Justin Smith

Performance Analyst and Team Manager for Hartpury Rugby Academy

Justin is currently a postgraduate student at Hartpury University, studying for a Masters in Coaching Science. Alongside this he is a performance analyst and team manager at Hartpury Rugby Academy working with the top College and University teams and Hartpury RFC. He also currently coaches at Gloucester Athletics, where he trains athletes from 13 up to senior level.

Justin's Hartpury Experience

"My journey started when I moved over from South Africa to study here in the UK and I came to Hartpury University as I wanted to focus on my career as well as taking part in sport. Whilst studying for my BSc Sports Coaching, I also played rugby and continued my sprinting at Gloucester Athletics Club. The degree enabled me to develop my view of coaching beyond fitness, towards developing athletes as individuals both on and off the field. With these skills I was able to coach in America, at Gloucester Athletics Club, then at Hartpury Rugby Academy as an intern during my third year.

I jumped at the chance to work as a Team Manager for the Saturday and then when the Performance Analyst job became available I was offered that too and finished my degree working in both roles and gaining priceless experience. I got the chance to and stay on with the Rugby Academy while studying my MSc Coaching Science degree part time at Hartpury University. This gave me a great chance to take everything I learnt and to actually put it into practice.

With the contacts I gathered through Hartpury University, I ended up being approached by Proview Analysis to work with the University of Calgary Dinos women’s rugby team to provide remote performance analysis. I was able to offer them my support and helped guide them to their first ever Canada West Championships.

Everything is on your doorstep at Hartpury University, from the facilities to the environment, everything feels world class. You have this feeling of wanting to develop yourself and others around you, pushing yourself to be better, academically and practically. Hartpury has an elite sporting environment so from the moment you step on the campus you get every opportunity to go on and achieve your dreams either as an athlete or coach.

You get to experience what it takes to be the best and have the opportunity to work together, learn together, fail and succeed together as a team. Everyone buys into the culture and ethos and this is great encouragement when you are pursuing goals. The lecturers, coaching staff, support staff, and everyone at Hartpury University are willing to go that extra mile and that makes it special – you really get the feeling that you’re part of a family. You always get the support you need in order to maximise your potential, build important relationships and work towards your personal goals."

Developing Industry Connections

"Hartpury University has helped me to grow as an individual both as a coach and person. I’ve enjoyed working in the academy with some of the best coaches and learning from their vast knowledge, especially in rugby. I have also had opportunities to work with Gloucester Rugby and build contacts with other clubs, and to go and see how England Rugby train. All this has come from being involved in Hartpury and being able to put myself out there. Working day-to-day with teams at varying levels of development helped me learn to adapt to an ever-changing coaching environment. It has allowed me to find out about myself as a person and a coach and, most importantly, to learn from my mistakes.

Hartpury University have given me a valuable experience in both performance analysis and now coaching as I help the strength and conditioning coaches with speed work for the both the boys and girls first teams. This is giving me the chance to really apply my knowledge of athletics into rugby and adding diversity to my coaching. I’ve also been able to apply what I’ve learnt at Hartpury University in a different environment at Gloucester Athletics Club and help the young talented athletes, which offers a host of new challenges."