League champions Loughborough off the mark with battling win over Nottingham

The African Violet got the defence of their league title underway with a victory
©BUCS Super Rugby

After an absorbing 2022/2023 season, BUCS Super Rugby has made its return, with the first round of fixtures setting the tone for what should be another memorable campaign.

The live-streamed fixture this week saw last year’s League Champions Loughborough University travel to Highfield to take on Nottingham University in a Midlands Derby.

Last year’s top try scorer for the hosts, Conor Moyse, intercepted a wayward Loughborough pass and ran from his own 22 to open the scoring before the visitors hit back with a try from Jenson Mcinulty and a further three points.

Nottingham regained their lead through a well-worked score from Will Bailey, taking them into half-time with a 12-10 advantage.

Despite being a man down for 10 minutes in the second half and conceding a third try, a double from Chris Preen saw the African Violet take home all four points, with a thrilling game ending 27-20 to Loughborough.

Exeter University, who are looking to achieve a BUCS Super Rugby three-peat, opened their season with a 36-33 win against Hartpury University in what can only be described as a game of two halves.

In true Devonian fashion, both sides were met with a strong wind, and it was Exeter who had it at their backs in the first half. Some free-flowing attacking rugby saw them go into the break with a dominant 31-7 lead, with Benjy Joseland, Chester Ribbons, Kian Gentry, Orson James, and Seb Driscoll all getting on the scoresheet.

Hartpury came flying out the blocks in the second half to rack up 19 unanswered points to make it a one score game. However, the home side were resilient in defence and managed to hold on to start their season with five points.

Elsewhere, Durham University edged to a 16-12 win over Bath University, in what was another win for the Palatinate at their home ground Hollow Drift.

With Durham and Bath finishing in 3rd and 4th place respectively last season, this was bound to be a close, cagey affair, and with only three tries in the game, it was an uncharacteristically low-scoring BUCS Super Rugby fixture.

The introductory all-Welsh clash of the year saw Swansea University play host to Cardiff Met University, with the visitors coming out on top.

The first 40 minutes was as close as you would expect in a rivalry this fierce, and Swansea led 5-3 at the break.

However, an emphatic second-half performance from Cardiff Met saw them score four tries and leave the West Coast with a 34-12 victory under their belts.

Less than 50 miles away in the Welsh capital, Cardiff University took on Leeds Beckett University.

Leeds Beckett finished bottom of the pile last year, but managed to keep their place in BUCS Super Rugby by beating Brunel University 23-17 in the BSR play-off.

The visitors, who are looking to recapture their 2017-2020 form, put in a valiant effort, but tries from Aled Rees, Alex Salah and George Shaw were enough for Cardiff University to secure a 22-19 win.

Women’s National League

The opening week of the Women’s National League involved only one game, with Cardiff Met University travelling to the Scottish Capital.

The Welsh side, who were knocked out in the semis by eventual winners Gloucester-Hartpury last year, stormed into a 22-0 lead at half-time against Edinburgh University.

The second half was just as emphatic, as Cardiff Met cruised to a 46-12 win to get their season off to the perfect start.