Hartpury College rounded off their remarkable season last weekend as they secured promotion to the Championship – becoming the first college or university side to reach the second tier of English rugby.
— Carl Innes (@Carl_InnesSport) March 11, 2017
John Barnes’ men are yet to lose this campaign, with a 57-21 win over a resilient Old Albanians side on Saturday extending their winning run to 25 games.
The win means Hartpury have wrapped up the National 1 title with five games left to play, and Barnes knows there is still plenty to play for:
“It’s been an outstanding year for everyone here, it’s great for everyone who’s been involved with Hartpury over the years to finally achieve Championship rugby.
“Obviously it would be great to finish the season unbeaten, we’ve also got to look ahead to next year. At the end of the day we know it’s going to be a massive challenge on the field, we’ve put a few things in place trying to prepare for that.”
Their promotion means that Hartpury will be facing the likes of Yorkshire Carnegie and Cornish Pirates next season, with the possibility of a trip to Ashton Gate on the cards if Bristol come down from the Premiership.
But full back Mike Wilcox admits they don’t want to look too far ahead as they look to finish this campaign unbeaten.
Former Hartpury players and local clubs took to Twitter to congratulate them on their achievement:
— Elliott Stooke (@elliottstooke) March 11, 2017
— Tom Savage (@tc_savage) March 12, 2017
What an achievement! Plenty of rugby left in the season and title is wrapped up. https://t.co/PH23OSSypK
— Gloucester Rugby (@gloucesterrugby) March 11, 2017
Despite their success, Barnes knows his side still have a lot of work to do ahead of next year:
“It’s something we’ve got to step up to and certain areas of our game have to improve in the Championship and it will be a tough year but we’re looking forward to it.
“I think for the remainder of the season we’ll certainly look at things we’ll have to focus on in the Championship and look at potential players to come here to add to our squad.
“There’s lots to work on, on and off the field, and we’re looking forward to it.