Rugby star James Hudson is guest speaker at Hartpury

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Former Gloucester Rugby player James Hudson has provided Hartpury University students with a valuable insight into a career in sports nutrition.

The Kingsholm favourite retired from professional rugby in 2016 because of injury, but he has continued to play a key role at Gloucester Rugby as a performance nutritionist within the Premiership club’s backroom team.

James, who has a masters degree in biochemistry and an International Olympic Committee postgraduate diploma in sports nutrition, has shared his industry experience and knowledge during lectures to final-year students on the BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Nutrition degree course.

“The understanding of the science behind sports nutrition is certainly growing, which is mirrored by the fact that most Premiership clubs now have someone in that role,” said James, who is currently working towards a PhD in sports nutrition.

“From playing a bit-part, it is now a massive piece of the jigsaw in ensuring that players are sufficiently refuelled after games to enable them to perform at their best in training and in the next match.

“Away from professional sports clubs, there’s also a greater understanding among the general population about the health benefits of eating the right food – it’s a really exciting topic.

“For the students, that means there are now many different career routes for them to go down after they graduate from Hartpury, whether that’s on the applied side as a practitioner, or as a researcher.”

Students enrolled on the BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Nutrition degree course examine the science of the effects of nutrition on athletic performance.

James, who visited Hartpury before the coronavirus pandemic, added: “The course provides students with a real insight into the different avenues that are open to them – it’s a good programme.

“I’m a great believer that if you want to be a good sports nutrition practitioner, you need to know what the science looks like on a plate.

“The teaching kitchen at Hartpury provides students with a fantastic opportunity to gain real-life experience through preparing meals that are specific to different sports – it’s a massive plus for the course.

“It’s real hands-on learning and that’s a big improvement on what students will have access to at other universities and colleges.

“I enjoy passing on my evidence-based knowledge and experience to the students, but I also gain from the interaction with them during the sessions because they’re able to provide fresh perspectives and new ideas.”

Students enrolled on the BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Nutrition degree course at Hartpury benefit from studying in a professional club-style environment, working with talented athletes and Hartpury’s connections with major sports clubs and governing bodies.

Nura Alwan, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition at Hartpury, said: “We’d like to thank James and all the other fantastic nutrition practitioners who have come in to speak – our students really appreciate it.

“An important aspect of the BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Nutrition is providing our students with access to key people in the industry to provide them with real-world experience to help inform their future career choices.”

Picture: James Hudson at Hartpury

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