Loughborough and Hartpury landed the ultimate prizes in BUCS rugby union to cap off another thrilling season of BUCS Super Rugby and Women’s National League action.

The StoneX was a fitting backdrop for two epic finals between four teams at the very top of their game starting with the BUCS Super Rugby Championship Final.

One of the most anticipated rematches of a final in recent times began the way of the reigning champions, Exeter, as Charlie McCaig slotted the first points through the uprights.

After a period of sizing each other up, it was Loughborough who put their foot down first as Chris Preen forced some missed tackles to storm in under the posts before the relentless boot of Morgan Meredith extended the lead to 13-3 with three points.

Following two rolling maul tries, one for each side, it was time to head into the dressing room with Loughborough leading 23-10 at the half.

With work to do in the second half, Exeter needed to come out firing, which they did thanks to a superb Benjy Joseland try to make it 17-23 to Loughborough.

Exeter looked set for another five points, but a spilled attacking lineout gave the African Violet the chance to attack. 80m and 90 seconds later, Loughborough were over the whitewash in scintillating fashion, and a couple minutes later it went from bad to worse for the reigning champions, conceding a penalty try and yellow card. With 20 minutes left, could Exeter perform a miracle?

Just when it looked like Exeter were down and out, they did what all great champions do, fight back. Two tries to complete a hat-trick for Joseland in the 69th and 76th minute put them within a score and close to a remarkable comeback.

After a nerve jangling four minutes of intense rugby, Loughborough managed to snag the ball back and boot it out of play to cause an eruption of African Violet celebrations on the pitch and in the stands.

A dramatic final ended 31-35, handing Loughborough redemption for last year’s defeat and their first national title since 2010.

Now it was the turn of the women, as three-peat chasing Hartpury took on Loughborough, looking to emulate the men.

The defending champions powered their way out the blocks, with three quick tries inside the first 25 to give them a commanding 17-0 lead. Loughborough responded with some excellent running rugby and seven on the board before Clara Grizzle-Johnson went over in the corner for Hartpury’s fourth try of the final.

With half time approaching, Loughborough scored a non-converted try before the warrior Amy dale, sporting a battle wound on her cheek crashed over the whitewash. Hartpury led 27-12 as the referee's whistle blew for the half.

Much the like Exeter in the BUCS Super Rugby Final, Loughborough needed to strike first in the second 40, and that they did with a powerful tap and go.

Hartpury were starting to feel the pressure as Loughborough grew into the game. The African Violet were consistently knocking on the door, and it finally paid off in the 69th minute when Freya Greensmith used her speed to round the Hartpury defender for the score.

The pressure continued well into the last ten minutes, where Loughborough thought they had broken through the defence for the chance to take the lead, only to be denied by an incredible try-saving, and potential title winning tackle by Sophie Davies.

A try at the death from Hartpury’s Anouk Veerkamp sealed back-to-back league and Championship doubles and a historic third Championship in a row, equalling their male counterparts who did the same between 2017 and 2019.

The curtains draw on another magical BUCS Super Rugby and Women’s National League season, which saw drama and excitement right up to the final whistle.

BUCS Super Rugby
League - Exeter
Championship - Loughborough

Women’s National League
League - Hartpury
Championship - Hartpury

BUCS Super Rugby Final
Women's National League Final

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