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We've now moved our sport news dated from 2009 to 2022 to our news archive.

Partnership announcement

University of Exeter Sport are proud to announce our 4-year partnership with Kukri Sports. The deal will see Kukri provide sportswear for Exeter students, staff and members of the athletic union.

This exciting partnership will provide students with market leading, bespoke sportswear to help them perform at their best and proudly represent the university.

We are looking forward to working with the University of Exeter and their sports teams, students and staff over the next four years. This is a fantastic partnership, and we are excited to be working on a completely bespoke range, designed to encompass the university and it’s history. The new range will aim to support performance, participation and provide a fresh offering to university’s sports kit. Josh Beal, Sales Director at Kukri Sports

“We are very excited to be working with Kukri following a thorough and competitive tender process. Launching our new kit designs in line with the new University branding ready for the upcoming academic year and BUCS season provides us with a great opportunity to develop our partnership with Kukri. We have been working with students and staff to design our uniform and playing kit options. The feedback has been extremely positive, we will continue this engagement throughout the partnership. We look forward to working with Kukri over the next 4 years as our official sportswear partner.” Alison Davidson, Director of Sport, University of Exeter

About the University of Exeter

Established in 1851, the University of Exeter is a world-class education provider in the south-west of England. They have established an international reputation for both teaching and research – Find out more

If you are interested in partnering with Kukri Sports, or want to know how they can help, Get in touch

Date: 12 June 2023


(L-R) Niamh Orchard, Maisy Allen, Katie Buchanan and Nancy McGillivary

Congratulations are in order for student athletes Maisy Allen, Nancy McGillivary, Niamh Orchard and Katie Buchanan, for their selection into the Women’s England U20’s rugby squad for this season. For the past couple of months, the quartet have been involved with U20’s training development camps, whilst also playing and training for Exeter Chiefs Women and University of Exeter Rugby respectively.

The group have recently come off the back of a 3-game series, where they played Scotland Futures at Kingston Park following the Red Roses’ fixture against Scotland, and France at home (Wellington College) and away (Tours in the Centre-Val de Loire region). 

Ahead of the series against France, England U20's Head Coach Lou Meadows said, “The players have been working very hard within their clubs and University programmes and we are all very much looking forward to seeing their efforts transfer onto the pitch in what I am sure will be some thrilling tests.”

The matches showcased the next generation of international talent including a variety of players who have been regularly playing in the Allianz Premier 15’s for their respective clubs. The team came away victorious against Scotland Futures (66-19) which displayed a fine performance from all, with Maisy Allen scoring following a superb line break on the halfway line and Niamh Orchard powering over from close range. 

We caught up with Maisy Allen, co-captain of the side, who added her reflectionsIt was really exciting to be able to go into camp with some familiar faces in Nancy, Niamh, Katie and Sophie, with other girls coming and going through the season. It makes it easier for the group to integrate into playing together when you already know how some people like to play. 

The Scotland game got us off to a really positive start, where all the players who had been in camp got the opportunity to play (26 player squad). Our ability to try the things we have been working on in training and to have success within that built a lot of confidence throughout the team and put us in a positive position going into the France games. 

It was difficult for us to prepare for France as we had no footage of them, so the week leading up to France home was very much focused on our own performance and fixing up a few things from the Scotland game. Unfortunately, I think we went into this game with a false sense of security and underperformed. France capitalised on our errors, and where we got away with it in Scotland, we were punished in this game. This was a big learning curve for me as a leader as I had to try and find motivation for the team when we weren't in a very good situation. As a team, we felt very deflated after this game but fortunately had the opportunity to play France again away in Tours. 

The energy in camp built up over the week, and we were able to learn how France played and make changes to our play that was ineffective against such a lively and creative side. The France away game started in a similar way to what France at home did, however, we managed to get hold of the occasion and begin to execute again. Unfortunately, we came away with another loss but the transformation of our performance over the two weeks was something to be really pleased with.

Since being away from camp, I have reflected with some of the girls from Exeter, and this has been really beneficial as we are in different positions so can understand decision-making/ choices from each other’s point of view. I have gained a lot from having to lead when the team is in a difficult position and will use this in the future when I am in similar positions again. 

