The Sport Ed Ex Rugby Development Programme is an innovative new opportunity for aspiring rugby players both men and women aged 18+.

The Sport Ed Ex Rugby Development Programme combines working full time with world class coaches and mentors and a wide range of playing opportunities and pathways in the UK, US and beyond (both 15 aside and 7 aside formats) with a dual accredited educational programme which challenges, supports and offers flexibility to both study and work in the UK, the US and Worldwide. The programme is designed to support the athlete’s US or UK college or university studies allowing them to remain flexible in where they participate in their education throughout their college/university years.

Why This?

Sport Ed Ex is a unique opportunity for students from all over the world to combine:

  • Participation in a full-time rugby programme led by our Men’s Director of Rugby Mike Friday (USA 7s Head Coach) and Women’s Director of Rugby Racheal Burford (England & Harlequins) supported and delivered by world class coaches with a wealth of experience in the modern game.
  • Participation in the UK’s highly competitive rugby landscape taking advantage of the numerous rugby pathways Sport Ed Ex can offer in the UK (BUCS, London Uni Sports League, National Leagues, 7s invitational franchises such as Jesters and Samurai), US (National Pathway, Major League Rugby and US universities) and Worldwide in, for example, the Southern hemisphere with our Australian and New Zealand sports and academic partner universities;
  • Studying opportunities on a variety of undergraduate degree courses and postgraduate courses at the highly regarded Richmond American University London UK which offers students the unique opportunity to graduate with a dual accredited (UK/US) degree;
  • The opportunity to extend their academic studies and rugby and academic journey with worldwide sport and academic partner institutions, for example, Australia, New Zealand or other institutions in the US.

For more information on Richmond American University London please visit their website here.

mike friday

The Sport Ed Ex team have a very clear vision about:

  • How rugby should be coached, played and provided to young men and women allowing them the opportunity to maximise their potential;
  • The fundamentals required in order to develop those who wish to excel in sport;
  • The importance of combining sporting excellence with academic acumen; and
  • The current challenges, issues, flaws in “professional” rugby and what franchises currently require from their athletes in order to succeed.

Sport Ed Ex’s view is the ultimate ambition any player or parent should seek from the game is to develop the skills which are fundamental to all sportsmen and women so that the player can utilise those skills on and off the sports field. Sport Ed Ex’s fundamental aim is to produce good people and deliver a programme that gives each player the best opportunity to maximise both their sporting potential and to achieve success in their chosen field. Sport Ed Ex believes continuing to combine performance sport with academia is vital for a player to achieve these goals – and yes you can do both!

Why Now?

The Sport Ed Ex team has observed that current rugby coaching delivery methods and the development of players at all levels and all age groups appears to be solely focussed on the ultimate outcome of becoming a professional player. Sport Ed Ex focus on a combination of delivery methods to enhance learning concepts and character development enabling the athlete to be the best he or she can be.

Accordingly, this is a perfect time to offer an alternative approach from the normal professional academies who, at times, can display the same mantra of a single pathway of becoming a professional player for their club; and other universities who cannot offer the quality and flexibility offered by the dual accredited degree status of Richmond American University.

Sport Ed Ex’s view is that the ultimate ambition or outcome any player or parent should seek from the game is to develop the skills which are fundamental to all sportsmen and women so that the player can utilise those skills howsoever he or she decides whether on the sports field or off it – whether that be as professional player, coach or in the corporate world. Sport Ed Ex’s ultimate ambition is to produce good people and give them the opportunity to become professional athletes or a success in their chosen field.

“Good People become successful athletes both on and off the sports field.”


Why Us?

We offer the combination of:

  • World class sporting performers and coaches
  • The unique opportunity to study at a dual accredited (US/UK) university and all the flexibility that entails
  • Due to our unparalleled reach and contacts in the game of rugby, we are able to access a high number of playing and training pathway opportunities in both in the 15s and 7s format in the UK, US and worldwide.

