BICTON College will next year join the AASE league (Achieving Academic and Sporting Excellence) for the 2014 season starting in September.
Bicton College, who provide one of the branch arms of the Exeter Chiefs Academy set-up, this year won the British Colleges Sports (BCS) Under-19 Elite League after defeating Myesrcough College in the semi-final and Bishop Burton in the final.
Bicton will join Truro, Ivybridge, Filton, Henley & St Pauls. The league will run up to December before taking a break to allow the National Academy Under-18 Competition to run before resuming with play offs in March.
This year 12 players from Bicton represented the Chiefs Academy Under-18 side that lost in the Academy Under-18 National Final to Northampton Saints at Allianz Park.
The vision of the AASE league is to provide an optimum talent development environment for players in state schools and colleges to achieve both academic and rugby excellence and best promote progression to the professional game and England representative sides.
The partnership between Exeter Chiefs & Bicton College was formed three years ago to support the development of young players in the region through the academic programmes and to create a specialist team and resources to develop their rugby playing ability and talent.
Rob Gibson (pictured), who runs the programme from Bicton, is excited by the challenges ahead and believes that the whole region will benefit with players being taken to another level of competition.
He said: “Obviously not all players are going to secure rugby contracts and it is important we balance expectations with academic and rugby development. Most of these young men will be playing club rugby and working in the community for years to come so the benefits along the way will be huge for the area.”
Rugby has grown at Bicton in the three years and next year along with the AASE league the college will continue with two teams in the BCS competitions. This will provide opportunities for many players to compete at a variety of levels. It is also the first year that girls rugby will feature with the girls also competing in the Girls AASE.
This summer two students Dan Pullinger & Laurence May who this year joined Bicton to attend the HNC (Higher National Certificate) programme will train full-time with the Chiefs Senior squad, while three others have joined Championship teams - Luke Chapman (Plymouth Albion) and Marcus Garrett & Todd Lowry (Cornish Pirates).