After a season of silverware and a strong promotion challenge by Manchester Met’s Men’s 1st XV in the 16-17 season, optimism is certainly high in the north-west that they can challenge for honours ahead of the new campaign.
The Manchester Met Men’s 1st XV, coached and directed by Rob Jones, almost capped off a wonderful 16-17 season by clinching a place in the BUCS Northern 1A for this term, unfortunately they narrowly missed out. This said the Rugby Union performance programme, which includes world class facilities, Manchester Met have in place for all three of their rugby teams highlights that they are not far off rubbing shoulders with the elite university rugby sides in the country.
The rapidly developing link with the Sale Sharks’ Academy is a great feather in their cap. Last season winger Paolo Odogwu was one of Manchester Met’s Sports scholars and this year the partnership with Carrington is even stronger. Rising star Luke James has joined Manchester Met to study Exercise and Sports Science alongside his fellow Sale Sharks players Connor Wilkinson (Sports Management) and Jack Beevers (Sport and Exercise Nutrition) all combining their studies with their time at Sale.
Like Manchester Met, Sale Sharks Academy is also heading in the right direction. Steve Diamond along with Brendan Thomas are helping young players progress into the first team set-up, but as an Academy Sale also provides educational support which is where the link with Manchester Met arises.
As well as the rugby pathways which Manchester Met offer, flexible dual career pathways is something the university is striving to achieve. The university is delivering world class educational programmes to players who are playing at a high level whilst allowing student athletes the time to balance training at the Academy and playing for Sale Jets alongside their studies - which the north-west club can keep a close eye on.
It is easy to see why Connor, Jack, Paolo and Luke chose to study at Manchester Met. The sporting offer it gives to players who want to combine a rugby career with education is something you associate with BUCS Super Rugby teams such as Hartpury College and Exeter whilst the facilities on offer are simply put world class. Just arriving at the Platt Lane Sports Complex to see the 1st XV go through a pre-season training session emphasised what the players have at their disposal.
Manchester Met is continually expanding its performance sport offer which includes the support of elite athletes through sport scholarships to enable them to fulfil academic and athletic potential. The rugby performance programme is one of the pioneers of this philosophy.