Jonny May

England and Gloucester Rugby winger

My time at Hartpury University

I came to Hartpury as a college student to do a diploma in Sport and after I completed that, I was offered a professional contract with Gloucester Rugby. I also decided that I wanted to continue my studies at Hartpury University. I did my first year of my Foundation degree in Sports Business Management while playing with Gloucester Academy and when I then stepped up into the first team, I continued my degree studies on a part-time basis. Hartpury University supported me to complete this successfully and to then top-up to the full Honours degree, again on a part-time basis. I graduated in 2015 and I was really proud of the achievement, although my commitments with England at the Rugby World Cup meant I couldn’t actually attend the ceremony! It was challenging doing a degree as I wasn’t able to get to that many lectures but my tutors always made time for me and arranged tutorials that fitted around my sporting schedule. They understood that it was tough for me to balance my studies with playing commitments, but the flexibility and support I received was crucial to me graduating and my degree means I will have something to fall back on when I’ve finished playing. I definitely had intense times where I got home from training exhausted and had to smash out some revision or an assignment, but it was all worth it in the end!

What is it about Hartpury University that makes it such a good environment to study and continue with your sport?

I couldn’t talk highly enough of it. You are training as a professional athlete every day and you are exposed to so many opportunities. If you want to take your rugby seriously and give it a real go as a career, you have got a real chance here. I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am now if I hadn’t come to Hartpury. It’s not as though you’re throwing all your eggs in one basket either because if your rugby doesn’t work out, you are going to have a degree at the end of it. It’s the best place I can think of to develop your rugby and further yourself academically.

My hopes for the future

Right now, rugby is my number one priority – at club and international level – and I’ve had so many amazing experiences and opportunities already. However, I’m also fully aware it can be a short career and I know that I’ll always have the security of a good education and a good degree from Hartpury University to fall back on. Hartpury is a great place to come if you’re an aspiring player in any sport, not just rugby. It allows you to combine playing at a high level with continuing to study. I think a degree is something that is universally recognised as a high level of academic achievement and it gives you that success and respect that helps you get the career you want. I’m not 100% sure what I want to do yet after rugby but I’m considering the sports therapy field. I’d like to go on to do some coaching courses or get some work experience in the sports industry; so that when my playing career all comes to an end, I’ll have built up a CV that can open doors for me.