OXFORD Harlequins have launched a new link-up which will enable students to continue their rugby education, writes JAMES ROBERTS.

The South West 1 East outfit have strengthened their ties with Oxford Brookes University (OBURFC) by increasing opportunities for talented players on and off the pitch.

The partnership will provide an elite performance pathway for students looking to continue their development at Quins, while taking part in projects in the workplace and the wider community.

Stuart Wells, the club’s director of rugby, explained it would help cement their long-term goal of competing in the national leagues.

He said: “This new partnership with Oxford Brookes is, in my view, the most important that the club has formed.

“It will, in essence, provide us with a senior academy that strengthens our playing capability, improves player welfare by facilitating rotation, and enables resource-sharing in coaching, support staff and equipment – all to the mutual long term benefit of Oxford Quins and Oxford Brookes.”

The scheme is Quins’ latest ‘strategic partnership’, similar to their link with the Rugby Football Union as a host club for one of the governing body’s 3G pitches at Horspath Sports Ground.

This saw Quins win facility development of the year at the 2019 National Rugby Awards and it was around that time the club began talks with Brookes.

Initial discussions centred around increasing the talent pool available to the sixth-tier side, while giving the best student players the chance to compete at a high level.

One of those was George Amphlett, Brookes’ 1st XV captain in 2019/20, who believes Quins offer the perfect platform for rising stars.

He said: “Playing at Oxford Harlequins has given me access to modern, knowledgeable and enthusiastic coaches whilst providing high quality physios to meet the needs and requirements of men’s rugby.

“This announcement will be hugely beneficial for us as players, providing us with all the materials that we require to improve as players and people.”

Brookes director of rugby, Joe Winpenny, added: “This commitment to supporting excellence really is a benchmark moment for all currently involved with OBURFC, and for all prospective student athletes who are looking to combine a performance university sporting experience with a first-class education.

“This work will provide valuable additional resource, support and opportunities for our players so that they can continue to develop as people both on and off the pitch, whether through community engagement projects or transitioning through to Oxford Harlequins senior teams.”