Hopefully there will be a summer tour where we can use the learnings from these three games, grow our on-field relationship and play more international fixtures!

All at Exeter Sport are very proud of the group and cannot wait to have them back around the University and featuring for our University Rugby Team.

For more information on our rugby programme here at the university, visit our website and be sure to follow EURFC Women’s results on Instagram @euwrfc_ with Rugby 7’s next up!

Date: 3 May 2023


2023 intake of the Women's GB EDP and Head of Hockey Harry Jones.

In the first year of England Hockey’s new talent strategy, University of Exeter has successfully been accredited as a Talent Academy and officially launched in September 2022. The University has also had 13 hockey performance athletes selected into the Great Britain Elite Development pathway (GB EDP) highlighting our commitment to supporting athletes at different levels within the pathway.

The Talent Academies are aimed at supporting talented 15-18 year olds with weekly training sessions and bi-weekly S&C support. Following a competitive application process University of Exeter has been named as one of 21 accredited Talent Academies for 2022-2023. University of Exeter Head of Women’s Hockey Matt Way leads on the talent academy coaching and University of Exeter S&C coach Kai Hill delivers S&C support

University of Exeter Head of Women’s Hockey Matt Way commented “It has been a brilliant start to the Talent Academy cycle with the opportunity to work with some of the most talented young players in the region. Now that the weekend league season has come to it’s conclusion, the competition element of the TA cycle starts to ramp up with regional matches against Bath, Oxford, Reading and Southampton. This will all culminate in an exciting opportunity for the selected 16 outfield and 2 GKs to represent the University of Exeter and compete in the National competition in July”.

In relation to the S&C support provided, University of Exeter S&C coach Kai Hill commented “The aim of the Talent Academy strength and conditioning provision is to develop each athlete's fundamental movement skills through education and frequent exposure to the key movement patterns whilst developing strength and robustness specific to hockey. This allows the players to excel on the pitch and manage their weekly workloads. Each athlete also gets the opportunity to experience an aspect of the performance hockey programme we run here at the University of Exeter”.

Reflecting on University of Exeter’s first year as a Talent Academy as a whole, Director of Sport Alison Davidson commented We are really pleased to be part of the new talent strategy for England Hockey and proud to host one of the talent academies at Exeter. With hockey being one of our University performance sports we are keen to work with England Hockey wherever possible. We look to continue to support the hockey players sitting within our own Performance Programme, Sports Scholarship Scheme and named on Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) as well as talented young players within our region.

Within our current University of Exeter Hockey Sports Scholars we have had huge success this year. Martha Taylor has been part of the England Senior squad and earlier in the year was called up to represent GB women’s hockey in the FIH Pro league squad playing fixtures against Argentina and the Netherlands. In addition, as a University we have had 13 athletes selected into the GB EDP for 2023, listed below:

1. Ollie Drummond
2. Ben Fox
3. Nick Nurse
4. Jacob Payton
5. Will Petter
6. Connor Sign
7. Jamie Taylor
8. Lewis Wilcher

1. Ella Burnley
2. Flo Fletcher
3. Georgie Gardens
4. Millie Holme
5. Becky Manton 

The GB EDP programme allows budding young athletes the opportunity to reach the top of their game and achieve their hockey ambitions. The GB EDP is coordinated by England Hockey on behalf of England Hockey, Scottish Hockey and Hockey Wales and is funded by UK Sport and the National Lottery. It has given an extra step in the performance development pathway, allowing the athletes to work up through the stages with aspirations to become an international athlete in the future. This way the athletes have a clearer line of development from the introduction of hockey right up into elite domestic hockey and then elite international performance.

The programme runs annually from January to December each year where a formal assessment process is run in the autumn. The programme involves training camps and contact days which include high quality hockey training and enables the athletes to access other performance services such as physiotherapy, strength and conditioning, nutrition advice, performance analysis and psychology. The opportunity for joint training sessions and practice matches with the senior GB teams is regularly integrated into the programme too.

We are incredibly proud of our University performance athletes who have been selected, all of which are competing regularly within our BUCS teams here at the University and also within weekend leagues. This year our women’s side won BUCS Championship silver and have been promoted into the Vitality Women’s Premier Division of theEngland Hockey league. We wish our EDP athletes all the success in the programme and with no doubt, we will see many of them on the international stage in the future. 

