A COLLEGE in Oxford has become one of only eight in the country to be given England Rugby Partner College status.

The rugby initiative delivered at City of Oxford College was previously the Wasps ACE [Academy, Colleges and Education] Programme, in partnership with the former Gallagher Premiership side.

Wasps entered administration in October, a fate which resulted in the club losing their Premiership status amid more than 160 people losing their jobs.

Last month, the club announced it would return for the 2023/24 season and will play in the Championship, the second tier in England.

That was after their takeover, led by former director Christopher Holland, was approved by the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

Replacing the Wasps ACE Programme in Oxford is the newly named Activate Rugby Academy, which has been given the England Rugby Partner College status.

Martin Unsworth, academies co-ordinator at City of Oxford College, said: “We are proud to facilitate excellence and maintain a balance.

“Education and training go hand in hand, and we give our learners and players the very best opportunity to succeed.

“Activate Learning is committed to supporting aspiring young rugby players into professional playing careers and the exciting rebrand to Activate Rugby Academy shows this.”

Boys’ head coach Alex Guest, who was previously junior academy manager at Gloucester Rugby, was also excited by the England Rugby Partner College status.

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He said: “The boys’ programme is continuing to rise to the top of the college game with another strong outing in the prestigious RFU ACE League.

“On the field, the programme is succeeding, and we are matching this in the classroom.

“We have excellent accommodation to offer prospective students and the academic offering is wide-ranging to suit and support their future progressions.”

Pat Metcalfe-Jones, girls’ head coach, added: “This is an excellent achievement for the City of Oxford College.

“While the girls’ rugby programme is still in its infancy, the achievement of England Rugby Partner College status demonstrates our rapidly growing presence in the female game.”

Activate Rugby Academy offers both boys and girls aged between 16 and 18 the opportunity to combine academic studies with a rugby development programme at the college.