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Home / Latest News / Cardiff Medical School rugby team facing sporting wilderness after change to university sport rules

Cardiff Medical School rugby team facing sporting wilderness after change to university sport rules

A century-old rugby club which has produced 10 Welsh internationals in the past 60 years faces being cast into the sporting wilderness, despite the objections of British Lions hero Jamie Roberts.

Cardiff Medicals RFC has been the representative club of students studying medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, nursing and other healthcare degrees in Cardiff for more than 100 years.

But alongside Cardiff Medical School’s football, hockey and netball teams, the rugby club faces exclusion from British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS), the national governing body for higher education sport in the UK.

New rules do not allow a single educational institution to compete as two separate teams.

As Cardiff Medical School has existed as an arm of Cardiff University for the past eight years separate Cardiff University and Medical School teams will no longer be allowed to compete in BUCS national competitions.

Thousands of people have subsequently signed a petition demanding that medical school teams are kept as standalone clubs.


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Among them is Roberts, who will this week graduate from the medical school.

He said: “I feel a huge amount of pride in being associated with the medics rugby team.

“Despite having not been able to wear the coveted jersey due to my professional playing commitments, I feel it is one of my clubs as such; a very proud club steeped in tradition and history. “One glance at the names who’ve worn the shirt in the past confirms this: Dr Jack [Matthews], Gwyn Jones, Richard Parks, Mathew Wintle, the list goes on.

“Not only exceptional players in their day but special people who are part of a very special group of people, The Cardiff Medics RFC.

“Maybe one day, after my professional career is over, I’ll get to join the list of players who’ve represented the club so well.”

He tweeted: “Gutted with what’s happening at present with regards to BUCS sport.

It’s paramount it remains a standalone club.

“Trying to get as many people as possible to sign the petition to keep medical school rugby teams as standalone clubs.

“So if you’ve 20 seconds spare and care about university rugby, sign it please.”

A campaign spokesman said: “The reasons [BUCS] give are that it is unfair for some departments within universities to represent themselves in universities leagues.

“However, despite constant reminding that until eight years ago Cardiff Medical School were a completely separate institution and have historically represented themselves at the highest level of sport (along with many other reasons such as our busy timetables not allowing us to commit to training with university teams) they see fit to remove us from the leagues.

“We hope you can understand how much our clubs mean to us.

“We have a history of over 100 years of playing top flight, high quality sport.

“If we are successfully removed from BUCS, we will be forced to enter local leagues at far lower divisions than we deserve.

“This will lead to a fall in participation and subsequently the loss of our clubs.”

Cardiff Medicals RFC gained WRU status in 1946 having formed some 40 years earlier.

The club currently fields two sides in BUCS leagues and boasts former players including Welsh internationals Dr Jack Matthews, Gwyn Jones and Richard Parks.

A spokesman for the club said: “Medical school rugby is very important to us and, though rugby is our cause, it is the social aspect of our club that defines us.

“Life friendships are made between members and the club has always, and still does, all it can to support its members and ensure that all are looked after in every aspect of their student lives.”

Despite protests Cardiff University have supported the move by BUCS.

A university spokesman said: “We believe that all our students should have the option of being able to represent the university at the highest level across the range of sports on offer.

“We are fully aware of students’ views regarding the proposed changes in the BUCS membership: the separate medical school teams have a long history and are valued by students and alumni who play and have played for the medics teams.

“However, we would be concerned about students being excluded from sport, if the medical school remained a separate BUCS member under the new BUCS rules.

“The university and students union have been working extensively with the clubs impacted by the changes in the BUCS framework.

“We are making appropriate arrangements in order that medical sport teams have an opportunity to compete in sporting frameworks in the coming years.”

A spokesman for BUCS said: “BUCS has received formal notification from Cardiff University concerning the participation of its medical school students.

“This is now a matter for the university, and BUCS considers this issue closed.”

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