Students Staff

16 September 2016

University of Essex part of new national partnership with Rugby Football Union


The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is giving a huge endorsement to the tremendous work underway to develop rugby union at the University of Essex by choosing it as one of its strategic university partners.

The University of Essex is one of just 15 universities to be chosen to be part of the England Rugby partnership which will invest £220,000 into strengthening university rugby across the country over the next three years. Essex will be one of six universities to receive funding focused towards Rugby Sevens – one of its three high-performance sports.

Since 2015, the RFU has worked in a close partnership with the Students RFU (SRFU) and British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) to develop and deliver university partnerships with universities bidding competitively to be part of this latest national programme.

“The 15 selected partner institutions will be leading examples of universities who will provide a high level of commitment and a quality standard of rugby that will help enhance the experience for players of all abilities," said Mark Saltmarsh, Head of Education and Development at the RFU.

"Their commitment to this concept has been excellent and we can’t wait to get started with them. Our aim is that the new partnerships provide fantastic playing opportunities for students of all levels and abilities and further grow the game in the sector and the numbers of players continuing to play in rugby clubs when they leave.”

The University of Essex’s Director of Sport Dave Parry said: “Today’s exciting announcement that Essex has been selected as an England Rugby partner represents a tremendous endorsement of the hard work that is taking place to develop Rugby Union at the University. Staff across Essex Sport, including from the Sports Centre and the Students’ Union, as well as committee members from the student Rugby Union women’s and men’s clubs have all contributed to this outcome, which has come about following a selection process involving a series of presentations, interviews and meetings with England Rugby at Twickenham.

“We have been awarded £7,500 per year to develop participation in the fifteen-a-side Rugby Union game, as well as to increase participation in Rugby Sevens. We are one of just six universities to receive funding towards Rugby Sevens, a sport which made its Olympic Games debut in Rio this year, and this follows on from our decision to launch sevens as our third high-performance sport last year.

“We will be focussing on a programme of intra-mural rugby union, as well as launching a weekly ‘touch’ rugby session, which is the most accessible form of the game, and which will be open to anyone to attend. In addition, we will be staging two Rugby Sevens festivals in March next year, where will be attracting school, university and local clubs sides to compete at the University.

“Particularly pleasing is to be chosen by England Rugby as one of only 15 partner Universities. Essex is not regarded as being one of the traditional university homes for rugby, so, today’s announcement signifies our increasingly positive reputation for sport among governing bodies and the wider public.”

More about the Rugby Football Union partnership strategy


The 15 institutions will have a set of annual KPIs set against five areas:

  • Partnership delivery –ways of working together and general rules of engagement
  • Participation development – growing and maintaining participation levels in their rugby union programme
  • Men’s 15-a-side rugby aligned to a competition model for those participating teams
  • Sevens – both at a performance and recreational level linked to the England pathway
  • Women’s rugby – hubs providing support for players in the 15-a-side and Sevens programme

Women's Rugby Focus

The England Women’s rugby programme has identified the university sector as a key potential source of support for its elite and emerging elite players.

Working across six hub sites, the partnership will drive improvements in the women’s elite game through focused on support for talented players.

Sevens Strategy

There will also be six institutions focussing on Sevens.

The university sector has been highlighted in the RFU Strategy for Sevens as a significant contributor to the growth of sevens in terms of the engagement of more university students on a recreational basis as well as the identification, development and support of talented players within the England Sevens pathway.

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