RPA Player Rep Charlie Sharples completes BALM degree

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RPA Player Representative for Gloucester Rugby, Charlie Sharples, will become the latest RPA member set to graduate from the BA (Hons) Leadership and Management degree (BALM) at Northumbria University in December. We recently sat down with Charlie to find out how he found the course and how he balanced it around a full-time playing career.

Firstly Charlie congratulations on completing the degree, how does it feel to be finished?

It’s an awesome feeling and definitely a weight off my shoulders. It’s great knowing that I have managed to finish the degree, and gain a qualification whilst still playing rugby. After I left school I wanted to gain some form of qualification and to have completed that now, means I have one less thing to worry about going forward. I can now look ahead to my life after rugby with the positive thought of knowing that I have a degree under my belt.

Can you explain what you found the most beneficial aspect of the degree?

I found all the subject content really interesting. In particular learning more about leadership and the different forms it can come across. I also found it extremely beneficial to understand how organisations operate and how our own organisation does things differently to other rugby clubs. My time management skills also improved throughout the degree as you’re forced to balance the workload with your rugby commitments and social life.

You mentioned time management, how did you juggle your studies around your rugby career?

With difficulty at times to be fair! I can probably speak for most of the players who have completed the course, there are moments when you find yourself falling behind. We are all human and the work can build up, especially as rugby dominates most of our time. I struggled during the summer of 2014. I got called up to the England training squad for the tour of New Zealand and at the time my wedding was a month away and I was also in the middle of renovating my house. Luckily Northumbria University stepped in and offered me an extension to complete my work. They’re brilliant and understand how rugby and life in general can throw up unforeseen circumstances.

How grateful are you that a degree like this has been set up for RPA members?

It’s absolutely brilliant to have a degree easily assessable for all RPA members to complete whilst still playing rugby. Before undertaking the BALM degree I tried a few different courses over the years and none of them really worked or interested me to the point that this degree has. It’s been fantastic and I would strongly recommend the degree to anyone. It’s extremely flexible, you can do all the work at home on your laptop and all the content and lectures can be easily accessed online. Not to mention regular skype sessions with your tutors who support you and help with anything you’re having trouble with.

As the RPA Player Rep for Gloucester, what would be your advice to other members who might be interested in starting the degree?

In hindsight if this degree was available to me when I first started I would have jumped at the opportunity. It’s definitely something I would hugely recommend to any player, and the great thing is that it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can start the degree at any point in your career. If you’re interested then don’t hesitate to apply, give it a go and see how you find it. It might not be the course for you but at least you’re beginning the journey and starting to prepare for life after rugby.

Ahead of our next round of graduates in December we’re now taking applications for January 2016. If you are interested please contact Mandy Thompson on 07889 601 709 or mthompson@theRPA.co.uk or alternatively apply here: https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/sd/academic/nbs/lfsm/