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Friday 22 February 2019

Sports students from Solent University got a sneak peek at what Wales will be up against during their clash with England during the Six Nations match tomorrow (23 February), when they were given the opportunity to watch a training session, as part of the England Rugby Mentorship Programme.

The six students got to watch the England squad warm up and complete their high intensity training session, before chatting to the players and getting photos with their rugby heroes.

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George Vivian, who is doing a BA (Hons) Physical Education degree, had a great day watching the session and meeting the team: “This opportunity allowed us to not only go and watch some of the best players in the world perform in a sport they are famous for, but also to watch elite level coaches carry out the highest quality training session.”

Asked who he most enjoyed watching during the training session he said: “The England forwards coach, Steve Borthwick. His presence on the pitch and the respect he has from the players allowed him to fully push every player to get the best out of them. But if I was going to have to say player… Manu Tuilagi was looking a bit dangerous.”

His highlight of the day? “… Watching Eddie Jones’ (England Head Coach) manner and demeanour within the training session. The style and approach he took, I found amazing to watch.”

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The University’s England Rugby Mentorship Programme started in 2010, is the first of its kind between a university and England Rugby. Students are recruited onto a three-year mentored internship programme, which runs alongside their degree and supports the local rugby clubs and schools, as well as the students’ individual development.

Solent University’s Coach Development Manager, Paul Davies, says: “Our partnership with England Rugby embraces the values of both organisations and provides Solent students with a first-class mentorship experience. These students are taken on a journey where they are immersed into the world of Rugby, leading and supporting on the delivery of a number of England Rugby’s key initiatives in the Hampshire area.

Students have the opportunity to referee at county, school and college tournaments; organise a major schools county tournament; provide coaching to local schools; and engage with Hampshire County Player Development and Youth Sides. They also support player development at local clubs – youth to adult.

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George went on to say that the programme is helping with his studies and career aspirations: “The scheme is giving me lots of opportunities to go into schools and teach rugby. My plan for after university is to become a teacher so this scheme has allowed me to gain so much more work experience than others on my course. I am also linking my dissertation in with the work I do with women’s rugby.”

The mentoring programme also provides a student workforce to assist England Rugby, county, professional and amateur clubs by developing coaches, and increasing participation and performance.

Ivan Torpey, England Rugby Development officer says: “The close working relationship and trust between University staff and England Rugby Development Team has developed a first class programme which provides meaningful opportunities for the students. For rugby it provides an extended quality workforce which allows the game to be developed to a wider section of the rugby community.