Alex Tait: My Chemistry Journey


It’s been six years in the making but Newcastle Falcons’ versatile back, Alex Tait, has finally gained his ultimate reward. The 28-year-old recently graduated from Newcastle University with a 2:1 in chemistry and chats to the RPA to explain exactly how he achieved such a fantastic result.

Firstly Alex, congratulations on gaining a 2:1 in chemistry, you must be very proud?

I’m extremely proud and was completely over the moon when I received the result. It’s taken me a while to complete but to gain a 2:1 is a pretty cool achievement.

Can you explain why the process took longer than expected?

In total the degree took me six years. I originally started as a full-time student and then as I got more first team appearances I moved to part-time study. It was from there I decided to take a two year break from my studies to focus on developing my rugby career. At that point it seemed rugby was the only thing that really mattered. Thankfully my RPA Personal Development Manager was a major help and encouraged me to return on a part-time basis and finish what I had started.

How did you manage to juggle the degree around your rugby career?

It was obviously difficult at times but I found if you plan your time well it’s very achievable. As a chemistry degree it involved a lot of time in the labs which meant I spent my days off from rugby catching up on all the work I had missed. The university were brilliant though and allowed me to use the lab whenever I needed.

Describe what sparked your initial interest in chemistry?

Science and maths have always been two of my most enjoyable subjects. When I was choosing which degree to take, I felt chemistry sounded the most attractive, not just from a content point of view, but I also believed it would give me the best opportunity of gaining a sustainable post-rugby career.

Can you explain the support you received from the RPA?

The RPA were fantastic throughout the whole process and really encouraged me to continue with the degree right to the end. I received an education grant through the RPA which was a huge boost and went towards paying a university demonstrator to help me in the lab and make sure I didn’t blow myself up! On top of this, the support I received from my tutor John Errington and the RPA was outstanding. They were both on hand to help with any difficulties I had and constantly went out of their way to support me.

What piece of advice would you give to other RPA members looking to undertake education?

I think it’s hugely important to plan for life after rugby as early as possible and completing a degree or course will help you significantly. If you’re thinking about doing it I would encourage you to take that next step and sign up. It not only benefits you away from rugby but I also found it enhanced my game on the pitch.

Finally, what comes next for Alex Tait?

I’m still loving my rugby and looking forward to continuing for a few years yet. However away from the rugby pitch my intention has always been to complete this degree and then potentially continue on into my masters. I enjoy studying and if I can enhance my experience away from the pitch to an even further extent then that would be superb.

If you would like to further your education by undertaking a degree or course please speak to your RPA Personal Development Manager or click here for more information.