Education with a rugby flavour

James Porter of BOP Rugby and Ruth Naidoo of Toi Ohomai at the state of the art training facilities available to students.

‘Learn by doing’ is the motto as Bay of Plenty Rugby and Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology combine to deliver a new course in Tauranga this year.

The Cert4Rugby Programme is a one-year course which will see students blending high class rugby training into their education while studying for the New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (Level 4) and New Zealand Certificate in Freestyle Group Exercise (Level 4).

“They have a couple of national certificates that they currently run up at Toi Ohomai,” James Porter, high performance coach and player development manager at BOP Rugby explains.

“We have aligned with that current programme and are just going to add a rugby flavour. The students come out with a couple of qualifications and they get a 36-week programme with us learning rugby so we are pretty excited about it.”

Students will have the use of impressive facilities including a swimming pool, high-end cardio machines and a variety of weight training equipment.

Ruth Naidoo is academic lead for sport at Toi Ohomai. She is hopeful that the synergy between rugby and study can help students shine.

“They come into this environment and they excel. One because we know them and care about them but two because it is their passion all the time.

“They’ve got to put the mahi in but that belief and self-esteem, that grows them straight away.”

Ruth is also optimistic that the course will help inspire some of the students to continue their education, even if it is away from sport.

“It opens doors to further study which is something we really encourage students to do.”

James agrees.

“For 99 percent of the people on the course, I think it will be the first year of tertiary study. If we turn around and we've got people that carry on to do diplomas or degrees that’s a great outcome.”

This year is essentially a pilot programme for the course. Success will help launch a roll-out across campuses at Rotorua and Whakatane, as well as Tauranga, in 2022.

The high level of training and study should have a knock-on impact to local clubs and communities that the three hubs serve.

James is confident that new leaders will be generated from the course, inspiring others to potentially follow suit in those communities.

“They come in every day and they learn, they train, they get analysed, they are supported then they are playing for our clubs. Clubs and communities are going to be benefiting from having these students that are almost living semi-professional rugby lives.

“Part of this is they have to play club rugby so they have to give back to the clubs and communities.”

Not only will the students pick up vital qualifications and give back to their communities, but those who thrive in the athletic sphere have a pathway to high performance training available to them.

“There are plenty of opportunities,” James says.

“If they progress really well then there is potential for them to join the high performance unit of the Bay.

“There’s a real pathway here.”

However, James is bullish that with these added qualifications, avenues to further study and the impact on local clubs and communities, success will not be gauged on that particular scale.

“One per cent make it. It could be a kid that is sitting in here. We don’t know. But what can we do? We can make an impact in their life and they can go and make an impact somewhere else.”

Ruth agrees. “Rugby is the vehicle. It is a vehicle for self-growth.

“Whether they become the next All Black or not, that’s a really great story. But if we get one All Black but 20 people that are making a difference to their communities in a positive space, that’s an even bigger story.”

Term starts February 22, 2021. The course has received plenty of interest so far but Ruth and James both confirmed there is space available for enrolment this year for any budding student athletes.

“Students are going to get first-class delivery, coaching, and tutoring,” James assured. “We will make sure they have an amazing 2021.”

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