A huge congratulations from everyone here at the University of Exeter sport.

Date: 4 April 2023


Collection of images from Big Wednesday

It was a day to remember as 7 University of Exeter sports teams travelled to Nottingham for the highly anticipated BUCS Big Wednesday. The teams were set to compete against some of the best university sports teams in the country, all aiming to bring home the coveted BUCS gold.

The University of Exeter was represented by the Women's Lacrosse 1s, Women's Hockey 1s, Men's Badminton 1s, Women's Water Polo 1s, Men's Fencing 1s, Women's Lacrosse 2s and Women's Hockey 3s - an impressive feat in itself!

On Wednesday the 15th, the first match of the day saw the Men's Badminton 1st team take on a strong Loughborough 2 in the trophy final. Despite a valiant effort, Loughborough emerged victorious with a 6-2 win. However, Kevin's outstanding singles matches earned him the Player of the Match title - a true testament to his exceptional talent.

Next up, the Women's Hockey 3s faced off against Edinburgh in the trophy final. In a thrilling match, the team put on a fantastic performance and emerged victorious with a 2-1 win, securing the BUCS gold - a well-deserved reward for their incredible season!

The Women's Water Polo 1s went head-to-head against a strong Sheffield side. Despite Exeter's quick lead, Sheffield fought back and clinched the win. Nevertheless, the team should be incredibly proud of their successful season, earning them the BUCS silver.

The Women's Lacrosse 1st and 2nd teams faced off against Nottingham 1s and 2s respectively, and although both teams put up a great fight, the home sides emerged victorious.

In the final of the BUCS hockey championship, the Women's Hockey 1s went up against Nottingham in a fiercely competitive match. With both teams having a large turnout of supporters, the match was played under an incredible atmosphere. Nottingham took the lead early on and maintained it throughout the game, eventually winning 3-2. However, Exeter's late press in the final minutes of the game showed their determination and fighting spirit.

All teams competing at BUCS Big Wednesday have worked incredibly hard throughout the year and should take immense pride in being involved in such a prestigious sporting event.

James Coffin

Sports President 2022/23

Date: 30 March 2023

Steffan at the BUCS 8-Ball Pool competition

After 6 BUCS 8-pool competitions, Steffan Llewellyn was apprehensive going into his seventh competition. We caught up with Steffan who let us know all about how he got on...

