Northumbria University captain Oli Robinson is desperate to put the bad experiences of playing at Twickenham to one side as he bids to return as part of the new BUCS Super Rugby competition.
Having previously been split into north and south leagues, this season sees the best eight rugby universities combined into one competition across an entire season.
Northumbria University kick things off by travelling to Cardiff early in October and will be hoping to make it all the way to the showpiece at Twickenham on March 26.
And leading them into battle will be forward Robinson, who represented his county at the home of rugby last year, but saw his playing time cut short by being sent to the sin-bin.
It’s a disappointment he is now keen to put to one side, hoping BUCS Super Rugby can be the pathway to bigger and better things for the 21-year-old, aptly from Rugby itself.
“We’re preparing really well, we’ve just got back from a trip to Malaga which the university put on for us, and it was great to get away with a lot of our new boys,” he said.
“Whoever we play it’s going to be a hard game, everyone is a tough team and its relentless. The new competition will attract a lot of good players to come to Northumbria which is excellent and people will want to come here.
“You see a lot of people moving towards the Championship and even some towards the Premiership, and that’s where we want to be. We aspire to be like them, it’s like that for a lot of the lads who want that experience.
“With Darren Fearn, our new head coach, he’s a man who has played in the Premiership so he can give us a taste of that experience.
“It’s pretty special captaining. It’s a big honour and it’s exciting with my family watching on. Twickenham gives you a real feel of English rugby, and to have that for universities is pretty awesome. “
The new BUCS Super Rugby league sees the eight best university teams compete weekly across the season, allowing students to enjoy a high quality of rugby on a daily basis – a venture supported by the RFU.
And for Fearn, formerly of Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks and now taking a management role in the university team, there is no better way to get into the professional rugby scene than coming through university, and believes there is potential for Northumbria players to follow in his footsteps.
“I used to go to Northumbria University, didn’t come through any academies, and went to a normal school and was picked up by the Newcastle Falcons,” he said.
“I was able to make a career through that with the Bedford Blues and Sale Sharks, and now I’ve got a job which is very close to my heart.
“Northumbria gave me the opportunity and the setup and support is magnificent, the whole ethos is fantastic and we need to back that up with the rugby.
“We’ve got no excuses not to, this is a long process but we’ve got to be progressive and what an opportunity to do it.
“It doesn’t always happen when you’re young. I personally think getting into professional rugby through university is the better option, because unless you’re playing at Twickenham every week, you’re not going to be able to retire from the game and live the high-life, so you need something to fall back on so you can go into another profession.”
BUCS Super Rugby is a new national league, bringing together the eight best men’s university rugby teams in the country. The league is run by British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) and powered by Rugby Vertical. For more info visit www.bucs.org.uk/superrugby