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Blues a class act

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Isa Nacewa and other Blues and Auckland NPC players take a break from Eden Park studies and training for a taste of campus life at AUT University’s new business school.

Blues a class act

A group of Auckland NPC and Blues players are preparing for life after pro rugby by studying business at AUT University.

Ben Atiga, Tasesa Lavea, David Gibson, John Afoa, Angus McDonald, Derren Whitcombe, Rudi Wulf, Jerome Kaino, Isa Nacewa, Jamie Helleur and Brad Mika are among those studying.

They are planning for the future now, says the Business Faculty dean, Professor Des Graydon.

“These players have huge opportunities ahead of them. We are matching proven talent and leadership with business acumen.”

AUT University grants 15 scholarships a year to Auckland NPC and Blues players. The university has tailored the two-year course to suit the demands of a tight training schedule – including holding classes at Eden Park where they train.

Isa Nacewa says studying for a diploma in business gives him the opportunity to gain a practical qualification while playing professional rugby.

“It’s great, too, because it gives us good life balance."

Professor Graydon says fitting the rigours of training around studying is ambitious but achievable.

The Blues professional development manager Bryn Nyberg agrees. She is confident the course will equip the players for careers after rugby, particularly in business entrepreneurship.

"The players are very aware their rugby careers have a limited time span and of the importance of laying the groundwork for their future beyond rugby. Our unique partnership with AUT has made it possible for the players to study fulltime during their professional rugby training."

Players use IBM-donated laptops – which they keep upon course completion – and are allowed concessions like eating in class.

AUT senior lecturer Roy Smollan, who travels to Eden Park each week to give lectures, says it is about being flexible to meet the needs of a demanding training schedule.

“They are an exciting and unique group of students,” he says, “and they have been a pleasure to work with.”


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