Exeter seal BUCS Super Rugby league title as focus begins to shift towards the play-offs

The silverware keeps coming for Exeter but the BUCS Super Rugby league and cup double is the ultimate goal

The past week in university rugby has been a significant one with both the BUCS Super Rugby and Women’s National League champions now confirmed, whilst the race below for the home knockout ties is heating up.

BUCS Super Rugby 

Exeter University welcomed Cardiff Met University knowing that they were a bonus point win and a Hartpury University loss away from becoming league champions.

This game also saw the return of winger Zack Wimbush who has massively impressed in an Exeter Chiefs shirt in recent weeks.

Before their defeat to Harptury last Wednesday, Cardiff Met had been on a fine run of form, and their resilience was obvious in the opening stages as they went into half-time only 7-0 down.

However, just as they have done all season, Exeter proved too strong for their opposition and despite less than ideal conditions, second-half tries from Louie Gulley, Archie Owlett and Jake Murray were enough to secure a 26-7 win.

All Exeter eyes turned towards the Midlands, to see the result of Loughborough University’s clash against Hartpury University.

The hosts and 2023 league champions have been inconsistent this year. They have shown their quality in parts, including a historic 95-8 win over Swansea, but have also struggled to find any real form

But this felt like a statement performance from the African Violet, as they stormed to a 27-0 victory and whitewashed a side that has averaged over 32 points per game this season.

It was also a result that meant the league title would leave Loughborough and head south, as Exeter University secured the domestic trophy for the first time since 2019.

The Devonian’s dominance continues and they will now look to win their third National Championship in a row and achieve the sought-after league and cup double.

Elsewhere, a thriller played out between Nottingham University and Bath University, with the Blue and Gold looking to nudge themselves into the top four with a win, whilst the Midlands institution were keen to build on their recent good form as they aim to avoid finishing the season rock bottom.

The two teams went blow for blow in the first half, with Bath heading into the break two points to the good.

The second half continued in a similar fashion, and it was only a last-ditch try that could separate the sides, as a 75th-minute score saw Bath eventually come out as 33-29 winners.

This triumph sees them leapfrog Cardiff Met University and they now sit in fifth place and five points outside the coveted home quarter-final positions.

Durham University headed to the Welsh capital to take on a Cardiff University side who had only managed one win from their last eight BSR fixtures.

Durham (3rd) were playing away from Hollow Drift for the first time since January and were looking to avenge the loss they suffered in Cardiff last year. They were slow to start but eventually did enough to earn a 16-10 win which puts them one point behind Hartpury who are still in second place.

The race for the last playoff spot is heating up, as Cardiff University’s bonus point from Wednesday - along with the two earned by Nottingham - puts them level on points with each other.

The two sides go head to head next week, with the winner all but securing their spot in the next stage of this enthralling BSR season.

One side who hasn’t had much to shout about this term is Swansea University, and they needed a win in Round 16 to have any hope of earning the last playoff place.

Leeds Beckett University, who have had somewhat of a resurgent season, proved too strong for the Swans, and a 22-7 win means they will finish the term in seventh spot  - a dramatic improvement from their 10th placed finish of 2022/23.

Women’s National League

Despite Hartpury University being crowned champions last week, it was all still to play for elsewhere in the WNL.

Exeter University, who were coming off a defeat to Loughborough last week, travelled to the Welsh capital to take on Cardiff University.

An impressive attacking display from last year’s finalists earned them an important 52-12 victory, a result that puts them into third place ahead of their final league fixture against Edinburgh at Sandy Park next week.

Durham University have found life in the WNL hard this season - conceding 233 points in their last three fixtures - and prior to this week, they had not won a game since round four which was back in October.

They welcomed Edinburgh University across the border, and a monumental performance from the hosts meant they finished the 80 minutes with a narrow 43-41 win, in what was undoubtedly their best display of the campaign.

It is a result that also means the Scots will finish the season in fifth spot.

Loughborough University have beaten both of last year’s finalists in recent weeks, so they welcomed Cardiff Met University in good spirits.

They showed their quality once more as they continued their fine form to win 54-20 in their final match of the season, putting them in second place and one point ahead of Exeter who still have a game in hand.

The result for Cardiff Met puts them four points behind Exeter with a game to go, and the Welsh side will need Edinburgh to do them a favour next week against the Devonian institution if they are to finish in the top three.