About Us

The Next Phase Academy offers aspiring rugby players, both boys and girls, the opportunity to combine their further education and their sporting ambitions.

Based at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, in partnership with Bucks Sports Academy, The Mandeville School and Aylesbury Rugby Club, 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 within our specialised programme.

2. Our graduates continue to combine both their sporting and higher educational/vocational ambitions.

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 and fitness industry.

I have been fortunate to be involved in professional rugby for the last 16 years. I deferred my Higher education to sign my first professional contract at Leicester Tigers, who at that 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 aim now is to use my experience to inspire further generations of rugby players. I want our students to benefit from being able to combine their further education with our specialised fulltime rugby programme and continue to combine both their sporting and educational/vocational interests.

Based upon the facility we have at our disposal, our partnerships, the professional 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 into Higher education, an Apprenticeship scheme or a form of sports related employment, we want our students to continue to benefit from their involvement in sport.

James Buckland
Managing Director
Next Phase Academy