The Sport Ed Ex founders are a product of our own model and are evidence of what can be achieved by being exposed to a sport and educational environment which focuses on combining individual development; performance coaching; and the creation of a culture of self-belief and being part of something bigger than oneself, with a splattering of talent.


Mike Friday – Director of Rugby


Racheal Burford – Director of Women’s Rugby

World Class Coaches

Stephen Shortland – Founder and Managing Director

James Brooks- Senior Coach

David Fitzgerald Founder and Managing Director

Rugby Development and Playing Programme

All coaching, competition and athlete development is tailored daily around the high number of academic courses available at Richmond American University London.

A full time rugby programmes that offers a fully professional insight and participation in training and playing opportunities in the UK and worldwide. Involvement requires full commitment from the athlete in challenging themselves in the sporting and educational environments set daily.

A mentor will share their knowledge, skills and/or experience, to help the athlete to develop and grow. Our coaches will provide guidance to the athlete on their goals and help them reach their full potential.

Our experienced coaches possess excellent coaching knowledge with specific attention paid to a sound coaching philosophy, creating a reliable practice of self reflection and review, understanding the importance of communication, and shaping the environment of practices and competitions to lead to highly effective experiences for the players.


Rugby Development and Playing Programme

The Sport Ed Ex rugby programme is supported by sports psychology, strength and conditioning (Athletic Development), nutrition and analysis components in order to give each athlete a full insight into their ongoing development.

Strength & Conditioning (Athlete Development)

Our S&C sessions are designed to study the fundamental principles of rugby specific training and athletic development. We develop athletes knowledge and understanding of the anatomical and physiological systems within the human body and help the athlete gain an insight into rugby conditioning, strength training, and an awareness of fitness in order to enhance individual and team performance in competition. This knowledge should translate into the ability for them to design and implement various rugby conditioning programmes independently as well as guided. 

Sports Psychology

Our Sports Psychologists focus on the study of human behaviour in rugby settings. They provide the athlete with information about research in the field of sport and exercise psychology as well as practical knowledge to become a more independent and successful athlete. Sport and exercise psychology provides us with knowledge to bridge the gap between research and practice that can help athletes have a positive effect on their performance.


This area covers the principles of sound nutrition related to high performance athletes. With the growing focus on performance enhancing foods and daily nutritional intake, we aim to guide athletes towards a basic understanding of the variety of healthy foods, choices, and habits available, to be used in today’s quest to enhance team and individual rugby performance.

Analysis of Performance

Our interactive team and individual performance analysis is a specialised discipline that provides athletes and coaches with objective information that helps them understand performance. This process is underpinned by systematic observation, which provides valid, reliable, and detailed information relating to rugby performance.

Rugby Player Reviews take place daily through coaching methods and coach interaction but a formal review of the players progress both on and off the field takes place termly. This review also links in with the Richmond American University London Academic Review Structure. 

Sport Ed Ex Experience what’s included:

  • High level daily coaching sessions
  • Training & playing kit  
  • Sports Science – Full access to sports science and athlete development lectures throughout the year
  • Pitch side medical support 
  • Match play and Competition
  • Performance Analysis 
  • Video analysis
  • Nutrition advice 
  • Sports psychology support 
  • Athlete development – strength and conditioning 
  • Social & Culture experience
  • Transportation to BUCs team fixtures
  • Pastoral Care & Support 
  • Personalised guidance, mentoring & emotional wellbeing  support
  • Guidance on all necessary visas and educational applications
  • Technical training:
    • Focus on both generic core and position-specific skills.
    • Specific skill development eg scrum, lineout, kicking.
  • Tactical training:
    • Understanding the game, both position- and team-specific. Adhering to game plans, and understanding tactical analysis

The Sports Development Programme, Educational Fees and Visa is valued at £28,650 (international student) and £24,250 (UK Student) per year all inclusive.

Additional costs include:

  • Accommodation – costs vary depending on accommodation choices.
  • 7s Festival playing and traveling opportunities UK, Europe Worldwide.
  • Rugby tour and educational experiences UK and abroad.