- Hartpury play Beechen Cliff in 2018 AASE League final
- Kick off at 15:00 GMT on Wednesday, 5 December at Allianz Park
- Watch live coverage from 14:45 GMT
Hartpury College have become synonymous with AASE League success.
The Gloucestershire side have lifted the trophy eight times since the competition’s inception in 2009, and they will be hoping to continue their incredible run of success in this year’s final.
Having missed out on the 2016 final, they made a statement in last year’s event, beating Gosforth Academy 66-14 in a complete performance.
For coach Wayne Thompson, one of the key messages to the side this season has been to avoid complacency.
“Most people are used to seeing Hartpury in the final now,” says Thompson. “I think the boys avoid that by creating a culture that is constantly driving improvement, they are very excited to be in another final.”
The route to this year’s showpiece event at Allianz Park hasn’t been as straightforward as previous editions. Losses to Exeter College and today’s opposition Beechen Cliff were followed by consecutive one-point wins over Gosforth Academy and Truro and Penwith College.
“The league is definitely getting tougher and the standards are improving,” says Thompson.
“The great thing about this side is that they really motivate themselves, they aspire to go play at the highest level and they also don’t want to let down the teams that have come before them.”
A quick word for our U18 AASE squad who have reached their ninth national final in 10 years, where they will meet powerful opponents in @BeechenRugby.— Hartpury Rugby (@HartpuryRugby) November 26, 2018
Coaches for students are running to the game at Allianz Park on December 5 - tickets via Jo Ward at the Sports Academy. pic.twitter.com/wleEya8QeR
As well as its formidable AASE side, Hartpury College also have a university programme with their first fifteen competing in BUCS Super Rugby as well as a team in the Greene King IPA Championship and Thompson says Hartpury’s unique set up is the secret its success.
“We are the only institution in the country that has that kind of pathway and it gives the players that we take in a clear route to the top.”
The College is known for having produced numerous stars at the highest level and Thompson believes unearthing talent is their greatest strength.
“A lot of players come to Hartpury having no previous academy experience and that is something that we pride ourselves on, we take players at face value.
“If you work hard enough you will get an opportunity. We have a knack of finding these rough diamonds and allowing them to flourish.”
So how will today’s rough diamonds get on at Allianz? It will be close according to Thompson.
“We know how strong Beechen Cliff will be, they are a great team.
“The pressure is probably on us but the boys won’t be afraid to play from anywhere.”