Going into my seventh BUCS 8-ball pool competition and having never got past four rounds before, I had long since told myself to write-off the individual competition and just focus on the team event. Having been knocked out in the very first round last year, my expectations were at an all-time low going into this one. In some ways the event had been made harder since Great Yarmouth days as now Championship and Trophy players were separated into different events right from the off, meaning the chances of getting an easier opponent in the first round or two were much lower.
Having waited all day until 16:30 Saturday afternoon to get on a table, finally my first match took place. Despite playing a first team player that had already played a match, I managed to win comfortably 3-1. At least I'd beaten my previous year's record! The next round was an even more comfortable 4-0 win, taking me into the last 32. In my next match I dominated, with a lucky shot every now and then, leading to a decisive 4-1 win which took me into the last 16. Now I was daring to hope I might get at last to the quarter-finals. Up against a seasoned veteran pool player, I knew my next match would be the hardest yet. Surprisingly, however, due to some decent tactical play and an off-form opponent, I entered the quarters with a 4-0 victory. But now I faced the finalist of the Southerns competition held two weeks earlier (I only got to the semis of that tournament). He is a good tactical player as well and in the race-to-five took me to the brink of defeat at 4-2 down. However, after a short break I somehow managed to pull back to 4-4 and trigger a deciding frame in which I potted all of my colours and left the black near the middle. After a couple of back-and-forth safety shots, I was given a chance to cut the black in the middle off one of his balls and this saw me enter the semi-finals with a 5-4 win.
Having got further than I ever thought I would, I now faced another seasoned player of the game and knew they must be very good in order to get this far in an historically tough tournament. With tactical play and a bit of luck every now and then, I once again manged to scrape a 5-4 victory. A sense of numb disbelief is all I can describe it as, the thought I was in the finals of a tournament that I'd spent seven years never getting anywhere in. But now I was up against perhaps the favourite to win the tournament going in and had only dropped a few frames in the individual event up to then, someone that also plays for England too. 
I spent Sunday afternoon still in a state of disbelief but also with an element of trepidation creeping in. I had watched every BUCS final since joining University pool and recall how I had often thought 'thank God I'll never be in a final, I'd hate it with all those people watching'. I'm not a good pressure player at the best of times and my game can fall to pieces in such an environment. My main fear was this would happen right from the off and I'd be left with a 6-0 defeat having barely potted a ball properly...
The first frame he cleared from an awkward position. The next four frames I managed to dominate, primarily once again using tactical play, I knew he could out-pot me so needed to play him on my terms. At 4-1 up in a race-to-six, he was visibly distressed and the prospect of winning the event was so close to hand. I just needed to win two of the next potential seven frames. Despite an audience of 70 or 80 players and presumably at least that number or more watching on the live stream, I hadn't so far experienced the anticipated nerves and was reasonably relaxed...perhaps all the pub league and interleague games over the past year had assisted me in this regard.
When the opponent returned from a break, the sixth game commenced. What followed was a 22-minute highly tactical frame, the forte of World rules fans and the bane of International rules advocates. 
Despite him having the advantage for most of this frame, due to his red ball being in front of my yellow ball and slightly in front of the black ball for a lot of it, I somehow managed to get to the position of potting all my yellows and having a shot on the black. The red was in front slightly and they were touching. A soft shot wouldn't have budged either ball at all. If I did a deliberate foul, whether I left him in a foul snooker or not, all he had to do was pot the red and the black would easily follow on his next shot. With no other options left, all I could do was play the black at the right angle at a hard pace in the hope the sheer force would push it past the red and either pot it, or at least somehow edge in front a bit. What followed nobody could predict...
With an enormous roar from the audience, all three balls potted in the same shot. In some ways, a fitting end to such a long and arduous frame. Despite losing it, I had at least maintained my reputation as a tactical World rules player, technically getting myself into a position of potting the black in a frame I was mostly at a disadvantage in. Nevertheless, it proved to be a crucial frame. Had I gone 5-1 up, the chances of winning were nearing on certain. But because of that bizarre shot, something seemed to click in my subconscious and the dreaded wobbles began, leading me to barely be able to pot balls for the remainder of the match. Moreover, the opponent seemed to have found renewed optimism because of that win and tightened up his game to win the next four frames, leading to a 6-4 defeat for myself.
Still, two frames from winning BUCS 8-ball isn't bad going!

You can find out more about how University of Exeter Snooker and Pool team get on with their season here.
Date: 9 March 2023


Top: Nancy McGillivray, Bottom: Poppy Leitch

Head coach Simon Middleton has named a 42-player England Women training squad for the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations, with EURFC Women's Head Coach Poppy Leitch and student Nancy McGillivray both selected.

The squad is made up of 23 forwards and 19 backs.  
McGillivray is one of nine uncapped players in the squad, having represented England U20s last year, whilst Leitch is named for the first time since 2019. 
The group will meet at St. George’s Park on Monday (6 March) for the first of two preparation camps at the East Midlands venue.  
England open their TikTok Six Nations campaign against Scotland in Newcastle (Saturday 25 March, KO 4.45pm at Kingston Park), before hosting Italy (Sunday 2 April, KO 3pm at Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton). 
They then travel to Cardiff to take on Wales at Cardiff Arms Park (Saturday 15 April, KO 2.15pm) before visiting Ireland (Saturday 22 April, KO 2.15pm, Musgrave Park, Cork). 
All teams are again in action on ‘Super Saturday’ where England's final game of the tournament sees them host France in the team’s first standalone fixture at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 29 April, KO 1pm.  
Head coach Middleton said: “We’re really looking forward to the TikTok Six Nations tournament. There are a number of new faces in this squad and while we are missing experienced players, this is a great opportunity for these younger players and we’re looking forward to working with them." 
McGillivray burst onto the scene last season in the green and white of EURFC, eventually progressing into the Exeter Chiefs squad, where she has since become a mainstay of the match day side, including an appearance in the final last season. 
As for Leitch, she has been a mainstay of rugby here in Exeter, having played for the BUCS winning university sides of 2018 and 2019, before going on to become women's Head Coach at the university, where she has led her side back to the top end of women's university rugby this season. 
Leitch is also captain at Exeter Chiefs, who currently sit top of the Allianz Premier15s table. 
They are both joined in the Red Roses squad by alumni Bryony Cleall, Amber Reed and LagiTuima, whilst fellow alumni Clara Nielson has been named in the Ireland squad for the tournament as well as Caity Mattinson in the Scotland squad. 

