Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Students Proving Rugby League Here Is Getting Stronger

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Students Proving Rugby League Here Is Getting Stronger

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith Sports writer @markismith50

RUGBY league continues to make major strides in the region, Northumbria University this week contesting their rst ever national nal.

ey meet Leeds Beckett in tomorrow's British University and College Sports Championship decider, the game being held at Loughborough University as part of a huge student multi-sport festival called Big BUCS Wednesday.

Coached by Newcastle under captain Jason Payne, Northumbria nished second to Leeds Beckett in the regular-season Premiership, their rise to the medal match serving as a mark of their gradual improvement under Payne's management.

"is is the rst time we have managed to get through to the Championship nal and it is a massive achievement for the lads to break into that top two," said the Yorkshireman.

"It is the biggest competition in student rugby league and it shows the investment and time we have put into the players has been worthwhile.

"People have been starting to take notice of us for a little while now because we have been comfortably in the top four for the past few years, but making it to the nal might have a caught a few by surprise."

" Earning their place through a 46-4 seminal thumping of Nottingham Trent, Northumbria's presence in the nal also secures them a starting spot in next season's Challenge Cup.

"It is great that the university have backed rugby league," said Payne.

"Everyone knows Northumbria's big rugby union background, but they have been great with me. ey have put more time in with it so I can get it the way I want it to be, the back-room support has been fantastic and the players' hard work has paid o." He added: "I have been doing the job for four years now. I head up the whole programme and work on the recruitment as well as the coaching side to make sure we have got a competitive squad every year.

"We had a good team when I started but we sat down and spoke about how we could kick it on to the next level by changing the culture within the whole club. …

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