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Bishop Burton College Rugby Academy wins England Colleges RFU National Cup

9 May 2024

Bishop Burton College are celebrating after becoming national champions in the England Colleges Rugby Football Union (ECRFU) National Cup. 

Blind side flanker Thomas Hawes

The college’s Rugby Academy Development XV team beat Exeter College 37-34 in an exciting final. 

The team, who are aged between 16 and 18 are rising stars within the college’s Academy Colleges and Education (ACE) Rugby Union performance academy. All players work with Bishop Burton’s expert team of coaches to develop and hone their game, according to an RFU pathway development programme, to transition from academy standard rugby into the professional game. 

The ECRFU National Cup is a prestigious tournament, which saw the team competing against the best players at this level in the UK. Bishop Burton’s Head of ACE Boys Rugby, Evan Woodward commented “The Development XV’s performance in this heart-pounding final was a stunning display of determination and teamwork. This fantastic win, in such a significant, national competition, is a testament to their commitment to the game, which was rewarded by them emerging triumphant, with this well-deserved victory.”  

Exeter College proved worthy adversaries for the team, resulting in a nail-biting match with both teams battling for supremacy. Several of the Development XV players distinguished themselves during the match. Notably, Harry Murphy won a penalty turnover, enabling Dan Mathew to kick over a 3-point penalty to clinch the game.

Coach Tony Penn said “The team should be incredibly proud of their performance, playing against some of the best athletes of their level in the country. They displayed excellent skills throughout and played with a fantastic attitude.” 

Fellow coach Pete Hudson, who plays semi-professionally for Hull RFUC and is a former University Centre Bishop Burton student echoed this sentiment “It’s so rewarding as a coach to see their resilience, perseverance and unwavering determination to succeed, realised with such an amazing win. We are incredibly proud of them and can’t wait to see what they accomplish next!”

The win is just the latest in a number of sporting successes for the college’s rugby performance academy. Fellow ACE players recently reached the final of the AOC Sport Premiership Final, showcasing the elite level of playing at the college. 

Director of Rugby Mike Umaga commented “This triumph is an absolutely fantastic achievement for the ACE performance academy. I am incredibly proud of both the players and coaching team, who secured a very well-deserved victory in the wake of lots of hard work and dedication. To win at a national scale is impressive and it’s wonderful to see Bishop Burton players recognised as amongst the best in the country.” 

To find out more about the Sports Academies please visit

Full back Dan mathew
Number 8 Calum Heritage