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Student story

Cameron Gray

20 July 2023

Ngāpuhi, Tainui, Ngāi Tahu

"Time spent with the professional teams really helped solidify why I was completing the course..."


Bachelor of Sport Coaching in Performance Analysis

Part-time Rugby Coach, St Joseph’s College

Finding his passion in rugby, Cameron’s Sport Coaching studies have helped him "focus energy" towards making a career in professional rugby coaching and performance analysis.

"The course suited my needs at the time and the content looked great. I am learning the finer arts of sports coaching, outside the traditional mechanical or instructional based approaches. I enjoy learning and embracing new concepts and ways of working, and the satisfaction of achieving good results," he says.

"Some of the lecturers are absolutely great. Jenny Clarke has helped me no end; some say the master will appear when the student is ready, and I think that is really applicable in my situation. Piet van Hasselt and Richard Light have been fantastic in my development too."

Taking his second-year practicum in Japan to coach high school rugby teams was a big highlight from study, and a strong learning opportunity for adaptability as a rugby coach. 

Cameron spent six weeks living in central Tokyo, attending classes at Tokyo Gakugei University and coaching rugby teams from Kunitachi and Asaka High Schools. The experience helped him develop methods of coaching in a different culture; including team mentality, the coach-team relationship, adapting to longer training sessions, and coaching players that usually only pick up the sport in high school due to rugby being a minority sport in Japan.

He was also able to sit in on practices with professional teams such as the NEC Green Rockets rugby union team in the Japan Top League, and the national Japan rugby team, who were being assisted by the Hurricanes coaches at the time.

"This was a great experience and really helped me to appreciate my own life and culture as well as cherish and respect another," he says. "I highly recommend this experience to any student wishing to push their boundaries. The time spent with the professional teams really helped solidify why I was completing the course in the first place and made me hungry to succeed."

With a partner and young child, and also part-time coaching work in Sydney, Cameron finds the challenge of managing study with work and personal life to be one of the fulfilling parts of his degree and personal growth.

Because of the variety of career paths in sport the degree can offer, Cameron advises other students to "find a niche or a role in the field you want to work in and go after it with everything you have".

"I want to work professionally in the analyst/coaching side of professional rugby," he says.

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