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NRL Mailbox: NRL getting smarter

NRL.com Wed, Aug 15, 2012 - 9:00 AM

Did you know that 84% of NRL players have completed or are currently engaged in further education or workplace training?

Last week, the NRL-RLPA Academic Team of the Year was announced by Federal Minister for Tertiary Education, the Hon Chris Evans, and showcased studies as diverse as pharmacy, theology, commerce, education and small business!

The second-ever Academic Team of the Year featured NRL players from 14 clubs who between them have played 2,667 NRL matches, 30 Tests and 26 State of Origins and included Dragons’ Ben Creagh, Bulldogs’ Corey Payne, Eels’ Luke Burt, Tigers’ Chris Lawrence, and the Sea Eagles’ Matt Ballin.

Those behind the ongoing success of the game’s education and welfare strategy are the NRL-RPLA Education and Welfare Committee and club welfare and education officers who have developed programs and opportunities that the players have embraced and which have changed the face of the game.

As a result of these programs, we’ve seen a fundamental shift in the way players prepare for life after footy. Once upon a time the players who were studying and working used to be the exceptions, now it is the ones who aren’t that are in the minority.

Through the work of the Committee, the NRL and clubs, the game is investing millions of dollars each year to provide players with the opportunity to build careers outside of football. In addition, the NO WORK, NO STUDY, NO PLAY policy implemented in the Toyota Cup ensures all Under 20 players are actively engaged in the development of a post-Rugby League career.

With the support of more than $2.4 million in education grants in 2012 from the NRL and clubs, here are just some of the outcomes:

•    84% of NRL players have completed or are currently engaged in further education or workplace training

•    60 per cent of NRL and Toyota Cup players currently attending university are the first in their families to do so;

•    68 NRL players (15%) are enrolled or have completed a University Degree; a further 109 Toyota Cup players (23%) are enrolled in a University Degree;

•    264 NRL players (58%) are enrolled or have completed a Vocational Education Training (Certificate II to Diploma); another 146 Toyota Cup players (29%) are also enrolled or have completed a VET program;

•    52 NRL players (11%) have completed at least two years of a trade apprenticeship; while 68 per cent Toyota Cup players (15%) are currently working as an apprentice;

•    More than 345 education grants have been provided by the NRL-RLPA for NRL and Toyota Cup players in 2012;

•    25 per cent of Indigenous players in the Toyota Cup are attending university;

•    This year’s inaugural Under 20s State of Origin teams included eight players studying at university, five doing apprenticeships and another 16 players involved in studies ranging from Certificate 2 to Diploma level.

•    17 members of the Brisbane Broncos’ Toyota Cup squad are studying at university.

Underlining the success of the game’s education strategy this year has been the Graduates of League pilot program, a joint initiative of the Athletes Education Foundation, University of Wollongong, NRL-RLPA and St George Illawarra Dragons which aims to increase university entry, retention and completion rates of elite athletes.

As part of the program, a player receives one-on-one tuition for at least one hour per week, which is funded by the NRL Club and NRL-RLPA.

In a stunning show of its success, the ‘failure to complete’ rate dropped from 39% to just 6% with the program now set to be rolled out across the game.

The 2012 NRL-RPLA Academic Team of the Year is:

1.    Luke Burt (Parramatta Eels): Studying Bachelor of Health and Movement at ACPE and is an NRL Education Ambassador.

2.    David Simmons (Penrith Panthers):  Studying Bachelor of Theology at Moore College.

3.    Ashley Graham (North Qld Cowboys): Studying Bachelor of Sports and Exercise Science at James Cook University. Ashley was also selected in the team last year.

4.    Chris Lawrence (Wests Tigers): Studying Bachelor of Commerce at Curtin University. Chris is also a Director of ‘Live Play Work’, a company he formed that conducts sports and physical education programs in Sydney. He also runs school and community lifestyle programs and is a director of Groundwork Health, an online training and nutritional company.

5.    Dale Copley (Brisbane Broncos): Studying Bachelor of Pharmacy at University of Queensland.

6.    Ashley Harrison (Gold Coast Titans): Studying Diploma of Financial Planning and Small Business.

7.    John Morris (Cronulla Sharks): Completed Bachelor of Education/PDHPE at Newcastle University and is currently studying a Masters of Coaching at Sydney University. He is also an NRL Education Ambassador and has completed a Certificate IV in Personal Training and an Advanced Diploma of Management.

8.    Scott Geddes (South Sydney Rabbitohs): Completed a Certificate IV in Small Business and Certificates III and IV in personal fitness. Scott is a personal training company business owner and an NRL Education Ambassador.

9.    Matt Ballin (Manly Sea Eagles): Studying Bachelor of Education (Health and Movement) at ACPE, holds a Certificate IV in personal training and has started his own fitness company MBF (Matt Ballin Fitness). Matt is also an NRL Education Ambassador and was selected in the team last year.

10.    Matt Scott (North Qld Cowboys): Studying Bachelor of Business via Open Universities Australia and is an NRL Education Ambassador.

11.    Ben Creagh (St George Illawarra Dragons): Studying Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Wollongong. Ben is also an NRL Education Ambassador and has helped implement the ‘Graduates of League’ program. Ben was also selected in the team last year.

12.    Corey Payne (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs): Studying Masters of Commerce (Finance and Entrepreneurship) at the University of Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Commercial Law), also from the University of Sydney. Corey was awarded the Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2011 and is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is the Chair and Founder of the Future Direction Network, a Not for Profit organisation that helps disadvantaged children go to university. He received the 2011 NRL-RLPA Education and Welfare Award and is an NRL Education Ambassador. Corey was selected in the team last year.

13.    Micheal Luck (Warriors): Studying Masters of Business at Auckland University of Technology and is an NRL Education Ambassador.

14.    Ryan James (Gold Coast Titans): Studying Bachelor of Business at Griffith University.

15.    Anthony Quinn (Melbourne Storm): Studying Certificate IV in Building and Construction and is in his fourth year of an electrical apprenticeship.

16.    Joel Reddy (Wests Tigers): Studying Bachelor of Health and Exercise Science at the University of NSW.

17.    Bronson Harrison (Canberra Raiders): Completed Certificates III and IV in Fitness and a Certificate II in Security.  He is a director/owner of three companies (wholesale bakery/bricklaying/Leader Security) and is an NRL Education Ambassador.

For the first time, NRL Match Officials have also been recognised in the Academic Team of the Year with Tony Archer honoured for his work in studying for a Bachelor of Commerce (Sport Management) from Curtin University in Western Australia.