University of Bath topple Exeter to send title race to the wire

Will Butt was part of the University of Bath side which beat Exeter
©Patrick Khachfe/Onside Images

The domestic title battle in BUCS Super Rugby remains alive after the University of Bath produced an outstanding performance to beat league leaders, the University of Exeter.

Aaron James’ side scored five tries at Topsham to ensure the victory and it means Bath are only four points off the top heading into the final round of fixtures next week.

Third-placed Hartpury are also still in the hunt as their win over Cardiff Met University means they are seven points behind Exeter, but Sean Lynn’s side have two games left to play.

Elsewhere in BUCS Super Rugby, Cardiff University strengthened their play-off position after coming out on top against Loughborough University while Leeds Beckett University’s good form continued against Durham University and Nottingham Trent University’s hopes of avoiding relegation were enhanced after narrowly beating Northumbria University at Lady Bay.

Below is a full round-up from another fascinating week of BUCS Super Rugby action plus, we review the last 16 of the BUCS Vase as well as some of the other top divisions in the country.

BUCS Super Rugby

University of Exeter 21-34 University of Bath

The University of Bath kept the BUCS Super Rugby domestic title race alive following a superb victory over league leaders Exeter at Topsham.

Ed Rimmer and Will Partington both crossed the line for Bath as the visitors scored five tries in total during an impressive display.

Exeter’s only score in the first period came through Olly White, with Rory McMeikan and Matt Johnson adding further tries for Keith Fleming’s side in the second-half.

After back to back defeats for the table toppers, they are now only four points clear of second-placed Bath ahead of next week’s final round of fixtures when Exeter host Cardiff University and Bath entertain Loughborough University.

Cardiff Met University 24-30 Hartpury University

Hartpury University still have a chance of clinching the BUCS Super Rugby league title after a narrow victory over Cardiff Met.

A penalty and a score from Hartpury put the away side 10-5 up at the break, with Harvey Scott replying for Met.

Luke Northmore levelled the game, but three unanswered tries and another penalty put Hartpury 30-10 ahead with a quarter of the match remaining.

Harry Johnston converted his own try to reduce the deficit and Danny Milton’s side were able to salvage two bonus-points when Jack Wright crossed late on.

Hartpury’s victory means they sit seven points behind Exeter, but they do have a game in hand over the league leaders while Met’s top four place is still not confirmed.

Durham University 7-13 Leeds Beckett University

Leeds Beckett University extended their unbeaten run to seven matches to stay in the conversation for a top four finish as they secured a victory over Durham University.

A try and two penalties gave the visitors a 13-0 lead at the interval in the North-East.

The hosts scored their only points after the break through a Luke Chadwick try, but in a very physical contest, Durham couldn’t add to their tally as Beckett’s excellent form continued.

Both sides still have two domestic games left to play and Kerry Wood’s men are now just four points behind fourth-placed Cardiff Met while Durham remain in fifth spot.

Nottingham Trent University 43-41 Northumbria University

Nottingham Trent University overcame Northumbria University to keep their hopes of moving out of the relegation zone alive.

They led through a Will Sutton try and a penalty, but Northumbria were able to cut their advantage to 8-5 with a score of their own.

However, touchdowns for Harry Clempson, Sutton, Cecil MacCarthy and Alex Goble gave Trent a 36-10 lead at the break, with the away side also adding to their total.

Both teams exchanged tries after the interval, with Harry Graham crossing for Trent, but Northumbria then mounted a fightback.

Darren Fearn’s men scored four tries to cut the lead to two points, but the home side clung on valiantly to seal a dramatic win.

Trent are now seven points behind ninth-placed Loughborough, with two games remaining in their season.

Loughborough University 24-26 Cardiff University

Cardiff University held off a spirited fightback as they beat Loughborough University to take a huge step towards the BUCS Super Rugby play-offs.

The visitors led at the break thanks to tries from Huw Roberts, James Jennings and George Thomas (2) as they took advantage of Loughborough’s indiscipline.

Austin Wallis scored Loughborough’s only points in the first period, but hosts clicked into gear in the second 40.

Sam Garvey, Max Hill and Jamie Cox all crossed to set-up a grandstand finish in the Midlands, but Cardiff held on for a crucial victory.

The Welsh side are now four points clear of Loughborough so if Cardiff pick up one point or more from their final fixture against Exeter next week, they will be competing in the play-offs in their debut BUCS Super Rugby season.


Cardiff University Head Coach Alun Wyn Davies: “It was massive. In this league, it is very difficult to go on the road and win so the guys deserved that tonight. We’ve had a few close shaves like the Northumbria game so I am chuffed for them.

“I’ll be shot for saying this, but we’re massively underfunded in comparison to other universities, but what we have got as a group has been fantastic. Our clear aim was to come up and stay up, but as a result of how we have played, we are looking like we are in eighth which is fantastic.”

“We always say we want to row our own boat and control our own destiny. By winning, we have done that.”

