Former Australian Men’s Sevens rugby captain gives back to CSU community at UniSport Nationals

Former captain of the Australian Men’s Sevens rugby team and recent Charles Sturt University (CSU) alumni, Ed Jenkins, is set to return to CSU to coach our rugby women’s sevens team ahead of the UniSport Nationals, Division 1.

As the most capped Sevens player and longest serving representative, Ed will be accompanied at the Nationals by CSU Bathurst student and Bathurst Mitchell women’s 10s rugby coach, Dom Huggett.

“It’s exciting to be able to partner with the university in a different capacity,” Ed told Insight. “It gives me the opportunity to pass on my knowledge as a player to the next aspiring generation who one day might be lucky enough to represent their country.”

Ed shares his experience as an elite athlete and how he chose to study online with CSU to make his next move count with a Graduate Certificate in Commerce.

Ed Jenkins Uni Sport national

Ed Jenkins

Former captain of the Australian Men’s Sevens rugby team and CSU alumni.

Why did you decide to study with a regional uni and what made you choose CSU?

I was playing professional rugby at the time and had been studying at another uni but finding it hard to attend as I was travelling so much. I looked at other universities which allowed me the flexibility to study online and CSU gave me this with the course I was after.

Could you tell us about your background and what led to you choosing CSU’s Graduate Certificate in Commerce? Have you done any previous study with CSU?

While I found playing professional rugby and juggling studies difficult at times, I knew that completing further study was very important. I had completed a business diploma and was looking to advance this with more studies, and the Graduate Certificate in Commerce appealed to me as I could turn it into an MBA. I hadn’t done any previous study with CSU but the fact I could study online was the deciding factor.

What do you hope to achieve in your industry and how do you want to make your next move count?

I’d love to make the transition from rugby player to rugby administrator. I’ve had amazing opportunities which the game has given me and if I can get more people playing the great game then hopefully they can have similar experiences. I’m currently working in the corporate environment gaining experience outside of the rugby community. The aim is to learn and develop my skillset here and be able to one day go back into rugby with a unique vision and skillset which will be able to assist me to get where I want.

How did you balance study with your career and family life? If there were any challenges, how did you rise above these?

Travelling the world, balancing family life, all while trying to study was no easy feat. Time management was essential, along with a very supportive wife. It was tough finishing off a hard day’s training and coming home to complete my study. Having a good schedule and a really solid support network made this possible.

“Travelling the world, balancing family life, all while trying to study was no easy feat… Having a good schedule and a really solid support network made this possible.”

What does a typical day look like for you when you’re studying? Do you have a set routine or do you fit study into your life?

Training and competing was my first priority when I was studying. At the end of the day, this was my job, and when I was performing for my country I found it hard to let anything else interfere with that. We had a demanding training schedule which would see us start at 6.30am and finish at 5.00pm. In between these times, there wasn’t much left for study. I would usually fit my study in at night once I had completed everything and had some quiet time. Another good time was when we were on flights. We would travel for eight months of the year around the world so there were some great opportunities to do some reading on the long-haul flights.

“We would travel for eight months of the year around the world so there were some great opportunities to do some reading on the long-haul flights.”

What have been some of the highlights of your study experience at CSU?

Probably just passing all my subjects was a highlight in itself, while competing on the world stage and at numerous Commonwealth Games, World Cups and the Olympics. Completing my studies was something I was really proud of.

Could you tell us about any workplace learning experiences you’ve had and how this has helped set you up for the next chapter of your career?

I’ve been working at EY for the past six months in the advisory team, which has been a great introduction to the corporate world. Having not spent any time in the office in my working life, everything I do has been a great learning experience. The skills I’m learning in regards to consulting and taking a project from start to finish are great and will be transferable to whatever I end up doing long term.

How does it feel to be a role model for the next generation of athletes?

My legacy on the field unfortunately speaks louder than my academic transcript. I’m comfortable being a role model with what I achieved on the field but I’m sure there are other athletes/students who juggled a sporting career or full-time work and have achieved more with their studies. Hopefully this is something I can keep building on now that my sporting career has wrapped up.

What does it mean for you to be able to give back to the CSU community at the UniSport Nationals?

It’s exciting to be able to partner with the university in a different capacity. It gives me the opportunity to pass on my knowledge as a player to the next aspiring generation who one day might be lucky enough to represent their country.

What knowledge do you hope to impart to the CSU students at the Nationals?

Sevens rugby is definitely a hard sport which tests out a player’s skills, endurance, speed, mental toughness and, unfortunately, there isn’t anywhere to hide. If I can get the players trusting each other out on the field, this will go a long way for them having a successful tournament. Most of all, I want them to be enjoying it and having fun the whole time.

What’s your best advice for students who aspire to be professional athletes and pursue university study?

I’ve seen many players leave the game either through injury or retirement and have no qualifications. A career as a professional athlete will only last a short period of your life and that’s if you make it right to the top. Having something to fall back on when it either doesn’t eventuate or comes to an end is crucial. It also allows you to have a balanced life and something to take your mind away from your chosen professional sport when you’re training and competing. Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that you will probably be working for much longer than you were an athlete, so it’s important to lay the foundations for the second phase as early as you can.

Want to kick goals in your career?

If you’re an elite athlete and ready to put your best foot forward on and off the field, CSU’s range of flexible courses will open up opportunities for you to take your career further or in a new direction. As an Elite Athlete Friendly University, CSU offers tailored support for professional sportspeople including Australian Olympians, coaches, referees, elite performers and emerging elite athletes. Find out how CSU can support you to achieve your sporting and career goals through our Elite Athlete Program.