Bishop Burton College is proving a magnet for top rugby union club Leicester Tigers.
With their third pre-season training camp at the college, near Beverley, finishing this week with a game for the Academy side agagainst Driffield at Kelleythorpe on Thursday (7pm), the Tigers are keen on returning for a fourth year.
The news is a further boost for Bishop Burton’s growing reputation as a sporting centre of excellence.
James Earl, director of sport and sporting partnerships, said that being able to host a club of Leicester’s stature was a tribute to the college’s great facilities for playing and for fitness.
“We have everything here so that the players can fully focus on the job at hand in a wonderful environment,” he said.
“We hosted the full Leicester first-team squad last August before the start of their Premiership-winning season and this time the emphasis is on the stars of the future with the club’s Academy players and elite player development squad being here.”
Neill McCarthy, Leicester’s Academy coach, said that the Tigers wanted to extend the association with Bishop Burton and hoped to be back again next year.
The under-16s from Canadian champions Ontario Blues, who were part of the Leicester camp, also plan to return.
“It has been a great experience for the 40 players we have brought over,” said head coach George Burford. “It will develop them as players as well as giving them experience of another country.”
The Blues, with whom Leicester has forged a strong relationship, hope to have double the number at next year’s camp and believe it will boost interest in rugby in their country.
Mr McCarthy added that the training camp was part of Leicester’s world-class player development programme.
“We have a very good conversion rate of players coming into our Academy and making the grade at top level,” he said.
No8 forward Ed Milne, who is in his final year with the Academy, said: “We’ve put in some intense training and it has been a vital part of our build-up for the new season.”
British Lions Ben and Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Billy Twelvetrees and Manu Tuilagi are all products of the Academy. The college’s relationship with the club includes an ongoing sponsorship of England scrum half Ben Youngs.
Tosh Askew, assistant Academy coach and a former Driffield player, said: “Our training and fitness work has gone well and we are looking forward to putting it into practice in the game at Kelleythorpe.”
Bishop Burton College is also attracting football and rugby league clubs as part of its wide-ranging sports programme.
As one of the finest land-based colleges, Bishop Burton has a national reputation for quality. It is the only college in the UK to hold Centre of Vocational Excellence status in both Agriculture and Equine. The College offers a wide range of courses for students seeking further or higher education, and top quality conference facilities and training services for business use.
The College holds numerous public events throughout the year, with the most popular being Lambing Sunday (March) and Town & Country Day (May). The Bishop Burton Equine Arena regularly hosts national equestrian competitions and events and in 2014 will host the FEI European Junior Eventing Championships.