Seven current and former students will have the opportunity to represent their country in the tournament, showcasing the strength of the rugby programme here in Exeter.

Reflecting on the squad announcements, University of Exeter Director of Sport Alison Davidson commented "Its brilliant to see one of our current students and a member of staff named in the England Women training squad for the 2023 TikTok Women’s Six Nations. We are really proud of our women's rugby programme here at Exeter and continue to enjoy celebrating the achievements of our current students and alumnae. Congratulations to all our current students and alumnae named in their respective nations squads and we look forward to following the tournament".  

Written by Harry Scott-Munro (EURFC Media)

Date: 2 March 2023

Matilda Nicholls (Photo by Matt Austin)

As part of This Girl Can month, we caught up with student Matilda Nicholls, who represents the British Sailing Team and is one of our scholarsHear what Matilda has to say about her sailing journey...

Q: How did you first get into sailing? 

I was super lucky to have grown up in Bermuda when I was younger. It meant that I got to learn to sail on such incredible waters from the age of 8 to 13. I used to walk down from school to the Yacht Club each Wednesday with my friends to go sailing and as we got older we would start to race against each other on the weekends.  

Q: What do you enjoy most about sailing? 

I love the incredible people that are involved with my sport. Many friends that I first met at international competitions when I was 12, and I am still competing against almost 10 years later. It is a sport filled with competitive, hardworking individuals but equally, we are always looking out for one another.  

Q: What’s the best place you have travelled to with sailing and why? 

The most amazing place I’ve travelled to for sailing has got to be Lago di Garda in Italy. It’s an incredible lake surrounded by mountains and amazing scenery. There is always plenty of wind for sailing and it’s just a gorgeous place to explore after a day of training or competing.  

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a student at University of Exeter? 

I really enjoy the environment here at Exeter that has been created by the students and University together. I love being able to walk onto Campus, into the gym or into town each day and always seeing a familiar face. I feel very proud to be a part of this University and all it has to offer for us both as individuals and collectively.  

Q: How has the TASS sailing hub supported you whilst at University of Exeter? 

There is no way that I would have been able to balance a full-time degree and life as a professional athlete without the support from the TASS sailing hub here at Exeter. I always feel comfortable asking for help when I need it whether it be academic, sporting or wellbeing related. The elite sporting environment that the University maintains here is also an amazing place to grow and thrive in as an athlete. 

Matilda Nicholls (student and scholar)

Date: 20 Februrary 2023



Bella Daniels on the EUBC committee

As part of This Girl Can month, we caught up with former S&C placement student and University of Exeter alumnae Bella Daniels, who came back to deliver a guest lecture as part of the sports science S&C module. Read more to get an insight into Bella’s journey in S&C so far

What do you enjoy most about working in S&C?

Mainly how variable it is! Every day is really different and you are definitely kept on your toes, whether that be working with different sports, preparing for weekly matches and working with athletes to overcome challenges e.g. injuries. 

What is your current role and how did you get to this?

My current job title is Head of Athletic Development/Strength and Conditioning at Haileybury College. Initially, I found out about a role on offer at Haileybury through an alumni connection. The experience I gained at University of Exeter from the S&C placement and the skill set I developed from my SportsScience degree put me in a good position to apply for the role and work in the field of S&C.

If you could give one piece of advice to a current student wanting to get into S&C what would it be?

Take the initiative to do things alongside your degree whilst at University. It is possible to manage alongside your degree and social life! There is no harm in reaching out to people in the industry you want to go into to try and gain any experience you can. 

What were the most useful things you learnt as part of your S&C placement with the performance team here at Exeter?

