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UK's Sport Ed Ex Combines Performance Rugby with Higher Education

irish rugby tours

UK's Sport Ed Ex Combines Performance Rugby with Higher Education

Find out more about Sport Ed Ex at

An innovative overseas playing and educational opportunity for college rugby players, both men and women, is making an outreach to the USA.

This new opportunity in London, UK offers performance training and playing pathways for athletes built on a foundation of an excellent and unique education that doesn’t compromise the athletes' US college credits and allows them to remain flexible in where they participate in their education throughout their college years.

Sport Ed Ex hooks up college-age rugby players with a performance rugby development coaching program and a wide range of university and club-based playing opportunities and a dual accredited (US/UK) degree and postgraduate studying opportunity in the UK at Richmond American University London as well as globally via its network of partner universities. These athletes work within the coaching structure at Sport Ed Ex led by the Men’s Director of Rugby USA Men’s 7s Head Coach Mike Friday, and Women’s Director of Rugby former England star and current Harlequin Rachael Burford. 

Rugby an Education Launch Point

Founders and Managing Directors of Sport Ed Ex are Stephen Shortland and David Fitzgerald. Both ex-professional players having played extensively in the UK and represented England either at the age-grade level or senior level. Their mutual experiences on and off the playing field have driven the ethos behind this new opportunity to return players’ focus to combining elite sport which challenges the player at the appropriate level, higher education and world-wide travel.

“It’s important for players not only to be developed and coached on the field but to also carry on with their studies at university,” said Fitzgerald, who, having finished his professional rugby career, practiced corporate law in England with leading UK and US law firms after earning a law degree at University of Wales, Swansea.

The idea around Sport Ed Ex is to provide an experience that might be a single year abroad where an athlete could play and study in the UK, or it could be a full four years of study and playing in the UK and/or one of Sport Ed Ex’s global partner universities whilst, in either case, not extending an athlete’s undergraduate or postgraduate study periods.

Developing the Whole Person

“Rugby players want to play at a high level,” said Shortland, who served as Director of Sport at two UK schools with high academic and exceptional rugby pedigree, Millfield School and Wellington College, was England U16 and U18 head coach and has degrees from Loughborough University and Carnegie College of Leeds University. “But playing at a high level and becoming a professional should not be their sole ambition. What rugby players should pursue also is an educational and rugby platform from which to launch a career and to help their personal development through a variety of cultural experiences.

“This is a really exciting and unique project to be a part of as I am passionate about helping individuals develop holistically as people," added Friday, the Director of Men's Rugby for the program. "Whilst I believe the values of rugby embodies many forms of development, it needs to be complemented with other experiences in life. Education and social development that university life offers brings that additional balance as well as laying long term foundations and opportunities beyond the game in later years. I am heavily and emotionally invested in helping the rugby talent within the USA to develop to their full potential. Being able to help create this innovative pathway which enables aspirational players to be immersed in a rugby rich landscape and benefit from a daily training environment and appropriate individual playing program, provides these players with the opportunities to push on with their own ambitions, hopefully striving to play for the National teams, be that at 15s or 7s.” 

There's a Place for HP, and Classwork

Sport Ed Ex’s view is the ultimate ambition any player or parent should seek from the game is to develop the skills which are fundamental to all sportsmen and women so that the player can utilize those skills on and off the sports field. Sport Ed Ex’s fundamental aim is to provide its athletes with a breadth of knowledge and skills and deliver a program that gives each player the best opportunity to maximize both their sporting potential and to achieve success in their chosen field. Sport Ed Ex believes continuing to combine performance sport with academia is vital for a player to achieve these goals. You can do both.

For more information on Sport Ed ExX and this exciting new project visit their website at or contact the Sport Ed Ex team at

See their brochure here>>