Brooksby Melton College have defeated nine-time AASE League-winners Hartpury College to secure their highest-ever position in the national competition.
The Leicestershire college are Tigers’ partners for the Academic and Sporting Excellence (AASE) League, which sees 14 sides from across the UK – each paired with a professional side – pitted against one another in a hotly-contested development tournament.
And, after Tuesday’s 17-14 victory in the third-place play-off against the Gloucester Rugby-affiliated side at Leicester Forest RFC, Brooksby also secured the honour of highest-placed team from the competition’s northern conference.
Hartpury have secured the AASE title in nine of the league’s 10 seasons to date, with Exeter College (2016) the last side to break that streak. Bath Rugby partners Beechen Cliff and London Irish’s St Paul’s Catholic College face each other in the final at Allianz Park on Wednesday.
The core of BMC’s team is made up of 12 Tigers Academy prospects, with the partnership between club and college continuing to grow from strength to strength.
Just five players were enrolled to the programme in 2014, compared to 60 AASE players and a further 13 community development players involved this season.
Since partnering with Tigers in 2017, the course has helped produce eight age-grade internationals, with five products of the programme coming through the club’s academy ranks to form part of the Tigers development squad in 2019/20 in the form of Keston Lines, Taylor Gough, Henri Lavin, George Martin and Leo Gilliland.
Tom Harrison is part of both the BMC and Tigers Academy coaching teams, and said: “This result is a huge achievement for these young players and staff involved in the programme, and it is credit to the hard work the players have been putting in to develop themselves.
“Beating a team who have won the competition for nine years out of the 11 it has been in existence is proof of the progress that the partnership between club and college have achieved.
“With the college investing in a new pitch, I am excited to see the continued growth in both programme and partnership.”
While the AASE League is now complete until the next school year, there is still plenty of rugby left for BMC’s student athletes this season – with the squad looking to retain the Under-18s Schools County Cup title they won on the same ground last year.
The college are also set to face a number of Championship academies in a series of friendly fixtures, and will compete in the AoC Premier League in the New Year before attending the famous Rosslyn Park 7s in March.
The Tigers Academy, led by new head coach Matt Smith, begin the defence of their own Under-18s League title later this month.
Brooksby Melton College are currently recruiting to the successful rugby programme run in partnership with the Tigers.
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