EverythingIt made me realise this was the job I wanted to do post University so helped with decision making. I think learning from a variety of experienced coaches was valuable and I’m still in contact with them now. Being supported and assessed throughout the placement made it much easier to progress e.g. being observed when coaching and getting feedback. The variety of experiences I had on the placement and being part of a high performance environment was great. This included being involved with TASS athletes, coaching raw basic skills with young tennis players, leading on coaching with the cricket development squad and programming for the boat club.

What do you enjoy about working with student-athletes?

It's nice to work with athletes who have a variety of goals. We have some pupils wanting to push to perform, with others it's more about education to make an impact on longevity, wellbeing, ability to look after themselves and stay injury free. Being in a school setting you have to maximise the sessions you have but also make the gym a place to relax and enjoy, without being a stressful environment. 

In the future how do you think more women can be encouraged to pursue a career in S&C?

It’s definitely becoming less of a divide. Don't be phased by it, see everyone as equal, if you are passionate about it, you will overcome any barriers there are. 

If you could meet one influential woman involved in sport, who would it be and why? 

Really difficult to pick one but I think I’d go for Emma Radacanu. She is so young but able to perform at such a high level, showing great maturity and composure. This is really inspirational to see. 

From an Exeter perspective, I’d choose LagiTuima. It’s been great to watch her go through her journey from training in the gym together at Exeter and then seeing her at Harlequins when I was doing some shadowing to get some work experience there 

Bella Daniels (alumnae and former S&C placement student)

Date: 20 February 2023

Top image: Mens Indoor Cricket Winners (Exeter 2's). Bottom Image: Mens Indoor Cricket Runners Up (Exeter 1's)

The culminating stage of the BUCS indoor cricket Trophy tournament played at Leicester on 5th February, concluded with the two EUMCC sides contesting the gold medals, a remarkable, perhaps unique, outcome in a BUCS competition.

EUMCC entered two teams for the tournament last term and had to label one the 1st team and the other the 2nd, though they were similar in quality, the 1sts having the classier batting and the 2nds the more solid bowling. In preliminary rounds, the 1sts lost two games (one to the 2nds) and so qualified only for the Trophy (second tier) play-offs, while the undefeated 2nds were, under the competition rules, not permitted to proceed to the first tier. Happily, the two teams kept out of each other's way until the very last Trophy game, though to do that at Leicester they both had to top their groups. 

That was achieved with only the odd worry. The 2nds began with a loss to Queen Mary's, but then had convincing wins over UEA and Aston.  The 1sts won all three games in their group, though there was a nervous last-ball win over Imperial before De Montfort and Worcester were disposed of comfortably.  In the semis, Aston and Imperial never really challenged the Exeter teams.  The 1sts front four of Luke Maslen (captain), Jamie Baird, Johnny Connell and James Boyle never failed, while the 2nds bowling attack, led by Dom Morgan, the day's most economical bowler, always made scoring difficult. It promised a tight final.

The 2nds batted first, leaving the 1sts to chase, as in all their games on the day.

Skipper Billy Buckingham and Will Chesterman provided a solid start and Taylor Ingham-Hill and Will Lucas took the scoring to 73-5 after the ten overs. In a small and low-scoring court, it was a decent rather than daunting total. Boyle (2-12) and George Addy (2-24) were the wicket-takers. Although Maslen looked to hold the reply together, Baird fell early to Morgan and a remarkable catch turned the game by Buckingham to remove Connell and then by the disastrous run-out of Boyle. The innings subsided to 54, Morgan (1-9) and Chesterman (2-9) the wicket-takers, leaving the 2nds winners by the surprisingly generous margin of 19 runs. and so retaining the Trophy won by them in 2022. Lucas and Chesterman had been in the previous team too. As all the other teams in the final stage were 1st teams, the victory underlined the depth of cricket talent at Exeter, as we head towards the outdoor season.

Teams:  1sts:  Luke Maslen (c), Jamie Baird (w), Johnny Connell, James Boyle, Akshay Bhardawaj and George Addy.    2nds: Billy Buckingham (c), Will Chesterman, Taylor Ingham-Hill (w), Will Lucas, Dom Morgan and Jack Peirce. 

