Edinburgh University dominated the inaugural Spire Murrayfield Hospital Universities and Colleges Cup Finals at the sun-kissed celebration of rugby on Wednesday 25 March.
Over 500 rugby players descended on the six pitches of Broughton Rugby Club with over 40 teams entering six separate 15, seven and ten-a-side men’s and women’s cup competitions.
Player retention at the 17-24 age-band is a key Scottish Rugby objective with the new cup finals day being seen as the first of many events created to address the player drop out at that key age.
Universities, colleges, medical societies and the armed forces came together for the first time at varying levels of ability and experience. The more practiced individuals focused their efforts on the invitational tournament while more relaxed and fun rugby was played in the extremely popular intramural competitions.
Scottish Rugby’s development manager (17-24 year olds), Lindsey Booth, said: “We’ve chosen a series of one day tournament cups because it means you don’t have to play for the entire season, it’s 7-a-side, you can get together with your mates and play a whole load of rugby for one day at one big venue.
“It’s a party atmosphere and I think that really appeals to young people because it’s not a lot of pressure or a large commitment.”
Edinburgh University entered an impressive 15 teams in the competition. While their top sides took second place in the invitational Scottish Student Premier Cup and the 15-a-side BUCS Scottish Conference Cup Final, the numerous intramural sides came away with three trophies from the remaining four tournaments on the day.
Edinburgh University’s intramural sides Dutch Courage, Edinburgh Medics and RDVC Women’s won the Scottish Student Cup, Student Challenge Cup and Emerging Students Cup trophies respectively while Dundee University Women won the Scottish Student Cup.
Borders College were the day’s surprise package but, with several players coming from the College’s performance sport programme, it was no shock for the visitors who walked away with the invitational Scottish Student Premier Cup with five wins out of six.
The matches then came to a head for the well supported 15-a-side final which saw Glasgow Caledonian defeat Edinburgh University 24-7 to claim the BUCS Scottish Conference Cup.
Speaking at the event, head of community rugby, Colin Thomson, said: “This is a huge area of potential growth for us. A big drop-off area we have is when young people move from school and club rugby into university rugby.
“It’s much more than creating a University first XV, it’s about getting as many people playing as possible in universities and colleges and bringing them to events like this so that there’s a focus on an event that they all enjoy – and it’s good to see the young girls and guys having great fun out there.
“At an early age, young people play rugby because there’s a good team ethos, it’s a good social sport – there’s a real sense of community around what they do at that age.
“When they go to college or university they’re suddenly out of that peer group so this is about creating opportunities for them to continue to enjoy that peer atmosphere, socialise with new people, and stay and play the game – because beyond player participation, these are the people who will be the volunteers, club coaches and presidents of the future.”
The Spire Murrayfield Hospital Universities and Colleges Cup Winners:
- SMH Scottish Student Premier Cup Winners – Borders College
- SMH Scottish Student Cup Winners – Dutch Courage
- SMH Student Challenge Cup Winners – Edinburgh Medics
- SMH Scottish Student Cup Winners – Dundee University (W)
- SMH Emerging Students Cup Winners – RDVC (W)
- BUCS Scottish Conference Cup Winners – Glasgow Caledonian University