The Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) and Australia’s leaders in providing access to online higher education, Open Universities Australia (OUA), are pleased to announce an extension of their successful partnership, until the end of 2021.

The partnership has already seen five players directly benefit from OUA’s status as Official Education Partner of the Players, with Jemima Henry, Yasmin Meakes, Harrison Orr, Darcy Swain and Caleb Timu all selected to receive Personal Excellence Scholarships since the partnership’s inception in mid-2018, following more than six years’ informal association.

‘Educating our RUPA members during their journey through a Rugby career is a priority,’ RUPA CEO Justin Harrison said. ‘Providing an opportunity to access Tertiary Education is vital for the personal development and post-playing career preparation that every RUPA member needs to be acutely aware of.’

‘We recognise that the journey of a professional Rugby player, from starting with junior and Club Rugby to playing the sport for a living, has a finite and uncertain duration. We have a duty of care to our members to ensure that they are equipped with the knowledge and qualifications to succeed when their professional playing journey is complete.

‘The flexible study options provided by OUA are an ideal fit for athletes looking to balance their sporting careers with their passion for learning and I’m delighted that OUA sees value in the relationship and are committing to enhancing the life journey of Australia’s Rugby players.’

Rhys James, OUA’s Corporate Partnerships Manager, said that OUA is delighted to extend its long association with RUPA.

‘We remain totally committed to supporting elite athletes to achieve academic excellence and pursue their career objectives,’ said Mr James.

‘OUA recognises that while combining playing and training commitments with study is never easy, the flexibility of online study, choice of subjects and support can only help a player to achieve their personal and professional goals.’

As well as offering four annual Personal Excellence Scholarships to players, including current and past Super Rugby, Super W, Rugby Sevens and NRC players, the partnership also sees OUA sponsor the Academic Achievement Award at the industry leading BDO Rugby Players Lunch.

The Academic Achievement Award is presented annually at the BDO Rugby Players Lunch in December to a current player who has undertaken and excelled in their education. Rather than being a ‘dux’ style award, it reflects the players’ dedication and commitment to his or her personal or professional development across a broad range of studies and is not confined to university level education.

As part of the upgraded extension, OUA will also sponsor the Players’ Choice Super Rugby Team of the Year, voted on by the players and announced at the Lunch, as well as an exciting new content series to appear on the RUPA website in 2020.

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