Balancing a full-time college course and playing rugby for your country could be a challenge – unless you happen to be a Borders College student. Thomas Jeffrey (pictured right) and Rory Darge (pictured left) are both on full-time courses but with support from the College are able to learn locally and play nationally for Scotland.
Thomas, 18, from Peebles plays his weekend rugby with Peebles Rugby Club and trains with the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy (Borders and East Lothian branch) four times a week as well as undertaking his studies in Business at the College.
BT Academy Manager - Chris Dewsnap and Head of Faculty – Lynne Gilchrist devised a bespoke plan which would allow Thomas to complete his Level 6 Business course and at the same time take part in the BT Academy.
“I really wanted to do a business a course but also didn’t want to miss out on my rugby and because the Academy has close links with the College they were only too happy to put together a plan which gave me the best of both worlds”, commented Thomas.
Thomas has been fortunate this year to play for the national squad as a prop against Wales, France, Ireland and England making his mark in the under 18s squad.
The opportunity to craft his skill in rugby and at the same time carry on with his academic studies has only been possible with the support of a number of individuals both within the rugby fraternity and at college. Scotland under 18s coach – Ross Miller has been a key figure in the development of Thomas’s rugby both at a local and national level which has seen his ability to make a difference on the pitch improve. At College Lynne Gilchrist has ensured that the learning required for his business course has been managed and organised so that his studies are not adversely affected by the demands of playing at a national level.
Lynne Gilchrist commented: “We understand that for many students education is an important part of their lives and so is sport. We are keen to be creative and flexible with our programmes, by working with our partners, in order that our students can achieve at the highest levels both on and off the field.”
HND Sports Coaching and Development student – Rory Darge, 18, who comes from East Lothian but now studies and lives in Galashiels is another student to benefit from the innovative arrangements with the BT Academy and Borders College. Rory, who is on a two year College course, also plays nationally for the Scotland Team, studies at Borders College and trains with the Academy.
Playing locally for Melrose Rugby Club, Rory has had the call up for both the under 20s – as part of the Six Nations tournament – and Under 18s squads in recent months.
Rory has turned out for Scotland against Wales, France, England, Ireland and Italy no less than 7 times.
Speaking of Rory’s selection in the under 20s squad Course Tutor – Nikki Walker said: “Rory has worked extremely hard on and off the field to achieve this recognition and thoroughly deserves the selection. Borders College does all it can to support rugby players in their sport and academically.”
BT Academy Manager – Chris Dewsnap, speaking of the partnership with the BT Academy and Borders College said: “The partnership with the College has allowed both Thomas and Rory the opportunity to maximise their rugby exposure both in training and competition this year whilst also ensuring they have both continued to progress with their educational and career development. Having a partner who is willing to support young aspiring athletes has been excellent.”
If you are interested in furthering your career in professional Rugby, visit the Borders College websiteto find out more about the Rugby and sports programmes available.