Man of the Match George Thomas: “I’m happy with the two finishes in the first-half, but it was a hell of a performance from the boys. We were clinical when we needed to be.

“It is a great spirit. First half of the season, we probably wouldn’t have been able to hold this game out because we lacked experience in the [BUCS] Super League, but as the season has gone on we have gelled, we’ve come into it and I think today showed how far we have come.”

Elsewhere across BUCS

Premier North – Women’s

Newly crowed Premier North champions Durham University finished the domestic season with a perfect record as they clinched their 10th straight victory by beating the University of Edinburgh 17-7. The only other fixture in the division saw Loughborough University defeat Northumbria University 27-14.

Premier South – Women’s

The University of Exeter have won the Premier South title after thumping Swansea University 76-0. Jo Yapp’s side are nine points clear of second-placed Hartpury with one game to go and despite the Gloucestershire outfit beating the University of Bristol 28-22, the league crown is going to Devon.

Elsewhere, Cardiff Met University thrashed Oxford University 66-0.


With both North A and South A concluding last week, the BUCS Vase competition began on Wednesday.

North A champions and BUCS Super Rugby play-off contenders Newcastle University continued their fine form as they beat UWE 71-7 to progress to next week’s quarter-finals. The University of Nottingham also advanced with a 37-12 win over Cardiff Met 2nds while the University of Edinburgh beat Bath 2nds 35-15.

From South A, Swansea University are through after defeating Loughborough 2nds 47-21 while champions Hartpury 2nds won 32-22 against Bishop Burton College.

Meanwhile, the University of Bristol beat Durham 2nds 16-13, Exeter 2nds triumphed 31-22 away at the University of Birmingham and the University of South Wales got the better of the University of Leeds as they won 57-12.

Quarter-Final Draw: Newcastle v Bristol, Swansea v Nottingham, Hartpury 2nds v Edinburgh and Exeter 2nds v USW.

North B

The University of Glasgow moved to within two points of North B leaders the University of Sheffield after a 38-7 win over Durham University. The Scottish outfit also have a game in hand so their fate is in their own hands. Elsewhere, Leeds Beckett 2nds can still mathematically win the title after they hammered the University of Strathclyde 56-29 whilst the University of Manchester secured a win over the University of Sterling.

South B

Exeter 3rds inflicted a first defeat of the season on St Mary’s University to keep their hopes of snatching the South B title alive. The Green and Whites won 35-34 in a thriller and now they are two points clear at the summit.

However, Exeter have completed all of their matches this term while St Mary’s have two games in hand so the second-placed side are still favourites to win the league. Meanwhile in South B, Cardiff 2nds beat Hartpury 3rds 19-14 and Cardiff Met 3rds took a huge step towards safety following a 28-23 victory away at the University of Portsmouth.

Northern 1A

The University of Liverpool remain at the summit of Northern 1A after a crucial 21-10 win over title rivals Newcastle 2nds. Their lead at the top is three points as Manchester Met moved into second place after thrashing the University of Hull 69-0. Rob Jones’ side also have a game in hand over Liverpool and they have to play the Merseysiders before the end of the campaign.

Elsewhere, Newcastle 3rds lost 47-31 to Durham 4ths.

Northern 2A and 2B

Keele University remain on course for the Northern 2A title after beating Manchester 2nds 41-12 on Wednesday, but Sheffield Hallam University are still in pursuit as they secured a 21-15 victory over Lancaster University. Meanwhile, Liverpool 2nds defeated already relegated UCLAN 47-17.

In Northern 2B, champions Northumbria 2nds finished their season with a second defeat on the spin as they lost 18-13 away at the University of York.  Elsewhere, Sheffield 2nds beat Leeds Beckett 4ths 35-19.

Northern 3A and 3B

Liverpool John Moores University have won Northern 3A with a 100 per cent record after beating Bangor University 48-7. LJM won all 10 of their domestic matches on route to sealing the title.

Second-placed the University of Chester have secured a top two finish after defeating Manchester Met 2nds 33-22 while Liverpool 3rds won 32-10 against Edge Hill University.

In Northern 3B, York St John University were able to clinch the league title as they beat rivals the University of Huddersfield in their final league match of the season. Leeds 3rds will finish in the top three despite losing 41-5 to Sheffield Hallam 2nds while York 2nds won 17-15 against Newcastle 4ths.

Midlands 1A and 2A

In Midlands 1A, the title was decided this week as the University of Leicester cliched top spot for the second season running after hammering Oxford Brookes University 50-20.

The other reason why they have been crowned champions is because rivals the University of Warwick had to settle for a 27-27 draw with Loughborough 3rds. Elsewhere, Harper Adams University completed their campaign with a 33-16 win over Nottingham Trent 2nds.

Midlands 2A champions the University of East Anglia beat Nottingham 3rds 38-24 to finish the season with a 100 per cent record and Nottingham Trent 3rds won 28-24 against Coventry University.