About Us

The Next Phase Academy has been established to enable aspiring rugby players, both boys and girls from all backgrounds and at all levels, to combine their sporting and educational ambitions.

The Next Phase Academy will be offering boys and girls of 16 to 19 years of age, with a keen interest in rugby or the ability to develop the capabilities required for the sport of rugby, an opportunity to gain academic qualifications whilst being part of an immersive rugby environment.


  1. To deliver a specialised environment to existing or aspiring rugby players, both boys and girls, who might not otherwise have been afforded the opportunity to experience such a rugby focused program.
  2. To combine a student’s participation in a specialised rugby environment while achieving further academic qualifications within a sport based curriculum.
  3. To guide our graduates on to their next phase of further education, their first full time employment or a career as a professional sports person. The Academy will strive to give students a pathway to destinations who recognise not only the value of our student’s academic attainment but also value this within the context of a student’s more developed character and attitude. This student development will form the cornerstone of the Academy. We recognise that our students will be building foundations for life, so with our guidance they will forever draw on the experiences they have gained through their endeavors in our specialised rugby program.

The Next Phase Academy has already secured relationships with key exit route partners across the spectrum of further educational establishments. We are fully committed to continuing to target and build relationships with new and more diverse potential partners in the future. These new partners have all expressed their desire to engage with students who fully understand the values of teamwork and endeavour. These values in combination with academic achievement are what we believe will set our students apart and why they will be coveted by the finest “Next Phase” of establishments for the continuation of their journey.

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, immersing them in to a program of education and quality rugby participation. 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 and the diverse skillset and experience of our staff, I know that we can deliver the best possible rugby programme in combination with further education.

As an Academy, we are extremely excited by the interest shown by some of our ‘exit route’ partners. Whether that route is a University course, another form of continued education, an Apprenticeship scheme or a form of potential employment, we want our students to continue to benefit from involvement in the game, at whatever level they aspire to.
Whatever our students’ future career choice, we will endeavor to prepare them to be the best that they can possibly be, so that they can ultimately excel into adult life and continue to stand out from the pack.

James Buckland
Managing Director
Next Phase Academy