England Universities call up for talented rugby league players

RFL England Universities
The England Universities squad at the Student World Cup in Australia in 2017 (Credit: RFL)

TASS boasts nine members of the 2018 England Universities squad as the RFL names a 26-strong team of the country’s leading student rugby league players.

Of the TASS-supported cohort, quartet Adam Bielby, Alex Clegg, Jason Bass and Joseph Capless are all located in the North East, Harry Aaronson and Reece Brunt are based in Leeds, while Ben Stead and James Mason study in Gloucestershire and Marcus Stock is at University of Sheffield.

The announcement comes as TASS strengthens its partnership with The RFL following the creation of the first regional rugby league Dual Career Hub at Northumbria University.

Players based in the Newcastle area are now accessing TASS services including group strength and conditioning sessions and lifestyle support, to help them manage the demands of rugby and study, alongside their teammates at the Hub.

It’s expected that the new set-up will allow a greater number of talented to be able to access the enhanced support from TASS and therefore have an increased impact on the England Universities squad.

Rugby Football League Education Manager, Adam Hughes, is leading on the development of the Dual Career Hubs. He said: “It is fantastic to build on the partnership between TASS, the Rugby Football League and England Universities.

“Following on from the sponsorship of the England Universities World Cup campaign last year, we are delighted to be working alongside TASS once again for the 2018 campaign.

“The partnership has allowed the RFL to explore new ways to engage with more talented athletes through a talent hub model, which has shown success with players pushing on to Championship and League 1 clubs or being selected for the England Universities squad.”

The student squad will face stern tests in the RFL’s Presidents Cup against GB Police, GB Teachers and UK Armed Forces Rugby League as well as two Student Rugby League Test Matches against New Zealand.

Players will then be cut to 20 before the Student Rugby League Four Nations competition, where England will battle against Ireland, Scotland and Wales in a bid to pick up their third Four Nations crown after taking the title in both 2015 and 2016.

England Universities Head Coach Richard Tate said: “There were always going to be some tough decisions to make when selecting this squad, as the calibre of players in University Rugby League is growing year by year.”

Jason Bass and Marcus Stock return to the squad having impressed for England during the Student World Cup campaign in Sydney last July. There are also a number of new players in the ranks, some having come through the RFL’s growing Midlands and North East areas.

In total, fifteen Universities are represented in the squad and the full list of players is as follows:

Aaron Hall (University of Bolton)
Adam Bielby (Northumbria University)
Alex Clegg (Northumbria University)
Ben Gray (Sheffield Hallam University)
Ben Stead (University of Gloucestershire)
Conner MacCallum (MMU)
Daniel Gover (Coventry University)
Harry Aaronson (University of Leeds)
Harry Chapman (Loughborough University)
James Mason (University of Gloucestershire)
Jason Bass (Newcastle University)
Jed Mawdsley (Newcastle University)
Joseph Capless (Northumbria University)
Kieran Smith (University of Hull)
Lee Registe (Leeds Beckett)
Lewis Fairhurst (Edge Hill University)
Lewis Taylor (Loughborough University)
Luke Stephens (University of Gloucestershire)
Marcus Stock (University of Sheffield)
Matthew Chrimes (Leeds Beckett)
Munashe Fumhanda (University of Leicester)
Nathan Ainsworth (UCLan)
Nathan Hill (University of Hull)
Reece Brunt (University of Leeds)
Ryan Langton (University of Hull)
William Jubb (University of Hull)