Students learning lesson about life in higher grade
Promotion to National One level has undoubtedly been a steep learning curve for Loughborough Students.
But the whole purpose of playing rugby at the university is to provide an education, and Students have picked up on what is required to thrive at the level.
The team lost the first six games but have gone on to produce promotion form. They have emerged victorious in eight of their last 10 fixtures, only suffering defeats to top two, Ealing Trailblazers and Blaydon.
Performances and results have encouraged head coach Dave Morris, who knew this was going to be Loughborough's biggest challenge to date.
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He said: "The main difference is that there is a better quality of player throughout every squad. But anybody can beat anybody on their day. You always have to be switched on or you will get beat.
"There are a lot of full-time coaches and that means there are high standards and they can spend lots of time devising game-plans. Once you start building the video work up, it makes it much easier to develop a game-plan."
Morris said everybody at the club has risen to the challenge of playing at the level.
"We are loving our time in National One," he said. "That goes for everyone, including myself and our specialist coaches Scott Bemand and Jim Henry. We all feel that high level of challenge.
"It was always going to take time to find our feet but we have good players here.
"A club is always defined by the people and we have good people here.
"We lost the first six games but remained process-focused. We feel privileged to be playing at this level and always go about things in the right way.
"The first win gave us confidence and belief. It was an historic moment for the club. It was also important to back that win up."
Students' first challenge of the new year is a trip to Esher on Saturday.
South Leicester had to play catch-up in National Three Midlands but have done a superb job.
After three defeats in the first six matches, the side has won nine on the bounce and are just six points behind second-placed Sutton Coldfield.
Hinckley started out looking for consistency and a record of seven wins, one draw and seven defeats suggests they are still on that mission.
However, the team has won four of their last six league games to show that they can produce the goods on a regular basis.
The team has produced some fine results with Devon Constant and Josh Smith proving to be superb signings from Aylestone St James and Loughborough respectively.
Constant is the leading scorer with 19 tries from 15 games, while Smith has passed the 100-point mark.
Syston are hopeful of maintaining their status again and, although they are currently in the bottom three, a couple of wins would see the team join the tight mid-table pack.