How do I get a rugby sports scholarship in the United Kingdom?

Although financial scholarship opportunities are very limited at UK universities, in comparison for example to the United States where you could potentially earn a full scholarship where all your costs of studying can potentially be covered, you can benefit from free access to top coaching from qualified sports professionals, state-of-the-art facilities, physiotherapy / medical care, gyms and fitness centres to ensure you can perform at your absolute best when representing the university and recover from any injuries as quickly as possible. You can often also have the opportunity to compete outside of the university at a high level if you schedule permits.

To help you learn more about playing rugby at universities in the United Kingdom we have answered some of the questions we frequently get asked below. If you have any additional questions please contact us and let us know.


Rugby, a sport renowned for its intensity, camaraderie, and tradition, has a strong presence in the United Kingdom. With a rich history and a passionate following, rugby plays a significant role in the sporting culture of UK universities. For many students, joining a university rugby team provides an opportunity to embrace the sport’s core values while forming lifelong friendships and experiencing the thrill of competition. In this article, we will explore the unique experience of playing rugby at UK universities, the benefits it offers, and the impact it has on personal growth and campus life.

The BUCS Football League is the football association league system of British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS). It is the largest sport in UK higher education with over 450 men’s and women’s teams competing in 100 leagues.

1. The Tradition of Rugby in the UK

Rugby has deep roots in the UK, dating back to the 19th century when it was first played at the Rugby School. Over the years, it has evolved into two main formats: rugby union and rugby league. In UK universities, rugby union takes the spotlight, with hundreds of teams participating in various leagues and competitions. Universities often have a long-standing tradition of rugby, making it a cherished aspect of student life.

2. Developing Skills and Teamwork

Playing rugby at a UK university is not just about competing; it’s an opportunity to hone one’s athletic abilities and develop essential life skills. Rugby requires a unique blend of physical prowess, strategic thinking, and teamwork. As students practice and train, they build strength, speed, and agility, becoming proficient in tackling, passing, and scoring. The game fosters resilience and determination, encouraging players to persevere through challenges on and off the field.

3. A Thriving Social Environment

Joining a rugby team at a UK university is an excellent way to expand one’s social circle and build lasting friendships. The tight-knit rugby community offers a welcoming atmosphere, where students from diverse backgrounds come together to share a common passion. Regular training sessions, matches, and social events provide ample opportunities for teammates to bond and support one another.

4. Competing in University Leagues

UK universities boast an extensive network of rugby leagues and competitions, catering to players of varying skill levels. The British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) oversees the majority of the university rugby fixtures. Competing against other universities adds excitement and intensity to the game. The BUCS Super Rugby league showcases some of the country’s most talented players, while other leagues provide opportunities for players of all abilities to represent their university.

5. The Varsity Matches

One of the most anticipated events in the university rugby calendar is the annual Varsity Match, where Oxford and Cambridge Universities face off at Twickenham Stadium. This age-old rivalry attracts thousands of spectators and garners significant media attention. The Varsity Match is an extraordinary opportunity for student-athletes to showcase their skills on a grand stage, making memories that last a lifetime.

6. Balancing Academics and Sport

Playing rugby at a UK university requires adept time management and dedication. Student-athletes must strike a balance between rigorous academic demands and training commitments. Universities often provide support services to help players manage their time effectively, ensuring they can excel both on the field and in their studies.

7. Opportunities for Development

For some talented student-athletes, playing rugby at a UK university can be a stepping stone to higher levels of the sport. Scouts from professional rugby clubs regularly attend university games, seeking to identify promising players for their teams. Additionally, several universities have robust rugby scholarship programs, attracting top talent from around the world.

8. Women’s Rugby: Breaking Barriers

The growth of women’s rugby has been phenomenal at UK universities. More women than ever are taking up the sport, challenging stereotypes and breaking barriers. The popularity of women’s rugby has led to the establishment of competitive leagues and dedicated resources, promoting gender equality in sport.


Playing rugby at UK universities is an enriching experience that goes beyond the physical aspect of the game. It offers an opportunity to be part of a tight-knit community, build lifelong friendships, and develop essential life skills. From the excitement of varsity matches to the dedication required to balance academics and sport, university rugby provides an environment where students can thrive both on and off the field. As the sport continues to evolve, the legacy of rugby at UK universities will undoubtedly remain an integral part of the nation’s sporting heritage.

Liam has vast experience at the highest levels of Rugby Union as a player and coach throughout Australia and New Zealand, which makes him the ideal person to head up our international rugby programme.


Brett Cutbush - US Rugby Scholarships

Born in New Zealand, Brett came to the UK on a sports scholarship at one of the best schools in the country. As well as helping the next generation of athletes find scholarships he also plays at a high level with Colchester RFC.


Liam Barrett - U.S Soccer Scholarships

Our co-founder Liam oversees our rugby programme in collaboration with Liam and Brett. Liam has unrivalled industry experience having successfully placed over 500 athletes at UK and American schools in the past 10 years.


U.K Colleges & Universities
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Student-athletes placed on scholarship
U.K SS team members

What level do I need to be playing rugby at for a scholarship?

We have been helping talented young rugby players gain places in rugby teams at UK Universities for many years now. In order to get the most opportunities and receive the best offers, it’s important to keep practicing and to do as well as you possible can in your exams. As mentioned above to increase your chances of securing the best rugby scholarship possible it is also important that you have strong rugby and academic credentials. Key elements of the process that can impact how successful you are in securing a scholarship include; your academic qualifications, entrance exam scores, playing history and rugby match highlights. Coaches then look at the athlete and their potential within their university or college.

Why use a recruitment consultancy like UK Sports Scholarships

UK Sports Scholarships is like no other service provider in the world in that we only offer 50 places on our recruitment programme each year to ensure that every single player receives the necessary time and personal attention to take them through the complex process of finding a suitable school in the UK; helping them secure the best possible financial package. To help achieve this, each player is assigned their own designated representative who is with them every step of the way. If you think you have what it takes to play and study in the UK for rugby, please complete our free online application now.

At UK Sports Scholarships uses we use our vast network of contacts within the UK Collegiate system to find the right college to suit your athletic and academic capabilities. We will help guide you through every stage of the process giving you the best possible opportunity of playing in the UK.

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