The long-established partnership between Nottingham Rugby and Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has, this season, once again continued to provide an outstanding pathway to playing professional rugby in England. Thirteen current or former students are playing in The Championship, England’s second professional league as part of Nottingham Rugby’s squad.
Making the step up playing in their first season at Championship level this year have been 2nd year student Jay Ecclesfield and final year student Liam Bishop, both been selected for several match day squads with Eccelesfield making six appearances in the backrow for the green and white’s after turning 19 years old this year.
Ecclesfield and Bishop join existing Nottingham squad members Scott Hall, Jacob Wright, George Cox, David Williams, Harry Graham, Callum Allen and Sebastian Ferreria who are all still studying or recently graduated from NTU’s Performance Rugby program. Cox and Williams both were recently awarded Nottingham Rugby’s players of the season by their teammates at the end of season awards with Williams being one of the top try scorers in The Championship.
Not only has the partnership yielded playing opportunities for NTU students/graduates but coaching pathways as well with Nottingham Rugby Club Captain and former NTU 1st XV captain, Josh Poullet and Archers scrum half, Michael Stronge both coaching the NTU Performance squad for the 22/23 season and will continue into next year.
Further evidence of the annual progression of players through the pathway from university rugby to the top tiers of rugby in England is Nottingham’s signings of 3rd year student Ronnie Du Randt and first year Ellis Mee, both of whom will join Nottingham Rugby for the 23/24 season.
Nottingham Rugby assistant Coach and Head of Rugby at NTU, David Ross, reflected on the partnership and the recent signings: “We believe that our pathway is amongst the best in the UK at transitioning players from university rugby through to the Championship and beyond and you only have to look at the numbers of current/former NTU students in Nottingham’s squad as evidence of this. This pathway was forged long before I arrived with Neil Fowkes and Alex O’Dowd bringing a significant number of players through to play in The Championship and I am delighted to be able to continue the trend with the recent signings of Jay, Ronnie and Ellis. All three players narrowly missed out on premiership academy contracts and decided to study at NTU and pursue their rugby careers with us and have earned their chance to step up, which is testament to their hard work but also the effectiveness of our programme at NTU. Thank you must go to the coaches and support staff at the university for helping the players get into contention for signing Championship contracts.
All aspiring players should strongly consider joining NTU for the opportunities we offer it’s students to be attached to a Championship club and at the same time study for their degree.”
For more information on the Nottingham Rugby/NTU Rugby partnership, please contact David Ross, Head of Rugby/Assistant Coach: David.firstname.lastname@example.org