About Us

The Next Phase Academy offers aspiring rugby players, both boys and girls from all sporting backgrounds, the opportunity to combine their sporting and educational ambitions.

Based at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, in partnership with Aylesbury Rugby Football Club, The Mandeville School and Bucks Sports Academy, Next Phase Academy offers boys and girls, aged 16-19 years, the opportunity to gain sports related academic or vocational qualifications, whilst playing an active role in a full-time rugby programme.

Next Phase Academy’s main objectives are to ensure that…

1. Our students enjoy fulfilling both their sporting and academic potentials.

2. Our graduates have the opportunity to continue to combine both their sporting and academic/vocational interests going forward.

Next Phase Academy has built and continues to build relationships with a number of potential ‘exit routes’ that may appeal to our students. Such as rugby playing Universities, Senior Rugby Academies, sports focused vocational establishments and employers within the sports or fitness industry.

I have been fortunate to be involved in professional rugby for the last 15 years. I deferred my university course to sign my first professional contract at Leicester Tigers, who at the time were the reigning European Champions.

I played for Leicester Tigers, London Wasps and London Irish, winning two Premiership titles, gaining international recognition with the England Saxons and playing in a European Cup Final.

At the end of my playing career I progressed into professional coaching, rising to high profile rugby leadership positions. I have worked with some fantastic rugby teams, encompassing some truly exceptional characters.
As a player I enjoyed being part of a team and pushing myself physically and mentally. As a coach I enjoy helping individuals fulfil their potential by consistently exhibiting and reinforcing the values of team sport and I’ve been fortunate enough to help players develop and reach the very top of the game.

My objective now is to inspire further generations of rugby players. I want our students to benefit from a combination of continued education alongside completing a fulltime, specialised rugby program.

Based upon the facility we have at our disposal, our partnerships and the diverse skillset and experience of our staff, I know that we deliver the best possible rugby programme in combination with further education.

As an Academy, we are extremely excited by the relationships we have built with our potential ‘exit route’ partners. Whether that route is a University course, another form of continued education, an Apprenticeship scheme or a form of sports related employment, we want our students to continue to benefit from involvement in sport, at whatever level they aspire to.

James Buckland
Managing Director
Next Phase Academy