Jamie Roberts, a fourth year medical student describes how itís possible to combine studying with a successful career as a rugby player for Cardiff Blues and Wales.
I began playing rugby at just six years old and loved it. My family members are all keen rugby supporters and Iím naturally a competitive person and enjoy being part of a team. I first played rugby for a team called Cricc, which played through the medium of Welsh. I played for my school Glan Taf and Rumney RFC from the age of 13, became captain of Cardiff Schools under 15s team and then went on to join the Cardiff Blues Academy aged 17.
I played my first professional season with Cardiff Blues last season, and Iíve also played for the Welsh rugby team. So far, I have had three caps for Wales, which has been amazing, playing at wing, full back and centre. Alongside playing rugby, I decided to study sciences for my A Levels at sixth form and this is when I realised I could put these skills into an academic career in medicine. Having achieved the necessary grades at A Levels, I enrolled on a course in medicine at Cardiff University. I really enjoy contact with people and so it seemed like a logical choice.
I have to be honest and say it has been a challenge and very hard work but Iíve just had the results from my third year intermediate exams and passed so all the work definitely seems worth it at the moment. The first two years of my degree, were mostly lecture based and so playing rugby and attending my lectures were not so difficult to combine, as long as I kept up with the study. This last year, however, the course is a mixture of lectures and placements and so learning has become more difficult. The School of Medicine at the University has been fantastic in helping me juggle studying and playing rugby. I would definitely say the staff and team there have been awesome - the way the School is run is excellent. The School has been very understanding and were flexible about managing my time and studies during this past year.
Most students were taking their third year exams during April when the Six Nations matches were taking place and so I took my exams a couple of months later when others were taking re-sits. I also went to South Africa for the first two weeks in June and so when I returned home, I had to make up my time and work really hard, most days studying in the library until the early hours of the morning. But now all the hard work has paid off and it was worth the time Iíve devoted to rugby and my studies and it shows that it can be done - you just have to dig deep.
The final two years of my degree at Cardiff University includes placements and clinical studies, and I am considering extending this aspect of the course to four years. By spreading this out over a longer period of time, I can continue to make the most of my rugby career without missing out on the essential stage of my studies. I have not yet decided my final role in medicine, but my main aim is to work hard, enjoy it and see what opportunities are presented. I would love to play for the British Lions and achieve 50 caps for Wales and have a prolonged rugby career. I enjoy speaking to my fellow rugby players about their injuries and trying to assess what is wrong so sports medicine may be my career path. It worked for JPR Williams!Ē