Student entrepreneur's non-profit academy to level the playing field for young rugby players


A Hartpury University student and former finalist of a Hartpury business competition is helping young state-educated rugby players realise their potential, through a series of free resources including half term and summer camps that will model an elite training environment.

George Paul, a third-year BA (Hons) Sports Business Management student at Hartpury University and former finalist in the institution’s Dragons Den-style Enterprise Finals, co-founded the non-profit AdviceAcademy to begin levelling the playing field. As part of the Enterprise Finals, George won a share of the £6,000 award fund and mentoring from Ian Renouf-Watkins of Renouf Wealth Management.

His joint initiative, AdviceAcademy, offers training camps as well as help and support across several areas including strength and conditioning, nutrition and mental health. The organisation aims to break down barriers and ultimately widen inclusivity in the sport. Both George and his business partner Will Jones who is studying Physiotherapy at the University of East Anglia, believes that a rugby player’s journey into elite sport shouldn’t be affected by their academic and socio-economic background.

The first camp is set to take place from 20-22 February 2023 at Drybrook RFC and will be open to male and female 14–16-year-olds. The three-day event sponsored by Freemans Event Partners will create an inclusive and engaging environment to push the young players and develop them both technically and as individuals. Hartpury staff and students will work at the camp alongside other industry professionals. Canterbury NZ has provided a full kit investment for players and coaches.

George said: “We set up AdviceAcademy in 2020 after noticing just how much talent was going unnoticed among rugby players who weren’t involved with academy structures or fee-paying schools. We decided to set up as a community interest company, allowing us to start the important work of ensuring equal opportunities for all players.

“We have Hartpury staff and students working at the camp as well as professional Gloucester players and elite individuals like Leeds United's nutritionist coming down. Our camp mimics an elite environment for these state-educated rugby players who wouldn’t normally get the opportunity.”

Thomas Legge, Associate Head of Sport at Hartpury University, said: “We’re incredibly proud of George and the work he’s put in to establishing AdviceAcademy. This is an outstanding example of an individual that’s applying their entrepreneurial spirit in a philanthropical way to make a difference in a sport that he cares so passionately about. George is a superb student and his success in last year’s Enterprise Finals came as no surprise to those of us that know him best. We can’t wait to see how AdviceAcademy grows in the months to come.

“We aim to encourage all our sports business management students to pursue their entrepreneurial and community-led ambitions, aiming to support them through things like the Sports Business Hub that links students with industry partners for key real-world projects. We also work closely with business to formulate degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate level that remain fit for purpose and aligned with the current needs of business.”

The Hartpury Sport Business Hub has had a number of key success stories including the appointment of master’s student Estella Maloney-Danvers by Hockey Wales to carry out a consultancy project into equality, diversity and inclusion. Elsewhere, fellow student Noah Geltman was assigned to an exciting eco clubhouse project for Bream RFC.

Hartpury’s Enterprise Finals return on 14 February with another exciting line-up of college and university students. Students apply by the deadline at the end of January, submitting their plan or idea and a short 60-second elevator pitch. The finalists are then supported throughout the year from September with 1:1 Enterprise consultations as well as a series this year that has been supported by Natwest covering many business themes.

The event is organised by Hartpury’s Innovation, Careers and Enterprise (ICE) Centre. The centre is an integral part of college and university life helping students with job applications and interviews while they’re at Hartpury and even after they graduate. The Enterprise service is an extension of Hartpury’s internationally accredited Information Advice and Guidance service which supports students to make future pathway decisions beyond Hartpury.

Learn more about AdviceAcademy via the website or follow on InstagramFacebookTikTok or YouTube.