Up and coming rugby players will now have the opportunity to learn on and off the field thanks to an enhanced high performance pathway created by the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union and Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.
The Bay of Plenty Rugby Union and Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology High Performance Rugby Pathway (HPRP) is the first venture of its kind and will change the way athletes learn and develop their skills.
The HPRP is a one-year programme aimed at recent school leavers and is designed to improve rugby athletes’ self-development in the areas of nutrition, exercise physiology, performance testing, sports psychology, and sport technology while formally studying for the course Cert4Fitness.
Bay of Plenty Rugby Union General Manager Pathways and Experience Ati Aaifou-Olive says this initiative will see Toi Ohomai and Bay of Plenty Rugby become world leaders in rugby education.
“This is very exciting for us. Our future is our people and we believe if we assist our players’ journey to be a better person in all aspects of life then the rugby will look after itself.”
Toi Ohomai Academic Leader Sport Ruth Naidoo says the pathway offers aspiring rugby players with the opportunity to focus time and attention to developing their rugby skills and game, but also with a more holistic approach to developing themselves as people.
“Both Toi Ohomai and BOPRU have a strong commitment to purposeful connections across community and industry which is evident in this pathway. At the heart it aims to grow capable and resilient communities through health, inclusivity, engagement, education and capability.”
Ruth says the pathway will be an all-encompassing programme which includes high performance rugby coaching and development, pastoral care, learning and study in an exercise instruction and leadership context which will allow students to achieve a qualification.
She says this partnership is significant as it demonstrated Toi Ohomai and Bay Rugby’s commitment to the local community, through shared values and aspirations for local rangatahi.
“At the end of the programme they may be selected for a range of high-performance rugby teams. On successful completion of the required assessments they will also be awarded a Level 4 Certificate, which is actually two nationally recognised qualifications, the New Zealand Certificate in Exercise (Level 4) and the New Zealand Certificate in Freestyle Group Exercise (Level 4), that aligns with REPS accreditation (Register of Exercise Professionals).”
Ruth says this double qualification means graduates will be able to work in a gym or exercise facility as a personal trainer or exercise consultant.
“They will have developed skills to be leaders at their home rugby clubs. They will have the knowledge to guide and inspire whānau on healthy eating and physical activity.”
By Toi Ohomai and BOPRU working together, the student-athlete remains at the centre of the programme, and gets the best of both institutions.
“The partnership means that the programme can be tailored to include the required training, skill development and education components in the most ideal way. This includes structuring the week to facilitate all these needs. In this way students are not choosing between their sport and their study, but able to work, grow and excel in both areas.”
Ati says some high school leavers are not ready for a high-performance rugby environment and this pathway will help them develop the skills and resilience needed.
“This course provides players the foundation to learn and understand the expectations of being in a high-performance rugby programme. Our traditional structure of our academy will not be the same moving forward and we are very excited to be the first provincial union in NZ to offer a full-time high-performance rugby course to players in NZ and to the world.
“We are not just providing a rugby pathway for players, but we are also setting up our young people with a qualification and a pathway to a career after rugby, more important if our young players do not progress onto becoming a professional rugby player we know we have set them up into a work career pathway.”
Currently Bay Rugby has between 30 and 40 male and female players in its BOP Rugby Academy programme yearly, but the new pathway will provide the ability to have 100 placements in the programme in three locations Tauranga, Rotorua and Whakatane.
“We are very excited to be able to deliver our high-performance programme to more local talent in our communities and outside our region.”