Richard Agar and Denis Betts Don the Cap and Gown
Two professional rugby coaches swapped their sportswear for academic robes when they graduated from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
Super League bosses Richard Agar and Denis Betts were among 4,500 students who took to the stage to receive their academic awards at Preston’s Guild Hall last week.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats Head Coach Richard, who also coaches the French national team on a part-time basis, and Wigan Warriors legend Denis, who is now the Widnes Vikings Head Coach, graduated from the School of Sport, Tourism and the Outdoors.
They have both spent the past two years combining their full-time rugby coaching careers with studying for the United Kingdom Coaching Certificate (UKCC) Level 4 Postgraduate Diploma in Elite Coaching Practice.
Denis said: “This postgraduate course has been really worthwhile for enhancing our coaching careers and it gives us a credible academic achievement to use in the wider world. It’s been great to work alongside coaches from table tennis, squash and hockey as we can learn different skills from these sports.”
Richard added: “It’s been a tough two years as our coaching jobs are really time consuming but I’m delighted I’ve completed it as the greater and more in-depth knowledge I’ve gained in areas such as physiology and strength and conditioning will help improve me as a coach.”
They are among a handful of coaches who have achieved this academic qualification. In December 2011 John Kear, Steve McCormack, Stuart Wilkinson, Andy Proctor, Dave Elliott and Dave Rotheram were among the first cohort to graduate from this specialist course.
Denis added: “Having left school more than 20 years ago it was a real challenge to go back to education. It has tested every aspect of my experience and ability but I’d recommend it to anybody as it’s been great. The support from the lecturers has been excellent; they were always available to offer advice and would encourage us to keep going when things got tough.”
Bryan Jones, UCLan Principle Lecturer in Coaching and Performance, said: “I’m really proud of both Richard and Denis. Richard has worked hard while having two coaching jobs and Denis has been a great student. It’s great to hear them talking about going on to look at further study as they’ve been really good individuals who have learnt so much.”