DURFC talent features on the big stage

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Members of Durham University Rugby Club are following a long line of players who commit to rugby at the highest level during and following their time at the university. Current and recently former players are playing for Gallagher English Premiership clubs and their academies, often balancing such with their degrees.

The Super Rugby League boasts some of the best talent from across the globe who wish to play performance level rugby whilst studying at a top-level university.

Durham currently sit top of the table, which speaks volumes about future talent. The club has a proven track record in producing stars of the not only the highest domestic level, but on a national level too.

A look to the bench of Bristol Bears during their recent 32-15 win over Sale Sharks demonstrates how future talent is being lined up. 1XI captain, Fred Davies, the Super Rugby all-time top league try scorer, watched on and saw glimpses of what his own rugby future is going to look like.

Their first team and senior academy is littered with current and former members of the Palatinates.

Of course, history graduate, Fitz Harding is a regular feature for the Bears. The back rower, who spoke to Palatinate last season, made his Premiership debut in October 2020. Harding seems to have adapted to professional rugby seamlessly, being awarded Pick of the Match in their recent narrow defeat to top of the table Leicester Tigers on Boxing Day.

A look to Worcester Warriors also highlights a former Hollow Drift playmaker who has nestled into the Premiership. Justin Clegg made his first team debut for the Warriors during his time at Durham in the Anglo-Welsh Cup. The lock made his way through Worcester’s academy, making his Premiership debut, like Harding, in 2020.

Closer to the North East hub of DURFC is Premiership side, Newcastle Falcons. Their first team and senior academy is littered with current and former members of the Palatinates.

Just some of the Durham University alumni part of the squad are Sean Robinson, and Ben Stevenson. Robinson scored five tries in his 19 appearances with the Falcons last season and Stevenson has featured throughout, most notably in their2019-20 unbeaten promotion campaign.

Of the current DURFC squad, Mark Dormer and Guy Pepper are two of five Falcons senior academy players to be selected for England’s Under 20s in the upcoming Six Nations Championship. The senior academy players are a fine example of what converting university rugby into professional rugby looks like. Pepper is tipped to be one to watch in the tournament.

Durham University graduates have gone on to achieve great things in the world of rugby union.

It’s not just the England Under 20s squad that Durham University has a part to play in. Three students are up for selection in Scotland’s Under 20s Six Nations Championship Squad. Tom Bantalava, Jonty Cope and Jake Spurway will all represent the club.

Also at a national level is Jamie Adamson, who has recently been selected for the England Sevens programme for 2022.

Speaking to DURFC, Adamson spoke of the flexibility to play international rugby whilst being part of the club, “I’m really grateful to be able to do it alongside Uni and for the club to facilitate that is really helpful. It’s a really exciting opportunity for me and I can’t wait to get started.”

Over time, Durham University students and graduates have gone on to achieve great things in the world of rugby union – a look to the likes of Will Greenwood and Will Carling is a shining example of this.

Former players are peppered across the country playing at the highest level; it is a career path that is well trodden among Durham University alumni.

The performance programme, the University itself and the Super Rugby League allows for professional development through engaging with higher education. This is proving to be a recipe for producing some of the finest talent in the country, who can then go on to play for Premiership and national sides.

Image: DURFC

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