Written by:Bruce Coleman 

The programme here at the University of Exeter is ranked number 3 for university programmes, hosting five men’s and two women’s teams competing in both the indoor and outdoor BUCS seasons. Facilities include the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Devon Cricket Centre which has four full-length indoor nets and bowling machines. Learn more about the performance cricket programme via our website.

Date: 17 February 2023

Exeter Athletic Dakota Ladies

Exeter Athletic Dakota Ladies


The newly formed Exeter Athletic Dakota Women have had a flawless start to the season with 5 from 5 wins and EURFC Women are already witnessing the benefits of providing another playing experience for our University students through the Exeter Athletic weekend fixtures.

Exeter Athletic Dakota Ladies was originally founded in 2019 to support Exeter Chiefs Women in their application process for a place in the Allianz Premiership 15s. The side played in the National 2 South West (West) League, and after a successful season found themselves comfortably at the top of the table. The side also organised two invitational fixtures during the season against Newcastle Falcons and The Army. Players like Ebony Jefferies (previous University of Exeter student and Linde Van Der Velden (Netherlands captain)) were invited to represent the side, with the endeavour to represent Exeter Chiefs Women in the premiership the following year. Off the back of this success, Exeter Chiefs Women secured themselves a spot in the premiership for the 2020-21 season and have had a successful first two seasons so far. At the beginning of the 2022-23 season, the Exeter Chiefs side currently includes 8 University of Exeter students and 4 alumni. 

The 2021-22 season found Exeter University Women (EURFC Women) hitting the highest number of members to date. EURFC Women had two sides competing in BUCS leagues in the 2021-22 season which was brilliant for the development of the Women’s game and University sport. Despite this, a high number of players were missing out on playing opportunities. With the University’s Head of Women’s Rugby Poppy Leitch keen to source additional playing experience for EURFC women’s club members and work with Exeter Athletic, the application for the named Exeter Athletic Dakota Women to re-enter the NC 2 South West (West) League was accepted for the 2022-23 season. 

“We have seen massive benefits to having an additional playing opportunity through Exeter Athletic. 91% of our members have now played a fixture, for either the 1st, 2nd or Athletic side. The type of rugby we see in the Athletic league is very different to that within BUCS. As well as playing opportunity, it has also allowed us to create connections and bonds with local rugby communities. We have more fixtures the other side of Christmas, we are excited to get more people playing and hopefully more successful results.” Poppy Leitch – Head of Womens Rugby  

Exeter Athletic Dakota Women hope to progress this team through the National League levels in the next two years and eventually compete in the Championship. This league sits just below the Allianz Premiership.  

Alongside the Exeter Athletic Dakota Women’s side, EURFC Women have two other teams who are competing in British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS). After successful promotion last year, the first team are competing in the Womens National League where they are currently sitting 3rd in the table- an excellent start to the season in a new league. Due to the calibre of players coming through the university programme, the second team has shifted from a development focused side to a performance squad. They are competing in Western 1A and are also sitting 3rd in the table with the hope to get promoted in the next 2 years to the Womens Premier League which sits just below the Womens National League.  

Exeter Athletic has been a fantastic addition to the EURFC Women family this year as we welcomed many new members from across the Devon county of all ages and rugby backgrounds. We have had an incredible start to this year's season, being an undefeated side heading into the Christmas break. It has been wonderful to have both familiar faces and new players filling the team sheets each week. Having the step up from 2 BUCS teams last year, to now filling 3 teams, with one entering the club rugby scenehas been an incredible opportunity and step forward in a positive direction for the club and women's rugby at the university. It has allowed so many new girls to get game time, learning opportunities and to work with more experienced playersin the Exeter Athletic side, as well as building stronger connections within the EURFC Women family and across the county as we dive into the more club rugby "traditions" in our post-match team meals with our opposition  

Looking ahead into the new year and the second half of the rugby season, I am hoping to see Exeter Athletic continue in this upward trajectory as we strive for promotion into a higher league and continue to work hard, build as a side, and support each other as we improve as individual players. Hannah Ulcoq- EURFC Women Player. 


Women’s Rugby is one of our Performance Sports at the University of Exeter as such women’s rugby performance athletes receive high-quality coaching and a comprehensive support services package. For more information about our women’s rugby programme please click here 

Date: 3 January 2023