of the Great Britain and Ireland Academic Lions squad. This squad takes on the Australian Universities and competes for the Academic Ashes.

The 'GB Pioneers' are a representative team that undertake rugby league development tours to emerging nations.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]